Ulster breakthrough: Dublin applauds the `vision and courage' of main parties

THE STATEMENTS from the main players in the northern Ireland peace process were broadly welcomed last night, with the Irish government describing them as "generous and visionary".

The Foreign Minister, David Andrews, congratulated Sinn Fein and the Unionists for "the courage and leadership they are showing". Mr Andrews added: "These generous and visionary statements represent a further important step towards a resolution over the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement."

The Social Democratic and Labour Party reaffirmed its commitment to implementation of the agreement, saying it was a chance to "transcend our past, to leave behind division and conflict for once and for all.

"While frustrated at the slow progress, we have continued to urge all involved to be generous and flexible, and, for the sake of all our people, to put aside narrow party or sectional interests. We have been preparing policies for the new administration's programme of government ... as well as detailing the tasks to be undertaken by these bodies.

"The SDLP is determined that all the new political institutions will succeed not just in building new relationships but in making a real difference to the lives of all of our people. [The agreement] achieved an emancipation of hope. Our collective task now is the emancipation of opportunity. There is no more time to waste."

The Ulster Democratic Party also welcomed the developments, which it viewed as providing a real opportunity for the full implementation of all aspects of the agreement. But the UDP, which speaks for the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association and the associated Ulster Freedom Fighters, made no direct reference to decommissioning in its statement.

The party said the review process had been "a pathway whereby the twin goals of a stable executive and a resolution to the conflict are now achievable. It remains for Northern Ireland's political representatives to rise to the challenge."

It singled out the stewardship of the talks by retired US senator George Mitchell, saying: "We pay tribute to the patience, tenacity and political skill of senator George Mitchell without whom we would not have reached this point. Northern Ireland owes Mr Mitchell a deep debt of gratitude."

The Progressive Unionist Party, also linked with loyalist paramilitaries, said decommissioning was integral to the peace process but not a pre-condition for inclusion in government. The party, the political wing of the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Red Hand Commando, also vowed to continue to work with the independent commission to achieve disarmament. "The removal of illegal [arms] is an integral part of the conflict transformation process taking place in Northern Ireland," said the PUP's Billy Hutchinson.

Mr Hutchinson is the only direct representative of paramilitaries, the UVF and RHC, appointed to speak directly to the decommissioning body. Mr Hutchinson said: "The Progressive Unionist Party does not see decommissioning as a pre-condition to access to the structures envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement, whilst we recognise that it is an issue that must be dealt with."

The Alliance Party also urged the establishment of the executive as soon as possible and a start to decommissioning, as facilitated by the "authorised representatives. General de Chastelain and his team must be given full co-operation and commitment by all groups holding illegal arms and explosives," a statement said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
'Prison Architect' players decide the fate of inmates
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Artwork Design Apprenticeship

£7200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Artwork Design Apprenticeship is avail...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web design and digital age...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor