Irish Republican News · September 7, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Bafflement at DUP contradictions
Bafflement at DUP contradictions

Amid conflicting messages from unionists in recent days, Sinn Féin president Mr Gerry Adams said yesterday that London and Dublin must now decide whether the Good Friday Agreement or the Democratic Unionist Party is to prevail in the North of Ireland.

But despite a sectarian outburst by the DUP's Ian Paisley against `romanist' (Catholic) members of the media last week, Mr Adams said he did not rule out progress at the talks, at which British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, will preside.

He repeated his prediction that the DUP would eventually do business with Sinn Féin -- if not in the talks next week.

However, Tony Blair today warned that failure next week would prompt ``another way forward'', indicating that the still unimplemented 1998 Agreement could soon be shelved.

He said that a resolution was ``pretty simple'', involving a clear move by the IRA to ``stop the violence completely and absolutely'', and that unionists should ``go into governmment with them''.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin today pointed to contradictory messages being delivered by the DUP. Following a hardline declaration by Ian Paisley that a change in Sinn Féin's identity as well as IRA disbandment was required if there is to be progress, Gerry Adams said the DUP ``had been honest - they want to destroy the Good Friday Agreement''.

Speaking during a promotional book tour in England, Mr Adams said the prospects of progress ``are totally reliant upon a British government bringing unionists through the pain barrier and on them reconciling themselves to, or coming to tolerate, a new dispensation.''

The Sinn Féin president added: ``It is a matter of whether the Good Friday agreement prevails or the position of the DUP prevails, and that again is a question for the Taoiseach and for the British Prime Minister.''

However, Mr Paisley's deputy, Peter Robinson, today delivered an upbeat assessment of the potential for an agreement. Once again, Mr Robinson effectively denied the policies of his party leader, suggesting that agreement would follow in time.

He said: ``Only time will tell the extent of the progress that will be made but I believe that the ingredients are in place, if all parties are willing to embrace entirely peaceful and democratic means, to achieve an agreed settlement.''

Mr Robinson insisted that the 2001 census results showed there was no prospect of a united Ireland in the foreseeable future -- despite the combined unionist vote dropping below 50% for the first time this year.

``The choice for republicans is simple,'' he said. ``The terms will not change. Our mandate is clear. The days of half-measures, hidden gestures and woolly words are over. There can be no more each-way bets. Either republicans commit to exclusively peaceful and democratic means or they will have no place in government.''

But in Belfast, Sinn Féin Assembly group leader Conor Murphy said that people were receiving ``mixed signals'' from the DUP.

``If today's speech by Peter Robinson is a genuine indication that a deal can be done then we would obviously welcome that,'' he said. ``But I have to say the messages coming from the DUP have caused considerable confusion.''

© 2004 Irish Republican News