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Statement by Dermot Ahern about Northern Ireland in 2006, (2 January 2006)

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Text: Dermot Ahern ... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Statement by Dermot Ahern, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, about Northern Ireland in 2006, (2 January 2006)


"We are now embarking on a concerted effort to end direct rule and re-establish the Northern Ireland Assembly this year.

Local, devolved government is the clear will of the people of Northern Ireland.

The parties and the governments have a duty to deliver on that will.

To that end the Irish Government will be stepping up contact with all political parties, with the British Government and with our friends in the US in the coming weeks.

Real progress in areas such as education, health, equality and policing is best achieved by locally-elected politicians working in partnership to deliver for their communities.

The goals of delivering real change and real improvements for ordinary people on these 'bread and butter' issues should drive our efforts in the forthcoming months.

There are many challenges ahead;

Unionists must give positive leadership to their communities. By committing actively to power-sharing, they can demonstrate that equality is a fundamental right, not a gained concession.

The Provisional Movement must recognise that the taint of criminality or paramilitarism can only lessen their credibility, and hinder implementation of the equality agenda contained in the Good Friday Agreement. They must also recognise that full support for policing is in the best interests of their own communities.

Sectarianism remains a challenge for all communities.

Unfortunately, the past year saw a series of unprovoked attacks on communities, families and individuals, targeted solely on religious grounds.

To avoid a repetition of these events in 2006, the Irish Government calls on all political and community leaders to take a public stand against all sectarian attacks, and indeed, all efforts to exploit such attacks for political gain."


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