CAIN Web Service

Statement on the Peace Process from the Prime Minister's Office, 28 October 2003

[Key_Events] [Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]
PEACE: [Menu] [Summary] [Reading] [Background] [Chronology_1] [Chronology_2] [Chronology_3] [Article] [Agreement] [Sources]

Page compiled: Martin Melaugh

Statement on the Peace Process from the Prime Minister's Office,
Downing Street, London, 28 October 2003

We regret very much that despite the significant developments in the peace process last week and further progress over this past weekend, it has not proved possible to resolve all the differences that emerged on the issue of decommissioning and move forward into the election on the basis of agreement.

However, this setback should not obscure the major steps forward taken by the Republican movement. The statement by Gerry Adams on 21 October, which was endorsed by the IRA, confirmed the commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means and signalled the full and final closure of the conflict. These developments and a third act of arms decommissioning by the IRA, overseen by the Independent International Commission, are greatly to be welcomed. And we pay tribute to General John de Chastelain and Mr Andrew Sens for their integrity and the professionalism with which they have undertaken their difficult task.

The outstanding issue is the degree of transparency to be attached to acts of decommissioning, both in terms of the arms dealt with and how long it will take to complete the process. Despite the lengthy and constructive engagement of the leadership of the Ulster Unionists, the Government regrets that it was not possible to reach agreement on these matters in terms which were conducive to creating public confidence on all sides.

Elections will take place on 26 November, as announced last week. After that the British and Irish Governments will work with the parties to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, so as to enable devolved government to be restored to the people of Northern Ireland. We remain optimistic that this will be achievable, building on the progress we have made in the last week.

In the meantime, the Government stands by its commitments. We are fully committed to the Agreement as the only way forward for inclusive political progress. Its fundamental principles are not a matter for negotiation in the Review that will take place following the elections. The continuing implementation of the Agreement also remains a firm commitment and that is why we shall seek after the elections urgently to create the conditions which will enable a working Executive to be formed and all the elements of the Joint Declaration to be taken forward.

We hope that the election campaign will be positive and constructive, and that after the elections we can build on the good working relationships between all the parties in Northern Ireland which have developed from their work together in the Executive and subsequently in the negotiations that have taken place since suspension.

28 October 2003

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

go to the top of this page go to the top of this page
Last modified :