30 June 2005

Ahern sidesteps inquiry call

Daily Ireland

By Jarlath Kearney

Foreign minister Dermot Ahern yesterday declined to support the campaign for a full independent inquiry into the 1991 murder of Donegal councillor Eddie Fullerton.
The Sinn Féin councillor was assassinated by loyalist paramilitaries.
His case has raised serious questions about collusion and cover-up by authorities on both sides of the Border.
Mr Ahern was speaking in Belfast yesterday during a day-long series of meetings. The minister was accompanied by senior officials. His schedule included engagements with the SDLP, the PSNI and The Irish News.
He also met representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party and of the Policing Board, as well as Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan.
Asked whether he supported the Fullerton family’s campaign, Mr Ahern responded: “I have heard Minister [Michael] McDowell in relation to this. If he, for one minute, believes that there is need for any investigation, he will put that in place. I would agree with Minister McDowell.”
Mr Ahern’s failure to publicly back the Fullerton family contrasts with the unanimous support of every political party on Donegal County Council in calling for a full independent inquiry.
Addressing reporters, Mr Ahern said an expected IRA statement should come as soon as possible but that the outstanding elements of the Good Friday Agreement would continue to be implemented.
“As I said previously, the sooner they [the IRA] make their decision, the better for all of us so that we can get on with real politics and bring benefit to all our peoples on both sides of the Border,” he said.
“That’s why the British and Irish governments met last Monday. That’s why I’m here today. That’s why there will be a continuation of movement right across all the areas of the Agreement that we can deal with.
“We are prepared to move forward with the British government and the other political parties in the North to bring benefit to the people of Ireland,” Mr Ahern said.
Praising the announcement of a deal on this year’s July 12 march in Derry city, Mr Ahern said the Irish government was “delighted with the decision”.
“Obviously we have to keep in very close contact with the parties on the ground.
“Ultimately, dialogue is absolutely important but, equally so, adherence to the Parades Commission – putting in place the necessary police arrangements to ensure that the determinations of the Parades Commission are adhered to – and we just hope and pray that the good grace and the understanding that was developed in Derry will continue over the next two weeks,” Mr Ahern said.
After meeting Mr Ahern, the new Ulster Unionist Party leader Reg Empey described the talks as “constructive”.
Mr Empey said any IRA statement would be judged against the organisation’s actions.

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