Irish Republican News · February 25, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Betwixt and between the election hustings
Betwixt and between the election hustings

The North’s election campaign moved into full swing last week, with the Democratic Unionist Party publishing its manifesto.

A key question being raised again and again on the campaign trail is whether Ian Paisley’s DUP will say yes to local power-sharing in the North by the magic date of March 26.

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness yesterday said the DUP must sort out its “betwixt and between approach” to power-sharing.

The Mid Ulster candidate said the message he was getting on the doorsteps across different constituencies was clear.

“People want to see local politicians taking responsi-bility and taking decisions. There are too many big issues out there to be left to part-time direct-rule ministers,” he said.

“People are frustrated that the DUP remain equivocal about taking responsibility.”

However, Strangford MP and DUP assembly candidate Iris Robinson said that as a direct result of her party’s strategy, Sinn Féin and the republican movement had been forced to ‘jump first’.

“For the first time in the process it has finally been accepted that parties who want to be in government must be truly democratic, supporting the police service, the courts and upholding the rule of law,” she said.

The DUP’s manifesto provided no surprises. Sinn Féin, it said, would be tested for “delivery” on its pledges, and the DUP would not accept power-sharing until it was satisfied that republicans had been “brought to heel”.

The DUP was also engaged in a game of political brinkmanship. Its senior members were insisting that power-sharing could only take place if the British government pledged a new financial windfall package for the Assembly.

Asked about warnings that the doors of the Belfast Assembly would be shut on March 26 if there was no power-sharing executive by then, Mr Paisley replied that the DUP was not condition-led or calendar-led.

He recalled that previous ‘deadlines’ had proven false. Mr Paisley said there would be “no more blackmailing” of unionists.

“I don’t believe the dates of the secretary of state are good dates - and I would not ever think of putting them in my salad,” Mr Paisley said.

He ruled out power-sharing unless the Provisional IRA “completely repudiate terrorism” and “become democrats”, without going into further detail.

SF SEE BREAKTHROUGH

As he prepared to campaign in two target seats for Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams urged voters in South Antrim and Lagan Valley to “make history” for his party.

The West Belfast MP, who is campaigning on behalf of Mitchel McLaughlin and Paul Butler in the two constituencies tomorrow, said: “In the last election we made a breakthrough in North Antrim and it is our hope to replicate that success this time around in these two constituencies.

“There is a real sense that we are very close to a major breakthrough in these areas.

“We have two experienced candidates and two strong constituency teams who are focused on delivering in these areas.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s republican opponents, including some former supporters, have been rallying. Former Noraid chief and Irish People editor Martin Galvin said support for independent republican candidates were being underestimated.

Galvin spent the last week campaigning for independent republicans Peggy O’Hara in Foyle and Gerry McGeough in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

While he prepared to return to the United States he said that the independents would surprise many of their political opponents in the March 7 election.

“They have people campaigning with them who were with Sinn Féin for a long time and gave a lot of themselves to the cause,” he said.

© 2007 Irish Republican News