Key motion lifts Ulster talks out of the trenches
Substantive negotiations on Northern Ireland's future are ready to open on Tuesday after the multi-party talks surmounted a significant hurdle. David McKittrick reports from Belfast.
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Thursday 25 September 1997
All the parties voted unanimously in a series of votes, the exception being Sinn Fein's opposition to a section on arms decommissioning. However, the development was hailed as a significant breakthrough in a joint statement from Tony Blair and the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.
The Prime Minister said: "I am delighted at today's agreement in Belfast to launch formally the substantive negotiations on a lasting political settlement for Northern Ireland and set up the independent commission on decommissioning. We and others have worked hard to achieve this."
David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist Party leader, said: "Sinn Fein are taking the first faltering steps towards an acceptance of partition."
Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein's president, said: "This is an historic day. There is a heavy onus on all the parties to now get down to the real and urgent business of making progress."
Earlier, the British government rejected an Ulster Unionist demand for the expulsion of Sinn Fein on the grounds that the party contained "unreconstructed terrorists" who remained uncommitted to principles of non-violence and democracy.
Mo Mowlam, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, declared that the party had not breached the six Mitchell principles. Despite protests, Mr Trimble's Ulster Unionists, accepted the ruling, having committed themselves by making it clear that they would remain in the talks process even if they lost out on the expulsion issue.
It was also announced that the Canadian general, John de Chastelein, would head the international body which is to deal with the issue of arms decommissioning in parallel with the political talks.
Opinions differed, however, on whether the issue had been effectively set aside or simply parked to be the subject of further controversy at a later stage.
The substantive negotiations have been organised into three strands dealing with the internal administration of Northern Ireland, North-South relations and over-arching relations between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
1 Hillary Clinton will visit Belfast next month to pay tribute to the peace activist Joyce McCarten, the White House said yesterday. She will speak at the University of Ulster, which is dedicating a scholarly post to Mrs McCarten, who died last year after founding a support group for women whose children have been killed in the conflict.
- 1 Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Frank Lampard equalises for Manchester City against Chelsea: how Twitter reacted
- 4 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
350 skinny dippers brave Northumberland seas for record attempt at mass naked swim
Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Jennifer Lawrence leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by forum users
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
£120 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Upper Key Stage 2 teacher ...
£110 - £130 per day + ?110 - 130: Randstad Education Reading: English Teacher ...
£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: KS2 teacher with SEN responsibi...
£60 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Administrative Assitant Hertford...