17 April 2003 Edition

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Australian backing for Agreement

A group of Australian MPs and trade union leaders have this week put their names to a letter sent to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern urging that the Good Friday Agreement be implemented in full, the institutions be restored, and the Assembly elections proceed on 29 May as planned.

"We were profoundly disappointed that your governments did not issue your Joint Declaration as planned last week," they wrote. "We were eagerly looking forward to the Declaration as a vital consolidation of the Peace Process and as the mechanism through which the guns can finally be removed from Irish politics and the conflict resolved peacefully through the political process."

The MPs welcomed the IRA's announcement of their intentions as courageous and calle don the governments to respond positively and publish the Joint Declaration immediately.

Pallone urges Blair to do more

New Jersey Democratic Representative Frank Pallone Jr made a statement in Congress earlier this month urging President Bush to influence the current peace process during meetings with Tony Blair.

"It seems the two Prime Ministers are planning to unveil an emergency formula that they hope will break the impasse and put the power-sharing government back on track," he said.

"While this is obviously good news, I worry that Prime Minister Blair will not go far enough to ensure that there is a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. Mr Blair must take immediate steps in providing all residents of Northern Ireland the basic rights they deserve."

Pallone stressed the importance of a Bill of Rights and called on Blair to also address the issues of policing and the military presence in the North.

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