Irish Republican News · November 14, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
SDLP, UKUP launch manifestoes

The real battleground in the assembly election is between those who want to protect the Good Friday Agreement and those who want to wreck it, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said yesterday.

``Between the totally pro-agreement SDLP and the totally anti-agreement DUP.

``How people vote - and how they transfer - will decide the course we take. Whether we step into the future or watch the clock go back. Whether we keep narrowing the gap or watch the gap grow bigger,'' Mr Durkan added.

The SDLP manifesto, launched yesterday, said that in any review of the Good Friday Agreement following the election, the SDLP will resist attempts to renegotiate the Good Friday Agreement.

They demand full implementation of the joint declaration's commitments on human rights, equality, demilitarisation, community relations, victims, the Irish language, devolution of policing and justice, and north/south co-operation.

Another section of the manifesto deals with the question of a united Ireland and points out that the SDLP is ``100 per cent'' in support. But that in such a scenario the agreement and its institutions should endure.

In a greening of the SDLP ticket, the party has vowed to demand a referendum on a united Ireland within the lifetime of the next assembly in the Six Counties. Such a poll, if called, would be a stepping-stone towards Irish unity, Sinn Féin said earlier this year.

But efforts to woo republicans stopped short when the party demands ``acts of completion'' from the IRA.

``Paramilitary groups which do not engage in acts of completion must be closed down by the police,'' the SDLP said in its manifesto.


Meanwhile, UK Unionist leader Robert McCartney revealed his party would take part in a review of the Good Friday Agreement if it was called after the election.

The party has previously opposed the Agreement and called for its renegotiation.

Launching his party's manifesto, he called for an end to the system in the Assembly which allowed Sinn Féin members to become ministers. Ministeries are assigned on the basis of parties strengths, under a set of rules known as the `D'Hondt' process.

The North Down Assembly candidate said: ``The UK Unionist Party says an executive with uaccountable ministers and no opposition is not democratic. The D'Hondt rules must go.''

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© 2003 Irish Republican News