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Joint Statement issued by the British Government and Irish Government, 24 February 2004

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Text: British and Irish Governments ... Research: Brendan Lynn

Joint Statement by the British Government and Irish Government, 24 February 2004


Last Friday's [20 February 2004] events have inevitably had a serious impact on this week's discussions within the review and are a matter of deep concern. Four people face serious charges and the police are following up a number of very definite evidential lines.

We hake listened carefully to the views of the parties and, in particular, to their concerns about the implications of these events for the establishment of the trust and confidence required to achieve a successful outcome to the review and to restore devolved Government in Northern Ireland

The Independent Monitoring Commission was established with the purpose of ensuring compliance with a number of key commitments relating to the Agreement. In the light of concerns that Friday's events represented a serious breach of paragraph 13 of the Joint Declaration, both Governments will now ask the Independent Monitoring Commission to examine these events in the context of the preparation of its first report and to bring that report forward from July to May. This report would be expected to cover all incidents and activities within its remit since the Commission was established in early January.

It is important to point out that the core objective of the Commission is to monitor certain matters and to advise the two Governments with a view to building the necessary trust and confidence among the parties. Moreover, while the Commission is fully independent in the performance of its functions, it is obliged not to do anything that might have a prejudicial effect on any legal proceedings.

Both Governments are very clear in our view that the achievement of a sustainable basis for political progress in Northern Ireland requires a full and permanent cessation of all paramilitary activities. The core Issues of the completion of the transition to exclusively democratic means and securing the commitment of all parties to stable political institutions are inextricably linked. As part of the wider agenda of the review, it is vital that intensify engagement with the parties on these core issues and we envisage that next week there will be a significant focus on the question of paramilitary activity.

We welcome today's statements by the UPRG [Ulster Political Research Group] and the UDA/UFF [Ulster Defence Association / Ulster Freedom Fighters]. They are a helpful contribution to the collective efforts to develop an improved climate of trust and confidence across Northern Ireland. It is of course vital that the actions of the UDA match the words spoken today and the Independent Monitoring Commission will have an important role of assurance to play in this regard. We commend the constructive work of those within the loyalist leadership who have facilitated these developments and look forward to continuing to work with them in addressing the needs of their communities.


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