The comments I made at Hillsborough on 12 October were in response to specific questions from the media on the implications for participation in government in this jurisdiction if the issue of IRA weapons were conclusively and definitively resolved and the DUP were asked to accept Sinn Féin as partners in the Northern Ireland Executive.
My response was clearly predicated on circumstances changing and the republican movement demonstrating that it had definitively addressed the question of arms and accepted the reality that there could not be two armies in this State. I acknowledged the possibility that, in those changed circumstances, the question of Sinn Féin participating with others in government in the South could arise.
My comments were fully consistent with the Taoiseach's views on the subject, namely, that there must be an end to paramilitarism, that we must see the decommissioning of weapons, and that there can be no place for a private army. Our Constitution provides for only one Army — Óglaigh na hÉireann — as the Taoiseach made abundantly clear last Sunday, and as I did in the interview in question.
It is important that we do not lose sight of the central objective of the current discussions, namely, the full implementation of the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement. The Government is focused on two immediate and related priorities: achieving definitive closure on paramilitary activity and capability; and, in a new climate of confidence, restoring the full operation of the institutions of the Agreement on a stable, enduring and inclusive basis.
The realisation of that enormous prize of peace and political stability, which would transform politics in both jurisdictions on this island, was the main focus of my discussions with the Secretary of State last week. It will continue to be one of my key priorities in the days and weeks ahead, and I look forward to the continued support of the House in that vital project.