01 February 2006

DUP rules out power sharing

Daily Ireland

By Jarlath Kearney

The Democratic Unionist Party has ruled out any power-sharing government with Sinn Féin before May 2007.
Ian Paisley’s party made the announcement the day before today’s publication of the latest Independent Monitoring Commission report.
The party yesterday published the content of an “options” paper given to the British government earlier this month. The paper — entitled Facing Reality — contains a range of suggestions to replace the inclusive power-sharing executive at the heart of the Northern assembly.
Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty said unionists must not be allowed a “veto” over political progress.
The DUP’s starting point is that a power-sharing executive is not “a prospect for the foreseeable future”.
“It is sufficient, at this stage, to say: waiting for the conditions required for executive devolution to arrive is likely to cause the opportunity for any form of devolution to pass, given the need to have the assembly operating before May 2007,” the DUP document said.
DUP leader Ian Paisley said: “The very idea of a power-sharing executive with Sinn Féin is just not tenable.
“Unlike the previous situation when the UUP led for unionism, the government will find that we will not be budging on our assessment of the situation.
“We will not be browbeaten or forced into submission on this point. We have outlined a realistic and viable process that will allow for the democratic community in Ulster to move forward with confidence.
“If it is devolution the parties want, it will be on this basis or else no devolution will occur. The choice is there and it is now over to others to make that choice, to face up to reality and to grasp the opportunity before them.”
Pat Doherty said the British and Irish governments must now “press ahead with the implementation of the Agreement, as demanded by the overwhelming majority of Irish people.
“The Good Friday Agreement is an international treaty passed overwhelmingly by the Irish people in referendum. The two governments have an obligation to press ahead with its full implementation in the time ahead,” Mr Doherty said.
“The DUP cannot be allowed to veto this process.
“The IRA initiatives of last year provide an opportunity for the two governments to speedily put together a process which will deliver a restoration of the political institutions. We have been pressing the governments to do this in discussions over recent weeks and this has to be the focus of the planned talks in early February.”
Mr Doherty described the DUP proposals as “an attempt to subvert the political process and delay the process of change”.
“The two governments have an obligation to stand by the Agreement and its power-sharing core. This includes the power-sharing executive. Sinn Féin will not countenance a move away from the fundamental principles which underpin the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the Democratic Unionists needed to accept that they “have no right to write off the Good Friday Agreement”.
Mr Durkan said his party “will never accept” the dilution of “executive devolution”.
“Even if other parties are ambiguous, we are clear that there is no acceptable level of direct rule. Finally, not once in what the DUP has said today have they mentioned the North-South agenda. Yet it too is a fundamental part of the Agreement and an integral part of what the SDLP has always stood for. DUP papers which do not address North-South simply don’t address political reality,” he said.

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