Speaking after a meeting with the NI Secretary of State, Paul Murphy MP, this morning, Alliance Party Leader David Ford stated:
“While spring may be in the air today, the process is still in deep freeze, and there has yet to be a thaw in the frosty relations between democratic parties and those still wedded to paramilitary activity.
“Once again, Alliance pressed the Government to press ahead with those parties that are not in breach of the Mitchell requirement of adhering to purely peaceful and democratic means to achieve their objectives.
“I told the Secretary of State that there is no point in having structures that consider every party suitable for punishment when only one is in default. That is manifestly unfair.
“One possibility would be for the governments to convene a round table meeting of those parties that can have confidence in each other to discuss possible ways forward.”
Speaking in response to the allegations made by the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, today that Sinn Fein was aware of imminent IRA bank raids during political talks, Mr Ford stated:
“If the Taoiseach is now confirming his view that the Sinn Féin leadership was aware of IRA bank raids during negotiations, it raises serious questions as to whether either government should be engaging in discussions with Sinn Féin at all. The governments should certainly not be treating Sinn Féin the same as they treat genuinely democratic and peaceful parties.”