Irish Republican News · November 21, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Cheerful Paisley threatens expulsion over SF talks

The DUP leader, Ian Paisley, has said that ``any party member who negotiated with Sinn Féin after the election would be immediately expelled.''

Dr Paisley was speaking as he campaigned in County Down as part of an apparent DUP strategy to keep their aging leader away from the media.

But the comments have further underlined the difficulty facing the peace process in the eventuality that Dr Paisley becomes the dominant unionist figure in the new Assembly following next Thursday's poll.

His health and role in the campaign have been questioned, but he has made light of the matter.

``They say I'm dying, but I'm taking a long time to die,'' he told journalists. ``I rise at 3 a.m. I have breakfast and read the Bible. I'm on the bus from morning until evening. I attend nightly campaign meetings. I love elections.

``I love meeting the people and they love me. They know I've never misled them. I'm truthful and blunt. You don't need a dictionary to understand Ian Paisley.''

Dr Paisley describes the public response to the campaign as ``overwhelming - I've never seen anything like it''.

``After the agreement, the DUP was written off. They said we were finished, but the wheel has turned. We will be the biggest unionist party after the election. It's a modern miracle.''

Today, DUP supporters forced the rival Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, to abandon an election walkabout in Antrim town.

With five days to go before polling day, Mr. Trimble had intended canvassing in the Castle Shopping Centre.

He arrived by helicopter on a tour of Counties Down and Antrim but was heckled as he spoke to shoppers who called him a traitor for negotiating with Sinn Féin and shaking hands with Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.

Meanwhile, the Ulster Unionist Party has said the DUP's position on devolution is ``a massive departure from their previous position''.

He described the DUP plan to retain the Belfast Assembly but to abandon the principle of power-sharing as a ``Stormont County Council''.

``The great deception continues,'' said former economy Minister Reg Empey, who accused the DUP of making ``a cynical attempt to disguise the fact that they have accepted the institutions, including all-Ireland bodies.''

``This latest stab at rational politics is as doomed as their re-negotiation ploy - nobody will buy it. Nationalists certainly won't go for what effectively amounts to a Stormont County Council,'' he said.

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© 2003 Irish Republican News