Statement by Minister Cowen on the Arrest in Northern Ireland of a Sinn Féin Official
In response to the arrests in Northern Ireland and the search of Assembly offices in Stormont, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said:
“Today's events are a matter of concern for all of the parties involved in the peace process.
There should be no rush to judgement. The issues involved are serious. It is vitally important that as much information as possible is made available, consistent with due process and the administration of justice. Only that will allow for a proper evaluation of the implications of the events today.
This is clearly a very sensitive time in the peace process. Interface violence, paramilitary activity and sectarianism are ongoing challenges. It is vitally important that all of the parties continue to strive to sustain and enhance the peace and progress that the people of Northern Ireland have achieved.
The institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement have proven to be robust. The members of the Assembly and the Executive have faced challenging decisions before and have responded to them in the best interests of all of the people of Northern Ireland. The decisions taken by the elected members of the Assembly and of the Executive should be based on the full facts of the issue and a fair judgement of them.
I have spoken to the Secretary of State today. The issues involved are being reviewed in detail in the British-Irish Secretariat in Belfast. The Taoiseach and Prime Minister Blair will be meeting on Wednesday next and will have a full wide-ranging exchange of views on how to steer the process forward.”