Outline of the summit proposals

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The Independent Online
The following are excerpts from the communique issued after yesterday's Downing Street summit on Ulster:

The Taoiseach and the Prime Minister . . . affirmed the fundamental priority they attach to securing the earliest possible inclusive negotiations to address comprehensively all the relevant relationships and issues in an inter-locking three-stranded process.

They confirmed that such negotiations should include all relevant parties which establish a commitment to exclusively peaceful methods and which have shown that they abide by the democratic process. Having undertaken the intensive consultations and the elective process as set out below, all- party negotiations will be convened on Monday 10 June 1996.

The two Governments recalled that, as set out in the 28 November Communique, there had been intensive discussions among the two Governments and the Northern Ireland parties, in various configurations, on the basis, participation, structure, format and agenda of substantive all-party negotiations.

The Prime Minister reaffirmed the British Government's view that, having taken account of the differing positions of the parties and the view of the International Body, an elective process would offer a viable direct and speedy route to all-party negotiations. The Prime Minister and the Taoiseach agreed that an elective process would have to be broadly acceptable and lead immediately and without further preconditions to the convening of all-party negotiations with a comprehensive agenda.

The Prime Minister and the Taoiseach agreed that details of an elective process were for the parties in Northern Ireland, together with the British Government, to determine. The Prime Minister confirmed that the necessary legislation for a broadly acceptable elective process would be processed as rapidly as possible.

The Taoiseach, for his part, while noting that the question of an elective process and its nature were primarily a matter for the parties in Northern Ireland to determine, indicated that the Irish Government would support any proposal of that kind which, it was satisfied, was broadly acceptable to those parties, had an appropriate mandate and was within the three- stranded structure.

The Prime Minister and the Taoiseach agreed that the two Governments would conduct intensive multilateral consultations with the relevant Northern Ireland parties in whatever configuration was acceptable to those concerned, beginning on Monday 4 March and ending on Wednesday 13 March. The purpose of the consultations will be to:

(a) reach widespread agreement on proposals for a broadly acceptable elective process leading directly and without preconditions to all-party negotiations on 10 June 1996;

(b) reach widespread agreement on the basis, participation, structure, format and agenda of substantive all-party negotiations; and

(c) consider whether there might be advantage in holding a referendum in Northern Ireland with a parallel referendum held by the Irish Government in its own jurisdiction on the same day as in Northern Ireland. The purpose of such a referendum would be to mandate support for a process to create lasting stability, based on the repudiation of violence for any political purpose.

In the absence of the cessation of violence for which both Governments look, the two Governments affirmed their determination to continue to work in partnership with those parties which are exclusively committed to peaceful methods to secure a comprehensive negotiated settlement. The Taoiseach and the Prime Minister expressed their hope that all parties with an electoral mandate would be able to participate in all-party negotiations. They recognise that confidence building measures will be necessary.

As one such measure, all participants would need to make clear at the beginning of the discussions their total and absolute commitment to the principles of democracy and non-violence set out in the report of the International Body. They would also need to address. . . its proposals on decommissioning. Confidence-building would also require that the parties have reassurance that a meaningful and inclusive process of negotiations is genuinely being offered to address the legitimate concerns of their traditions and the need for new political arrangements with which all can identify.

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