Alliance Leader David Ford has said that the decision by the Prime Minister to invite parties to Downing Street has fatally damaged the Review of the Agreement. He also criticised the role of the Irish Government.
David Ford said:
“The Review of the Agreement has been in a crisis since February 20th. This crisis was deepened by the refusal of the two Governments to even consider sanctions against parties which were in breach of the requirements to non-violence.
“I recognise that both the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach have made strong statements about the need for an end to paramilitary activity for many months. The problem is that their statements are totally valueless unless they are followed by meaningful actions.
“I have told the Irish Government that the regular statements against violence, while no action follows, are actually worse than if they ignored violence. They reinforce the impression that violence pays.
“This situation has been made worse by the actions of the Prime Minister this week. By arranging meetings with the parties at Downing Street, he has once again told people that important business is transacted in his side deals with individual parties in London, rather than in Stormont.
“There is now no reason for parties to engage seriously with each other. Instead they will all run away from where the negotiations should be to put their competing demands to the Prime Minister.
“It was already doubtful if the Review could succeed. I believe that the actions of Mr Blair, interfering in the Review process, have fatally damaged what little chance of success the Review had.”