Irish Republican News · November 5, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Peace process deadlock feeds election campaigns

Ulster Unionists yesterday unveiled a 10-point charter which is intended to hold the party together through the next three weeks of election campaigning.

The Ulster Unionist Charter, carried below, which was made public by the party leader, Mr David Trimble, says that UUP members would ``hold firmly to the requirement for acts of completion dealing conclusively with decommissioning, terrorist activity and the effective winding up of paramilitary organisations''.

The ``transition to peace and democracy needed to be brought to a conclusion'' before Sinn Féin could participate in a new Executive, Mr Trimble said.

``We have never said we will work with republicans sharing power over policing when there are private armies in existence,'' he added.

He accused the DUP of being prepared to do precisely that, pointing out that Sammy Wilson had said he would continue on the Policing Board if Sinn Féin's Mr Gerry Kelly were there.

Asked if he would consider Sinn Féin requests for talks after the election in the absence of ``transparency'' over IRA decommissioning, he replied: ``What is the point in them saying that they accept the need for greater transparency and not delivering it? That is not helpful.''

Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams said he did not wish to comment on Mr Trimble's 10-point charter and on comments concerning future power-sharing in any Executive with Sinn Féin.

He was speaking as he led his party's election candidates in Belfast to hand in their nomination papers in the city centre yesterday.

Asked if he was worried that agreements worked out with other parties in advance of the election could be unpicked, Mr Adams said: ``What we're looking for is people to endorse and to validate what we have done so that the process of change can continue.''

He added: ``Whatever happens the process of change will be strengthened if people vote for Sinn Féin.

``We have taken risks, we want people to endorse that, we want them to join with us, we want to see a prosperous, peaceful future for everyone. The way to do that is to vote for Sinn Féin,'' Mr Adams said.

The Ulster Unionist leader challenged anti-Agreement unionists to make it clear how it proposes to renegotiate the Good Friday Agreement.

Accusing DUP leaders of refusing to talk but insisting it would negotiate, Mr Trimble suggested that signals were being exchanged with Sinn Féin despite their denials.

``I suppose one feature of silent negotiation is through semaphores and there has been plenty of semaphoring going on,'' he said.

``The semaphoring from the DUP in recent weeks and months indicates that their statements that they won't talk directly to Sinn Féin is simply not true.

``I would suggest that one simply should not believe what the DUP say on this. What you should say to them is why won't they tell us what they are going to negotiate and what compromises are they going to make?''

The `election charter' has been dismissed by fellow unionists.

During campaigning in his North Down constituency, hardline UK Unionist leader Robert McCartney claimed the pledges would not ``con'' the electorate on November 26.

``I don't think people are impressed,'' he said.

``I think also they know I could even sign up for his 10 principles. So I believe could (Democratic Unionist leader) Ian Paisley.

``Because there was so much division within the Ulster Unionist Party, they obviously had to have something so wide and all embracing that literally any unionist could sign on.

``I think I have had only one person over the past two days that has mentioned the charter. It is a non-event.''

Trimble was denounced by the DUP deputy leader Mr Peter Robinson who said: ``Voters should take a careful look at the ballot paper to see if David Trimble is running for the Ulster Unionist Party or the Monster Raving Loony Party. His comments that his party may make gains at the election are an echo of his comments before the last Westminster election when the UUP lost almost half its seats.''

Robinson claimed it had become inevitable that there would be negotiations on the future of the Good Friday Agreement after the elections -- instead of a fully-formed administration.

He said: ``We were told it wouldn't happen.

``All and sundry said that negotiations would not follow Assembly elections. How wrong they were.

``Nobody who inhabits the real world would now dare argue against the proposition that immediately and inevitably after the November 26 poll new negotiations will take place.

``The DUP has been making this very point for some considerable time. We have won the argument.'' He also claimed the negotiations would not be able to exclude his party's ``proposals for fundamental change''.


The nationalist SDLP and Ulster Unionists clashed last night accusing each other of attempting to `steal' positions from Sinn Féin and the DUP.

``Earlier this week we made it clear to the Paisleyites there would be no renegotiation of the agreement,'' the SDLP's Alex Attwood said.

``David Trimble needs to know that positioning himself as DUP-lite and promising to wreck inclusive government is going to get him nowhere.''

Showing belated courage in his contribution to the peace process negotiations, Mr Attwood said: ``It is about time David Trimble had the courage to stand up to the likes of Jeffrey Donaldson.

``The previous five years of dither has got him nowhere, and he is going to be left high and dry by the hardliners unless and until he is brave enough to take them on.''

But the UUP hit back last night accusing the SDLP of trying to steal Sinn Féin's `clothes' after party leader Mark Durkan yesterday called for the flying of the British Union Jack on public buildings throughout the North to be banned.

``I think that says more about their desperation to be more hardline than Sinn Féin, than it does anything else,'' Ulster Unionist councillor Chris McGimpsey said.

Alban Maginness, SDLP candidate for North Belfast, countered by claiming the DUP offered nothing ``beyond hot air and bluster'' and every voter needed to give thought to stopping the DUP.

``The only question is whether they want rule from unaccountable London or a permanent unionist junta in Belfast.

``It is a programme that is both childish in its stubbornness and dangerous in its intransigence.''

The following is the full text of the `ten-point Charter' published this week by the Ulster Unionist Party.

1. Ulster Unionists will work for and serve in an inclusive, democratic Assembly.

2. Ulster Unionists demand and will work towards the end of all paramilitarism, loyalist and republican.

3. Ulster Unionists will hold firmly to the requirement for `acts of completion', dealing conclusively with decommissioning terrorist activity and the effective winding up of paramilitary organisations, making it clear that the transition to peace and democracy is being brought to a conclusion before Sinn Féin can participate in a Northern Ireland Executive.

4. Ulster Unionists support new powers to monitor paramilitary activity and impose sanctions. We will press the International Monitoring Commission and Government to act decisively with paramilitary breaches, regardless of political considerations.

5. Ulster Unionists look forward to a normal security profile in a peaceful environment, retaining the Home Service RIR. We seek the devolution of policing and justice powers but will only consent when there is a fully peaceful and democratic society with wholehearted support for the police.

6. Ulster Unionists will oppose any amnesty or apparent amnesty for fugitives from justice (OTRs).

7. Ulster Unionists are determined that policing and sentencing powers and anti-social behaviour legislation keep pace with the rest of the UK.

8. Ulster Unionists are committed to the merit principle in employment, human rights, equal citizenship and equality of opportunity for all.

9. Ulster Unionists will work for the social and economic betterment of all our citizens, regardless of class, gender, colour, race, nationality or religion.

10. Ulster Unionists will ensure Northern Ireland remains British, an integral part of the United Kingdom.

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© 2003 Irish Republican News