Irish Republican News · April 14, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
DUP ‘disdain’ for new approach

Ian Paisley’s DUP has warned London against any attempt to jointly manage the Six Counties with the Dublin government.

In a joint statement issued by the two governments last week, it was confirmed that if attempts to restore devolved power-sharing government fail by late November, then a ‘Plan B’ would see joint British and Irish management of key cross-border issues.

Sinn Féin last week agreed to take part in the main thrust of the new process, a reconvened Belfast assembly in May. But in the absence of an agreement between the DUP and Sinn Féin on a local power-sharing administration, the Assembly is to be scrapped and ‘Plan B’ implemented. It has also been confirmed that the November 24 deadline to restore devolution is to be written into law, posing a challenge to the historic intransigence of hardline unionism.

There was a particularly strong reaction by the DUP to one section of last week’s Joint Statement, which foresaw “a step-change” in advancing north-south co-operation in November. This was described by the DUP’s assembly group as “inflammatory language” which would “have absolutely no impact whatsoever upon our unshakable stance that those associated with terrorists and criminals cannot participate in the government of Northern Ireland.”

The DUP also said in any forthcoming talks it will attempt to secure “substantial changes” to the Good Friday Agreement.

It said the foundation of what it calls “the new assembly” must be built on the bedrock of accountability and transparency.

And as the largest party in the north it said it was “warning the government that threats of joint management with the Irish Republic will be of no benefit to the process and will have no influence on Democratic Unionists”.

“Such behaviour will be met with the disdain it deserves.”

However, the party announced that four if its members are to join politicians from across Ireland and Britain for the first time later this month at a major conference.

The party has never before taken part in a meeting of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body despite seats being reserved for it when it was founded 16 years ago.

The party will not actually take their seats in the body, which they have boycotted, but will instead make an hour long presentation.


Meanwhile, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has claimed that a surprising number of unionists now believe a united Ireland is inevitable and only a matter of time.

He said that “this generation can live in a united Ireland and Sinn Féin is wedded to democratic and peaceful means.”

Mr Adams said Sinn Féin wanted to see a republic that encompasses the entire island and is rights-based “but the unionists have to be comfortable in it”.

“This is the challenge for republicans and nationalists.”

And Mr Adams said they had to engage with all dimensions of unionism. For example, he said it was clear the business community see Ireland as a single economic unit.

Mr Adams was speaking at a press conference to relaunch a Sinn Féin discussion document which calls on the 26-County government to publish a policy discussion document and to begin the practical planning for Irish unity.

The day also marked the 8th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Mr Adams noted that at the time the Agreement was signed, he expected it would be “a battle a day” to ensure its implementation.

“And there have been difficulties. But despite these, significant progress has taken place in that time and we should be proud of that fact.”

He was asked if Irish unity was any nearer now or was the Six Counties in fact more like a British-administered province?

Mr Adams replied: “Well it is obviously part of the British state and that remains.

“But it is not as British as Finchley,” said Mr Adams, referring to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s infamous comparison of the North of Ireland to her own suburban constituency.

“There is an odd relationship now, constitutionally,” Mr Adams went on. “It reminds me in many ways of a couple who decide to divorce but decide to wait until the children grow up.

“The British government have legislated for that type of arrangement.

“You also have to factor in the resurgence, renewal and strength of Irish republicanism right across the island, obviously within Sinn Féin but not solely within Sinn Féin.”

  • The next speaker of the assembly will be former Alliance Party deputy leader, Eileen Bell, it has been announced. She will take over the position formerly held by former Alliance leader John Alderdice, who is currently a member of the IMC sanctions body.

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