5 June 1999

I offer my sympathy to Joseph, the husband, and family of Mrs. Elizabeth O’Neill, murdered in Portadown this morning. Her death is the latest in a long line of terrible tragedies. I condemn those responsible for this atrocity. I appeal to them, and to their leaders, to realise that these senseless deeds are only making the resolution of conflict more difficult.

The death of Mrs. O’Neill has been linked to the Drumcree crisis. It has often been said that the only resolution of that conflict is an agreement worked out by the two sides. That is clearly true which is why the present talks are so important and must continue. In the meantime it is the responsibility of the Government to see that the basic rights of people to life and security are protected in Portadown and everywhere in Northern Ireland. As I offer sympathy to all those whose homes have been attacked in recent times, I call on the Government to exercise that responsibility and ensure that Northern Ireland becomes a safer place for everyone.

I call on those elected and already given a mandate to implement the Belfast Agreement reached last year, to continue to try and make progress and so eliminate the dangerous vacuum created by the current impasse.

The substantial hope already raised must not be dashed. I appeal to all those who value that hope, to do all they can now to sustain it and to ensure that the journey towards a lasting peace continues. Above all they must remain calm and not allow themselves to be provoked into retaliation of any sort.