Irish Republican News · December 29, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: ADAMS SEEKS ONE MONTH REVIEW
ADAMS SEEKS ONE MONTH REVIEW

Next month's review of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement must be limited to one month, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said today [Monday].

The Irish and British governments have said they hope that all-party discussions in the New Year will revive the stalled northern peace process and local devolved government at Stormont.

However, Ian Paisley continues to refuse to share power with Sinn Féin -- or even engage in direct dialogue with the party. Paisley's DUP became the largest unionist party in elections last month.

No timetable for the talks has been announced, but Mr Adams has called for them to be limited to four weeks followed by prompt publication of the review's conclusions.

The DUP's Sammy Wilson claimed last week that his party was working hard to find a new form of self-government for the North of Ireland that would be supported by nationalists. Wilson was responding to allegations that the party was dragging its feet ahead of the review.

The Sinn Féin leader said all political parties should be invited to take part as well, along with business, civic, church, equality, human rights and trade union representatives.

This process was, he said, about a review of the operation and delivery of the Agreement. While his party welcomed the assertion by both governments that it would not be a review of the fundamentals, it was concerned other parties may seek renegotiation.

Mr Adams said: ``There is an onus on both governments to make it clear that this will not happen or that anti-Agreement parties will not be allowed to use the review for their own ends.

``The review is not a substitute for working political institutions.''

He said it was disappointing and unfortunate that parties were considering their approach to the review in the context of a continuing suspension of the political institutions which could only serve to encourage those who persist with a negative agenda and seek to veto the Agreement's implementation.

He added: ``The suspension is itself a breach of the Agreement and undermines substantially any assertion by the governments that its fundamentals are not up for renegotiation. The suspension of the Assembly should be lifted immediately.''

DONALDSON SET FOR DUP

Meanwhile, Anti-Agreement unionist Jeffrey Donaldson appears ready to announce that he is to join Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party and has urged former colleagues to abandon David Trimble's Ulster Unionist Party.

Donaldson is likely take at least two other UUP assembly members with him, giving the DUP a large majority and posing further problems for the peace process. If joined by four UUP defectors, the DUP along with hardliner Bob McCartney could secure a blocking majority of 36 seats in the Assembly -- equivalent to 60% of unionist members -- presenting a seemingly insurmountable obstacle for the troubled political institutions.

Donaldson has refused to confirm his plans but said unionists need to unite around one party ``because it is the only way to stop Sinn Féin dominating Ulster politics. That is a major factor with me.

``My own view is that the UUP is no longer capable of being the party behind which unionism can unite.''

Donaldson recently resigned from the UUP along with fellow Assembly members Arlene Foster and Nora Beare. This week their supporters are reported to be persuading constituency associations to switch to the DUP alongside their elected representatives.

There has also been speculation that the DUP may decide to run Donaldson alongside Ian Paisley in the European elections in June in a bid to win a seat from the UUP's Jim Nicholson. However, on the nationalist side, the SDLP's John Hume and Sinn Féin's Bairbre de Brun could capitalise on a split unionist vote to win a second nationaliust European seat for the Six Counties.

The DUP leader, Ian Paisley has said that if Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble ``has any sense'' he would resign.

Earlier this week Mr Trimble made it clear that he intends to remain as leader of the UUP and has no intention of deserting his post.

But Mr Paisley said: ``There is not one voice to defend him. There is not one voice out in the open fighting for him. There has been complete silence from his best praisers in the past.

``If Mr Trimble has any sense, looking at the demise of many Official Unionist leaders, he should get out while the going is good.''

© 2003 Irish Republican News