British Direct Ruler Peter Hain was told today to stop pretending he is an honest broker in the peace process after he echoed new demands by Ian Paisley’s hardline DUP.
Mr Hain said in Belfast that a period of ‘verification’ was needed following any move by the Provisional IRA to disarm and stand down.
The IRA is currently considering Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams’s appeal in April for the organisation to abandon its armed struggle and pursue its goals through peaceful and democratic means.
Earlier this week, the DUP warned unionists against becoming “fixated” on an IRA statement.
“Any Sinn Féin/IRA commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means will only be meaningful when the unionist community is convinced that it is for real,” said DUP MP Nigel Dodds. “That will take a long time”.
Peter Hain told a meeting of trade unionists in Belfast yesterday that IRA words would not be enough to convince others.
“Words are not enough, but they are an important start and I hope people would not underestimate the significance of a credible statement from the IRA following their consultation exercise.
“A commitment in words needs to be capable of being verified over a period of time so that everyone can see that the commitment is real and lasting.”
Sinn Féin’s newest MP Conor Murphy pointed out that the British government had still to honor key peace process commitments.
Mr Murphy said the British government had to acknowledge that all parties, and not just republicans, had to step up to the mark in the process if there was to be progress.
“The issue of armed groups is one of a number of outstanding issues yet to be fully resolved but progress has undoubtedly been made in this area in recent years,” the Newry and Armagh MP said.
“On the other hand, the British government has failed to deliver on the range of basic rights and entitlements demanded by the Good Friday Agreement. The British government have allowed progress on demilitarisation, human rights, equality, the Irish language, policing and justice to become stalled by rejectionist unionism failing to engage. This approach cannot be allowed to continue.”
“Peter Hain needs to end the pretence that he is some sort of honest broker in this process. He is not. He is the British Secretary of State and has commitments and obligations to honor,” Murphy said.