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Transcript of Press Conference with Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern on the Peace Process, London, (13 October 2003)

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Text: Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern, and Others... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Transcript of Press Conference with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), on the Peace Process, 10 Downing Street, London, (13 October 2003)



We thought we should say some words to you, although for pretty obvious reasons, because the parties are still talking, there is a limit to what we can say and I hope you understand that and we won't actually take questions at this stage if that is all right for you. But I just really wanted to say two things. There have been intensive discussions between parties and between the two governments and different parties. We saw here the SDLP the other day, we have got the Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein over today to carry on talking both with each other and with us, and the aim is very clear obviously, which is to try and make sure that we hold democratic elections in Northern Ireland in a positive and constructive atmosphere. And I think it is just worth pointing out that over these past few months I think we have probably had the quietest summer in Northern Ireland for many, many years. There is a real sense in which Northern Ireland has made tremendous progress. We had the first meeting of the International Monitoring Commission in shadow form, and the omens are all very, very good if we can find the right way of having the election as I say in a positive and constructive atmosphere, and I hope very much that we can do that. But we have come a long way over these past 6 years and I know that anybody going back to Northern Ireland after several years when they hadn't been there would notice a huge difference in the way that Northern Ireland is, in the sense of security and safety and stability for the vast majority of people, not for everyone it is true, but for the vast majority of people in terms of its economy, in terms of unemployment and in terms of the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the British government. All these things have been transformed, and the fact that you have got the parties actually sitting in the same room together talking things through I think is a tremendous achievement as well. So I can't say to you precisely where we are going to be at the moment, I just don't know, and there is no point in speculating on it until we do know. But what I can say is that I think the general atmosphere, the climate if you like, is conducive to finding a way forward and I hope we can because we owe it to the people of Northern Ireland so far as we are concerned. And I thank the Taoiseach again for his extraordinary commitment to this process. We stand ready to help in any way that we can.


Thank you Prime Minister Blair. I again just want to thank the Prime Minister for having us here and to thank him for all the talks that we have been going through. Last week I had an opportunity over the last number of days of talking to the SDLP to win this coalition, contact with other parties today, I have not had the chance of talking to the UUP or Sinn Fein for some days, so today I think is a useful opportunity to do that. Obviously what the Prime Minister has said is we want to see elections held and we want to see the outcome of those elections allowing for the institutions to work, as we originally envisaged in the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. I think the atmosphere of all of the parties that I have had an opportunity to speak to in recent weeks has been to try to achieve that. Of course there are outstanding issues, it is well known what the outstanding issues are. I think we have to keep on working to try to find resolutions to those. But nobody that I have met in the last number of weeks, we had the chance of consulting on this in Rome 10 days ago, they all want to try to see these resolutions found and that we can make positive progress. It is not easy and we are not at that stage, so it is no good speculating that we might or we might not, we are just not at the stage where you can say that. But time is short, as I have said in recent days back home, we are conscious that it can't go on indefinitely just trying to talk around points, we have to try to find resolutions, if it is possible, and today is another part of that. And I want to thank the Prime Minister for the opportunity and the time where we have two of the parties following on the dialogue we have had with the others over the last 10 days or so.


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