16 January 2006

DUP to outline 'devolution plan'


Ian Paisley is to outline plans to restore devolution to Tony Blair

The DUP is to table a paper proposing a return to devolution in NI which stops short of a power-sharing executive involving Sinn Fein.

At a news conference at Stormont, Ian Paisley said the 16-page document entitled "facing reality" would lead to the return of local decision-making.

The proposals will be presented to Prime Minister Tony Blair next week.

Mr Paisley said there was "no prospect of an executive involving the IRA" in the near future.

He also said it was "up to the IRA" to clear the passage and embrace democracy.

Mr Paisley refused to give a time-frame as to when his party would be willing to share power with Sinn Fein and would not give any details of what his party's proposals contained.

However, it is believed that one option being suggested is to give the assembly a role in passing legislation.

The DUP leader said his proposals "allowed for further building blocks once the foundations were firmly set for stable government".

"Devolution is still the best way forward and we will be striving to see progress made in the year ahead," Mr Paisley said.

"However in our view, reflective of the unionist community, there is no prospect of an executive including Sinn Fein/IRA for the foreseeable future.

"In keeping with our manifesto commitment the DUP will not countenance an executive in Northern Ireland that is inclusive of those who are not committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means."


However, Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty said the British and Irish governments had to make clear that the only way forward was through the Good Friday Agreement.

"They have an obligation to stand by the agreement and its power-sharing core. This includes the power-sharing executive," Mr Doherty said.

"The DUP cannot be allowed to continue to block forward movement towards the re-establishment of the political institutions."

Meanwhile, SDLP leader Mark Durkan has said the government should set a date for restoring devolution.

"The one way to cut through all that posture and posing and all that messing is for the governments to say there is a date in which the institutions are going to be restored come what may," Mr Durkan said.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey has also called for a date to be set for the reopening of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

He said the body could be given six weeks to agree a form of devolution.

The party sees the assembly's recall as a short-term measure while confidence and trust is built for a return to fully-fledged power-sharing.

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