|JOHN REID'S STATEMENT ON SUSPENSION|
October 14, 2002
|In a statement issued Monday morning, Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary, John Reid, announced his office would assume day-to-day governing duties, officially suspending the power-sharing government for the fourth time in three years.|
As you know, over the past weeks and months the political process in Northern Ireland has encountered increasing difficulties. My sincere hope was that we would be able to overcome those challenges. But it is obvious that this has proved impossible in the short term.
Regrettably, therefore, I have today made an Order under the Northern Ireland Act 2000, suspending devolved government in Northern Ireland.
It will come into effect at midnight tonight.
The Prime Minister and I remain totally committed to the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement. It has already brought great benefits to the people of Northern Ireland. But it has become clear that decisive action is needed in order to safeguard the progress made and tackle the remaining challenges.
The Prime Minister and Taoiseach will be issuing a joint statement today, making clear that both Governments remain totally committed to the Agreement in its entirety.
I will make a full Parliamentary statement tomorrow setting out the reasons for the action I have taken and our approach to the period of suspension.
Meantime, I would simply make these points.
Firstly, the recent difficulties in Northern Ireland stem from a loss of trust on both sides of the community. In particular it is essential that concerns about the commitment to exclusively democratic and non-violent means are removed. The time has come for people to face up to the choice between violence and democracy. It is also essential that each community has confidence in the commitment of the other to the Agreement.
Secondly, we now need to move rapidly and decisively from the recent weeks of political uncertainty. I have no doubts that the people of Northern Ireland - who should be always the ones at the front of our minds in all that we are doing - welcome, appreciate, and deserve devolved government. Like them, I would have much preferred devolved government continuing, with local Ministers making local decisions.
But until it can be restored, I and my colleagues will dedicate ourselves to working for the good of all the people of Northern Ireland to the best of our abilities. In this context I would like to welcome Angela Smith and Ian Pearson to the Ministerial team.
Thirdly, I want to stress that this is an impasse - hopefully short lived - in one aspect of the Agreement. It isn't the whole Agreement. It isn't the whole peace process. We will continue, in co-operation with the parties and our colleagues in the Irish Government, to carry forward that process and the implementation of the Agreement.
The Policing Board is widely agreed to have been one of its finest achievements. I want their work to continue. Today I will be inviting all the existing Board members to continue providing their excellent service to the community. I sincerely hope that they will all accept reappointment.
Finally, it is our aim to find a basis on which all the institutions of the Agreement can be brought back into operation as soon as possible. This is our aim. We will make every effort to do that, along with the Irish Government and the parties.
The election date scheduled for 1 May stands.
The Agreement remains a template for political process here in Northern Ireland. I hope the decision I have taken today marks a breathing space - a chance to gather strength - before that process moves forward once again.