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英国首相布莱尔98系列演讲之Reception for the Multi-Party Talks - 27 January

2006-05-26 15:42

  We meet at an important time in this process. The feedback I have had so far suggests to me that there has been a real benefit in bringing you all to London for this part of the talks. I welcome you all on behalf of a Government for whom Northern Ireland is a real priority.

  I have a course been both saddened an outraged at the murders of recent days and the unnecessary pain and suffering inflicted upon more families. It is vital though that we do not allow those killings to derail the talks process. That is what those who commit these murders want, and we must not let them get their way.

  The democratic, peaceful path towards a settlement is there to be taken. It is the only sensible path to take.

  It was right that the participants thought deeply about the UDP's position in the Talks. The principles of democracy and non-violence cannot be compromised. The UDP took the right decision to withdraw, and we took the right decision in saying that they could not stay in the talks at this time.

  But it is also right that the door has been left open to them to re-join if, over a period of weeks, there is a complete unequivocal and unqualified UFF ceasefire, demonstrated in word and deed.

  I know this is a difficult process. There will be setbacks. There will be times when there appears to be no way forward. But we must never, ever give up.

  Even in the few short months the new Government has been engaged in these efforts there have been moments of great difficulty. We have persevered. With the Irish Government, we published the Propositions document, which derived in a very real sense from the views of the parties. I welcome the broadly positive welcome it has been given. I understand the reservations which some have expressed on particular elements. However, I would emphasise again that the Propositions have been prepared to assist with the detailed negotiations and that nothing has been set in stone. The document we have tabled today with questions on North/South structures is designed to produce substantive discussion.

  It is up to you, the participants, to negotiate the detail and to find a settlement that will command widespread support across the communities. It is in these talks that progress will be made. It is the dialogue going on here that matters.

  It is not that long ago that it would have been hard to imagine some of the people here being in the same room. I believe that you have shown courage in coming this far and that you have demonstrated the will to succeed. I would now urge you to keep going, continue to its conclusion the process you have started, certain in the knowledge that finding agreement threatens no-one.

  We know that the current arrangements for Northern Ireland are not working properly. We know that the settlement to which we are working must be firmly based on the principle of consent which underpins these negotiations and provide a balanced outcome that meets the needs of both communities.

  We know too that compromises will have to be made. Fear and distrust of others will have to be set aside and negotiations taken forward on the basis of good faith.

  It will be difficult. The best things in life often are. But if your children, and your children's children, can grow up taking peace and security for granted, and be freed of the fear and prejudice that has plagued Northern Ireland for so long, it will all have been worth it.

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