Written answers

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Northern Ireland Issues

8:00 pm

Photo of Dessie EllisDessie Ellis (Dublin North West, Sinn Fein)
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Question 66: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the work he is undertaking to see that the British Government implement Article 20 of the Weston Park Agreement. [24354/12]

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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The various measures included in the package agreed at Weston Park in August 2001 addressed four issues to assist in the successful implementation of the Good Friday Agreement: policing, normalisation, the stability of the institutions and decommissioning. There has been huge progress made in all of these areas and this progress was highlighted by a number of important milestones during 2011. April 2011 saw the one year anniversary of the successful devolution of justice and policing to the Northern Ireland Assembly. On 5 May 2011 the Northern Ireland Assembly elections took place, the first time that a full Assembly term had been served out since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. The orderly and non-contentious manner in which the elections were held underlined that politics and society in Northern Ireland has continued the transition towards normality. November 2011 marked the ten year anniversary of the establishment of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Proposed draft legislation by the British Government to deal with this specific issue as referred to in paragraph 20 of the Weston Park accord was formally withdrawn by the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain MP, on 11 January 2006. The draft legislation, the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill , had been opposed by the majority of the Northern Ireland Assembly parties and the Secretary of State was compelled to withdraw the legislation when the only supporting party, Sinn Féin, could not accept certain aspects of the proposed legislation.

The Government remains committed to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Photo of Dessie EllisDessie Ellis (Dublin North West, Sinn Fein)
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Question 67: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the work he is undertaking to encourage the release of a person (details supplied) under the terms of the Weston Park Agreement. [24355/12]

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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It is our understanding that the prisoner in question has initiated legal proceedings to secure an early release and judgment on this is pending. It would therefore not be appropriate for me to comment any further at this stage other than to confirm that officials from my Department continue to monitor developments very closely.

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