Irish Republican News · January 6, 2018
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
DUP ‘in denial’


The DUP has been accused of not facing reality after the hardline unionist party called for a return of full Direct Rule of the north of Ireland from London, and condemned comments by the 26 County Taoiseach that he supports a united Ireland.

Next Tuesday will mark one year from the day Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness resigned from the office of First and Deputy First Minister, pulling down the shutters on the dysfunctional, scandal-ridden Six County institutions. Efforts to restore them are expected to gather pace in the coming weeks, although major issues remain to be resolved.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said his party is ready to engage positively in talks, but that unionists are “refusing to face realities” in terms of equality and other issues.

“If progress with the DUP proves impossible, the onus then falls on to the Irish and British governments to spell out how they intend to jointly ensure that all past agreements are honoured,” he said.

“A first step toward this will be the establishment of the intergovernmental conference.”

Britain’s expected departure from the European Union has added to pressure on the DUP, despite it holding the balance of power in London. Unionists have also been unnerved by recent comments from Tanaiste Simon Coveney that he wants to see a united Ireland “in his political lifetime”, comments which were denounced as “aggressive” by DUP leader Arlene Foster.

This week Taoiseach Leo Varadkar failed to soothe matters when he said he would not accept the return of full Direct Rule, and added: “In terms of a United Ireland, our constitution is clear on this. Our constitution aspires to there being a United Ireland. I share that aspiration.

“But only on the basis that it is done by consent, and when it does come about I would like to see it command a degree of cross-community support. And that’s the way I would envision it.”

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson accused Mr Varadkar of “deliberately stoking up tensions”.

“I think there is a pattern emerging here - the Irish government seems intent on goading unionists, not only on Brexit, but they also sabre rattling around the internal affairs of Northern Ireland,” he said.

Donaldson claimed Dublin having a say in the Six Counties would “breach all previous agreements”.

“The Taoiseach does not have a veto on Direct Rule,” he said. “Recently Simon Coveney said we needed to build bridges but meanwhile the taoiseach is burning bridges.”

Mr Adams said the Dublin government’s assertions about unity were welcome, but urged them to become persuaders for reunification with unionists, which he said could be “a critical role”.

“Aspiration is good but it’s not enough. Irish Unity must be planned for and it must be worked for. Brexit has re-energised and reshaped the debate about a United Ireland. There are many more people talking positively about a United Ireland that at any time in recent years.

“Sinn Fein wants to see a Irish Unity referendum in the next five years. We believe that such a referendum is achievable in that timeframe and we also believe that it is winnable.”

Mr Adams said the DUP’s current behaviour could be explained because there was “no longer any absolute protection for the Union from British governments the way there used to be”.

“British government involvement in our affairs will end when a majority vote for that,” he said. “That is why the Irish government’s recent assertions about Irish Unity are welcome,” although he noted that Dublin must “move beyond the rhetoric”.

Mr Adams, who is set to step down as Sinn Fein leader later this year, said he wanted the 20-year-old Good Friday Agreement to be remembered as “a positive point in the history of our island”.

A call by the DUP leader Arlene Foster for a return to full Direct Rule “flies in the face” of her party’s devolutionist position, he said.

“But it also reflects a refusal to face realities,” he added. “The big question in any new negotiation is; can the political parties in the North and the two governments resolve outstanding differences? That is more of a question for the DUP than for Sinn Fein.”

© 2018 Irish Republican News