13 May 2005

Derry Journal

Paisley Wanted Sinn Fein-DUP Outcome

By Ian Cullen
Friday 13th May 2005

IN HIS first major statement since his election as Foyle M.P., Mark Durkan last night launched a scathing attack on both Sinn Fein and the DUP claiming that they had gone out of their way to 'promote' each other in the run up to the elections.

Speaking to the 'Journal' from London where he was taking part in a 'get to know' Westminster induction yesterday, the SDLP leader said the posturing by the two parties ahead of last Friday's elections now looked stupid.

"Not only did Ian Paisley and the DUP promote Sinn Fein during the election campaign but Sinn Fein tried to promote confidence in the DUP during the election by constantly saying that there would be a deal immediately after the election between the DUP and themselves."

And the new Foyle MP launched a particularly scathing attack on the DUP leader and his aims for a voluntary coalition. "Ian Paisley might think that his calls for a voluntary coalition are impressive but they are not; they are hollow and unconvincing.

"He was happy to spend the election pumping Sinn Fein up because he wanted a two party outcome for Sinn Fein and the DUP.

"Everyone in the SDLP knew he wanted Sinn Fein and the DUP and that he hoped that I would not win Foyle. So, knowing all of this, does he really think we would fall for his calls for a voluntary coalition with him and the DUP?

"Ian Paisley's record over the last few days makes Sinn Fein's assurances about the DUP's real position sound stupid," he added.

And Mr Durkan accused the DUP of using an "inproportionate" election result to kill off the GFA once and for all.

"The DUP got a third of the vote but under the first past the post system ended up with half of the seats and they are trying to use that inproportionate result to declare the agreement buried.

"The SDLP are clear that no one party's mandate can override or overturn the agreement's mandate.

The overwhelming mandate for the agreement in the North and throughout Ireland should be the compelling standard for democrats," he said.

Mr Durkan's comments came after a meeting with new Secretary of State Peter Hain in which the possibility of entering into a voluntary coalition was put to the SDLP leader.

"I made it very clear to him that the agreement has to be his agenda, that Governments need to learn the lesson that conducting a process outside or against the agreement is not the way to underpin the agreement.

'He asked me my views on the option of voluntary coalition but I told him very clearly we will not make the mistake that others have made of stepping outside of the agreement as a mistaken short cut of getting back to it," he said.

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