Donaldson trio launch `five commitments'

Hardline members of the UUP opposed to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement have issued their own ``post-election strategy'', calling for a ``better agreement''.

While the party's Charter of Principles and manifesto were ``fine as far as they go'', Jeffrey Donaldson said he and fellow UUP dissidents, David Burnside and Martin Smyth, had endorsed ``as individual candidates'' five commitments.

These included excluding ``unreconstructed terrorists'' from government, vetoing any move to appoint Sinn Féin North Belfast candidate Mr Gerry Kelly ``or any other IRA representative as Minister of Policing and Justice'', and co-operating with other parties ``to prevent Sinn Féin/IRA claiming key government ministries''.

The other commitments were to ``strive for a better agreement'' that would deliver political stability and a lasting peace, and ``to promote greater co-operation between unionists''.

The statement read: ``There is no doubt that the vast majority of unionists have lost confidence in the one-sided implementation of the agreement. Trust in republicans is at an all-time low following their activities in Florida, Castlereagh and `Stormontgate'.

``Unionists want to see a better way forward and they want their representatives to work together in future negotiations to more effectively represent the unionist cause.''

Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy criticised the dissidents' statement urging the exclusion of his party from ministries.

``Throughout this election campaign the DUP have focused on Sinn Féin and the obstacle that our agenda for change poses to their anti-Agreement project,'' he said.

``This morning the anti-Agreement faction of the UUP set out their rejectionist charter and stated that they see Sinn Féin as the primary obstacle to their attempts to re- negotiate and collapse the Good Friday Agreement.''

He added: ``The rejectionists know that a strong Sinn Féin vote will scupper their ambitions.''

Mr Trimble said yesterday it was wrong to view Mr Donaldson's strategy as a ``dissidents' charter'', claiming it was not a departure from the party manifesto.

``Any attempt to portray this as a distancing from our manifesto is wrong,'' he said. ``In fact, when you look at the points that are made, it is for the greater part repeating things that are already in the manifesto''.

Mr Trimble said Mr Donaldson had written to him before the manifesto launch suggesting the inclusion of his points.

``I looked at them and I ticked them off mentally as I went down because they are all in the manifesto. At that stage it was not reasonable to start re-writing the manifesto to use the form of language that Jeffrey has. The substance of these matters is in the manifesto.''

Gregory Campbell of the ultra-hardline DUP said: ``The Ulster Unionist rebels manifesto is a clear indication of the huge divisions at the heart of their party.

``Their call for other parties to block Sinn Féin from taking the health and education ministries falls short of the need for new structures of government in Northern Ireland.''

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