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October 13, 2006

Structure of Proposed Deal Outlined

Fri, 13 Oct 2006 11:19:35 -0600 (MDT)

Structure Of Proposed Deal Outlined

Northern Ireland could have devolved Government by March
26th next year if its politicians endorse the St Andrews'
agreement, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister
Tony Blair said today.

After three days of intensive negotiations the two Premiers
set out a sequence of moves on policing and reviving devolution.

Under the deal, the parties would have to respond by
November 10th, which would set off moves for the restoration
of power sharing by March 26th.

On October 17th, a new Preparation for Government Committee
at Stormont would meet and agree priorities for a new power
sharing government.

By November 21st, special legislation would be introduced at
Westminster to give effect to the St Andrews deal, with the
Assembly meeting on November 24th to nominate a Democratic
Unionist party First Minister and Sinn Féin Deputy First

That would be followed by an Independent Monitoring
Commission report in January, endorsement by the electorate
early in March followed by the nomination of other ministers
on March 14th with power finally devolved on March 26th.

The text of Mr Blair and Mr Ahern's agreement said all
parties needed to be wholeheartedly and publicly committed
in good faith and in a spirit of genuine partnership to the
full operation of power sharing and cross-Border and
British-Irish arrangements.

Mr Ahern and Mr Blair addressed reporters with a sign behind
them saying "St Andrews Agreement".

Mr Blair insisted the November 24th for acceptance was
unchanged and that the the joint proposals were not a
substitute for the Belfast Agreement. "I think we have a way
forward here," he said.

Mr Ahern concurred: "I believe that we have all of the
elements that can brign satisfaction to all of the issues if
not perfect by everybody's agenda is a fair and sustainable. "

The document also said every part of the community in
Northern Ireland should support policing and the rule of law.

"We believe that the essential elements of support for law
and order include endorsing fully the Police Service of
Northern Ireland, the criminal justice system, actively
encouraging everyone in the community to co-operate fully
with the PSNI in tackling crime in all areas, and actively
supporting all the policing and criminal justice
institutions including the Policing Board."

The governments said the Preparation for Government
Committee would continue talks on devolving justice and
policing powers from Westminster to Stormont. Parties would
try to agree the creation of a new policing and justice
department in Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Rev Ian Paisley that he hoped the "day of the
gunmen in government" is over.

But he warned: "It is deeds, not deadlines that count."

"Everyone who aspires to sit in a position of power in
Northern Ireland must, by word and deed give support for the
law of the land and the police service in it," Dr Paisley said.

With the DUP, Sinn Féin and other parties yet to sign up to
the deal, the politicians were warned that failure to
establish an executive would leave to the immediate
dissolution of the Assembly.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he would consult with his
party and the "wider republican family".

"I would ask them to get the documentation, to study it and
debate it out. Make their views known and be part of the
effort to resolve these matters," he said.

He said that the plans needed to be consulted on, but
restoring the political institutions was an "enormous prize".

"Common-sense political realism and the interest of all our
people demand we achieve this," he said.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said what had been
agreed was the "Belfast Agreement for slow learners".

"Sinn Fein will sign up to the PSNI being the only force of
law and order and Ian Paisley, or a colleague, will share
the joint office of first and deputy first minister with
Martin McGuinness in a mandatory coalition," he said.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said welcome progress had been made
towards restoring the power sharing institutions and pledged
that his party would continue working towards this.

"We believe that we can move from the politics of stand-off
to lift-off," he said.

In the event of the deal collapsing the two governments will
implement their Plan B of taking forward new partnership
arrangements under the Belfast Agreement. They have not yet
published what Plan B actually consists of but it is thought
that it would be based on a return to direct rule from
London with greater Dublin involvement.

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