Alliance Party Leader, David Ford, reacting to the cancellation of the anticipated ‘proximity talks’ in Lancaster House later this month, has called for the Governments to focus on resolving the underlying difficulties between the parties in Belfast.
David Ford said:
“I wonder how much this decision is related to the pending conclusions by the IMC, but plans for ‘proximity talks’ in London later this month have always seems half-baked to me.
“The rationale for the Lancaster House talks seemed to be the need for a change of venue. But what we need is a change in approach.
“Parties have become far too accustomed to taking their problems to the two Prime Ministers, and presenting their wish-lists to be satisfied.
“The high-drama Prime Ministerial interventions are having diminishing returns. Invariably, Mr Blair and Mr Ahern have to read themselves into a complicated brief, and too often the temptation has been to seek a sectarian carve-up between the problem parties on each side. Every time this has happened, the blockage has been simply pushed a little further down the pipe.
“Key issues have been fudged, and fundamental problems left unresolved. Over time, the Governments have had more and more difficulty in pulling off the illusion of progress.
“Both Prime Ministers have plenty on their plate at present, with the deteriorating situation in Iraq, and enlargement of the European Union.
“Instead of all this drama, we need much more work to be done in Belfast under the direction of the Secretary of State and Irish Foreign Minister.
“Crucially, the focus must be taken away from the mutual vetoes exercised by those on the extremes, with the focus returning to the democratic majority and working with those with who are prepared to work with each other.”