21 October 2005

Hain under fire for 'pro-nationalist stance'


21/10/2005 - 18:04:15

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain was tonight accused of being overtly pro-nationalist.

In a hard-hitting attack on the minister, Democratic Unionist MEP Jim Allister claimed Mr Hain found it impossible to wean himself off a nationalist agenda.

And as nationalist SDLP deputy leader Dr Alastair McDonnell challenged the DUP to publish their 64-page dossier of demands to Downing Street, Mr Allister accused the British government of embarking on a strategy to demoralise unionists.

The MEP told party colleagues in Newtownstewart, West Tyrone: “Peter Hain among unionists is fast becoming as distrusted and despised as Mo Mowlam, who was the last Secretary of State so overtly pro-nationalist.

“In the end unionists could not and would not work with her.

“Hain looks like he may be heading the same way.”

Mr Allister said the Northern Ireland Secretary had a lamentably blank scorecard in his efforts to win the confidence of unionists.

“Indeed, all the signs are that he finds it impossible to wean himself away from a nationalist agenda,” the DUP MEP claimed.

Mr Allister cited the release of Shankill bomber Sean Kelly from prison on the eve of the IRA’s statement declaring an end to its armed struggle in July as one example of the minister’s move to appease nationalists.

He also condemned the tearing down of British army watchtowers in the wake of the IRA statement, further plans to scale down the military presence including the scrapping of three Northern Ireland-based battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, the appointment of former Women’s Coalition Assembly member Monica McWilliams as Chief Human Rights Commissioner and moves to ensure that if Sinn Féin turns down Policing Board seats next April that they will remain in nationalist hands.

The MEP continued: “I see at work at least two government purposes.

“First, they hope that by heaping upon us increasingly unacceptable manifestations of Direct Rule they will soften us up to the point where we will meekly accept the failed Belfast Agreement structures as being better than Green Direct Rule.

“We must not fall for that ploy.

“Second, making unionist politicians appear impotent in the face of unpalatable concessions spreads disillusionment, diminishes the unionist vote and thereby serves the government’s purpose of facilitating the nationalist solution.

“Remember this government is pledged to legislate for a unified Ireland if only the majority would acquiesce.

“Demoralising unionism is a key factor in their strategy. It behoves us all to redouble our determination not to play their game.”

Mr Allister and his colleagues were tonight challenged to publish their list of demands to the government as efforts continue to persuade the Reverend Ian Paisley’s party to revive power sharing with nationalists following the completion three weeks ago of IRA disarmament.

South Belfast MP Dr Alastair McDonnell said: “The SDLP has always urged the two governments to engage with all parties, rather than going the way of side deals which just encourage the parties to seek concessions against each other.

“We can now see where the flawed policy of side deals leads – to the DUP presenting a 64-page list of demands to the British government.

“I challenge the DUP to publish their list so that we can see just who they are negotiating for. Is it just for themselves or for the whole unionist community?

“Is it perhaps for the Orange Order? Might there be a single demand on the list which actually represents the interests of all the people of the North?

“These are things we need to know if we are to build confidence in the DUP’s political intentions.”

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