Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen T.D.
The Secretary of State has informed me of his decision to suspend the operation of the Assembly and Executive from midnight this evening. I will be meeting with Dr. Reid in Brussels this evening and will urge him to ensure that the period of suspension is as short as possible, so that these institutions can resume their important work with the minimum disruption and delay.
It is disappointing that we should, once again, find ourselves in this situation. However, I understand that the Secretary of State has taken this difficult decision to provide us with extra time in which to build on the progress made in recent weeks. We will continue to work to secure the full implementation of the Agreement and, as the Taoiseach said at Downing Street, the package which the two Governments put to the parties at the start of August remains the best way through which this can be achieved.
In the weeks since, and notwithstanding the intervention of the holiday period, we have been working with the parties to take matters forward. The issue of policing has been considerably advanced and we can now look forward to a Policing Board on which both communities are represented. The Board will have a key role in ensuring the implementation of the new policing arrangements which will be based on the new Implementation Plan and the package of measures agreed between both Governments at Weston Park, including a British Government undertaking to introduce new legislation.
The IRA's statement is also a positive step, but we need to see the necessary progress being made towards a comprehensive resolution to the question of arms.
Although nobody who supports the Agreement can welcome this suspension, I hope that all parties will make the fullest use of the time that is now available to us to move things forward in a positive and constructive manner.