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Statement by Dr Mo Mowlam before talks at Stormont, 13 April 1999

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Research: Fionnuala McKenna

Text of statement by Dr Mo Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, before talks began at Stormont, 13 April 1999

"We are here this morning to meet the parties and hear their detailed response to the declaration made at Hillsborough. That was the two prime ministers' best guess as to how we might move forward from here. And, of course, the parties will have their own comments on that.

But let us not be under any illusion. Any alternative must be acceptable to both traditions. Otherwise this is not going to work. If people are only prepared to fight their own corner, then nothing the Prime Minister or the Taoiseach can do will help.

There will not be an executive acceptable to both traditions under the terms of the agreement. It is that simple. Only the pro-agreement parties can decide whether the agreement moves forward or not.

The majority of people here want it to work. So, too, do people in the South and in Britain. So, too, do our many friends in Europe, the US and further afield. And you only have to look at the horrors that are happening in the rest of the world to be reminded of what the alternative has been for much of the past 30 years. None of us want that. But while the two governments will do all we can to reach agreement, none of us can impose it.

Later statement by Dr Mowlam, following round-table talks involving the Ulster Unionists, Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance, Progressive Unionists and Women's Coalition. Some parties were attracted, others were not, by the approach laid out in the draft declaration that emerged from Hillsborough.

The general view at the meeting was that the crux of the problem is to create the conditions in which the decommissioning part of the agreement can be implemented and the executive formed.

Discussions now, therefore, will concentrate on ideas for creating those conditions, including the ideas in the draft declaration."

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