UK security adviser arriving

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE British government’s security adviser will arrive in Manila on Monday for a two-day dialogue on the peace process.

Robert Hannigan, security adviser to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and head of UK Security Intelligence and Resilience. will meet with the Security Cluster of the Philippine Cabinet and leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to share the UK experience in the Northern Ireland peace process.

“I am delighted that Robert Hannigan, with his intimate experience of negotiating peace in Northern Ireland, is visiting Manila. Of course there are many differences between the peace discussions in Northern Ireland and Mindanao, but if the parties in Mindanao can gain insight from Robert Hannigan’s work, then his visit will be valuable,” Peter Beckingham, British ambassador to the Philippines, said.

“Hannigan’s visit follows discussions between UK Foreign Office Minister Meg Munn and Secretaries Romulo and Dureza in Manila in May, when they agreed it would be useful for a senior official involved in the Northern Ireland peace process to visit the Philippines.

“The idea of a sharing of experiences was initially brought up when President Arroyo met with Tony Blair in December 2007,” he added.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr. welcomed the visit of Hannigan.

“Dr. Hannigan’s visit is very timely as the Philippine government is shifting to a new paradigm in engaging various armed groups,” Esperon said.

Hannigan is responsible for advising the Prime Minister on security policy, intelligence matters, crisis coordination and civil contingency planning.

He is also responsible for the coordination and funding of the UK intelligence agencies and for the UK National Security Strategy.

Until 2007 he was the principal adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on the peace process, including negotiations with the political parties and liaison with the Irish government and the U.S. administration.

As political director general in Northern Ireland, Robert was responsible for the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) of 1998. He worked with Prime Minister Tony Blair, his Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell and successive Northern Ireland Secretaries (Peter Mandelson, John Reid, Paul Murphy, and Peter Hain) to achieve the government’s objective of establishing the power-sharing institutions envisaged in the GFA.

This involved some nine years of crises and setbacks, talks processes and summits, and elections, leading to the St Andrews’ Agreement in October 2006.

The process led to the agreement between the two major Northern Ireland parties, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein, to share power in a restored assembly in May 2007.

These parties are now negotiating the final part of the agreement, the devolution of policing and justice powers from Westminster to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The peace process involved the resolution of highly contentious issues, including the release of paramilitary prisoners, the reform of policing, the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons, new measures to safeguard human rights and equality, and dealing with the legacy of a violent past. Robert’s remit covered both political talks and negotiations with the representatives of republican and ‘loyalist’ (protestant) paramilitaries.