By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST — The British and Irish governments seem set to offer Sinn Fein two places in a "transitional" Executive if the party agrees to persuade the IRA to begin decommissioning.
At a meeting in London this Thursday, the two governments are expected to outline their latest proposal to break the crisis over decommissioning and to prevent political stasis during what’s feared will be a tense marching season.
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and the SDLP’s leader John Hume will join the British and Irish prime ministers at Downing Street.
Tony Blair and Adams met last week. A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister made it clear that he would "continue to work to find a way through the current difficulties."
Speaking at a Belfast rally to mark the 18th anniversary of the H-block Hunger Strike, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said nationalists were "tired, frustrated and angry" at unionists "reneging on the agreement."
Follow us on social media
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo
He said it was not a republican document but a compromise. "It took blood, sweat and pain to sign up to it," he said. "It did not resolve all the issues. . . . It was a structure or route map to a possible settlement. The only value in the Good Friday agreement lies in its implementation, otherwise it is not worth the paper it is written on."
SDLP leader John Hume told the annual conference of the Irish Labor Party on Friday in Tralee, Co. Kerry, that the agreement would not be allowed to fail.
He conceded that now was a critical moment, but he maintained: "The agreement is what we have worked for might and main over all these years. Now we have achieved our goal, we are not going to let it go."
He repeated his call for a declaration by all parties that they would be automatically expelled from any Northern Ireland administration if they abandoned their commitment to democratic and peaceful means.
Meanwhile, the DUP leader, the Rev. Ian Paisley, said the British and Irish governments should stop "bluffing" the people of Northern Ireland and call a halt to all talks based on the Good Friday agreement.
Paisley said the talks were already "more or less parked" and accused pro-Agreement politicians of duping people. "They should stop lying. If two cars are parked, and the drivers are having an argument, the cars are still parked.".