The British government will not cut side deals with the Republican movement to speed up the resumption of power-sharing, UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Hain said tonight.
For the first time since his appointment, Mr Hain met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern in Dublin.
Mr Hain said the only way to a meaningful political solution was through partnership talks with everybody involved.
“You can’t solve this problem by side deals,” he said. “You have to work together with all the partners involved.”
“Ourselves as governments have been stuck together with an umbilical cord these past seven or eight years. No side deals.
“I’m confident progress can be made over the coming months. I hope that it can be over weeks but let’s not put timetables on it.”
Mr Hain said he had “a very good meeting” with Bertie Ahern before he joined the Dermot Ahern for a working dinner in Iveagh House.
The Foreign Affairs Minister welcomed Mr Hain into his new role and said he hoped to continue the excellent relationship he had enjoyed with his predecessor, Paul Murphy.
He said: “We have to continue the excellent relationship that both governments have. This partnership is crucial to the outworkings of the Good Friday Agreement.”
Mr Ahern said the relevant issues will also be discussed at a British-Irish Intergovernmental conference later this month.
Mr Hain added: “An umbilical cord links the Irish and British governments in this process, in this ambition to end the conflict and create a permanent political solution through getting the institutions up and running and stability and prosperity which I think we can do.
“We will work together and spare no effort to achieve that.”
UK prime minister Tony Blair is due to meet the leadership of the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin in Downing Street tomorrow.
Dermot Ahern is also due to hold talks with US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland Mitchell Reiss in Dublin tomorrow afternoon.