02 December 2005

Amnesty for fugitives dominates meeting

Irish Examiner

By Harry McGee, Political Editor

THE controversy over the amnesty for so-called republican on-the-run fugitives (OTRs) dominated the latest meeting between the Government and Sinn Féin in Dublin yesterday.

Although the meeting also explored the next steps in restoring the Northern institutions, the OTR question featured strongly during the one-hour meeting at Government buildings attended by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

The Sinn Féin delegation, speaking to reporters, said they wanted to learn the intentions of both British and Irish governments in relation to the next phases of the peace process.

The party has argued that moves towards devolution should commence immediately in the wake of the IRA standing down and its decommissioning of arms.

However, DUP leader Ian Paisley has already publicly ruled out any negotiations in the short-term on the grounds that the Independent Monitoring Commission will not give the IRA a “clean bill of health” when it next reports in January.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has previously stated he would like to see the assembly in place by spring. But Irish Government sources say privately that this timescale now looks optimistic.

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