Irish Republican News · December 30, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
DUP says ‘No’ for New Year

Ian Paisley’s DUP has said it will not re-enter a devolved government with Sinn Féin as existed before the suspension of the Belfast Assembly three years ago.

“Yes, we do want devolution and local decision-making by local Assembly members but the old-style executive devolution with Sinn Féin in Cabinet positions is not on the horizon,” DUP MP Nigel Dodds said today.

Dodds was responding to an appeal from British Direct Ruler Peter Hain for the North’s politicians to make progress in 2006. The DUP has always refused to share power or hold direct talks with Sinn Féin, the largest nationalist party in the North.

The Dublin and London governments have been keen to raise spirits and inject momentum into the talks process following revelations over the role of Denis Donaldson, a top British informer in Sinn Féin’s ranks. Three years ago, Donaldson’s “arrest” and a staged police raid at his office at the Belfast Assembly precipitated the collapse of the political institutions set up under the 1998 Good Friday peace Agreement.

Hain said political movement, goodwill between the parties and unequivocal support for policing must take place in 2006. He said these were essential if assembly elections due in May 2007 “were to have any meaning”.

“Inertia is not in anyone’s interest,” he said.

But Dodds insisted that Mr Hain had allowed Sinn Féin “a veto” over political developments by insisting on power-sharing. He said this was “stymieing any form of devolution or political movement which does not involve an executive with Sinn Féin”.

It is still hoped that a series of concessions by the Provisional IRA last year to disarm, end its armed struggle and all other activities would convince the hardline DUP, now the largest unionist party in the North, to engage in talks on a return of power-sharing.

However, the Democratic Unionists have insisted further “confidence-building measures” will have to be introduced before they can even contemplate going into talks to revive devolution.

Meanwhile the 26-County Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said yesterday he hoped to see the suspension of the Belfast Assembly and other political institutions lifted in 2006, and “the earlier the better”.

Mr Ahern told BBC radio that peace and stability in the North are more important than a united Ireland.

In an interview, he confirmed that if a forthcoming government report confirmed that the Provisional IRA was inactive, he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair would try to restart all-party talks.

Mr Ahern added: “Of course, I would like to see a united Ireland in my lifetime. I don’t know whether I will or not. But what is more important is that we see peace and stability and people working together in Northern Ireland.”

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has said “It is time for both the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister to grasp the momentum created by the IRA ending its armed campaign and decommissioning its weapons.

“They need to bring forward a plan in early 2006 to see the restoration of the power sharing institutions in the north.”

Mr McGuinness said there were “huge problems to be dealt with across the economy and in the delivery of public services” and it was time that the era of “day release Direct Rule Ministers” was brought to an end.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News