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4 November 1999 Edition

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Frustration mounts

BY SEAN BRADY

Republican and nationalist frustration at the continued failure to find a way forward in implementing the Good Friday Agreement continues to mount as the Mitchell Review approaches a conclusion.

Deadlock still centres around Ulster Unionist Party insistence on going outside the terms of the Agreement and in demanding prior IRA disarmament before any movement towards the establishment of an Executive in the North.

Senator George Mitchell held talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday, 3 November, when he reported on his attempts to find a resolution to the political impasse. Mitchell had met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern the previous day. It is expected that he will meet U.S. President Bill Clinton later this week.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, 2 November, Mitchell said he said he expected to have his report ready ``shortly'' after meeting the various political parties in Belfast on Monday. He said he also intended to obtain a report from the international commission on decommissioning and that differences remained between the political parties.

Commenting on the continued lack of progress, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that while decommissioning was a huge issue for unionists, it had to be a voluntary process and the necessary political conditions had to be created, including the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. On the possibility of a breakthrough, he said he was ``hopeful the small chance there is can be nurtured. This is the best chance we have of resolving all these issues''.

Sinn Féin Assembly Príomh Aire Alex Maskey said that unionists were still unwilling and afraid to share political power with republicans. He said that if the political crisis was to be resolved the review itself needed to come to a speedy conclusion. ``The political parties have a direct and urgent responsibility to establish the institutions,'' he said.

Breakthrough or not, the necessity of implementing the range of fundamental political changes, including a new police service and equality legislation, will remain.
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