02 March 2006

DUP defends ongoing refusal to share power with SF


02/03/2006 - 08:29:59

The Democratic Unionist Party has defended its continued refusal to share power with Sinn Féin despite the IRA's declaration of an end to its armed struggle.

Party spokesman Ian Paisley Jnr said yesterday that the IRA was still capable of returning to violence and, as long as that continued, his party would never share power with republicans.

Mr Paisley was speaking after PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde told the Policing Board in Belfast that there was no evidence of any violent intent by the IRA.

The DUP is refusing to accept that the IRA's war is over, pointing to claims from unnamed security sources that the organisation retained some weapons despite saying it had decommissioned its entire arsenal last year.

Those claims have been rejected by the IRA, while the decommissioning body has also said it can find no evidence to back them up.

Despite this, Mr Paisley is continuing to insist that the IRA is "armed to the teeth" and has taken a tactical stance between violence, criminality and politics.

The DUP man's comments come as a Sinn Féin delegation prepares to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair today to discuss the restoration of the power-sharing institutions in the North.

The Irish and British governments are planning to put their own proposals on the matter to the Northern political parties due to the DUP's refusal to negotiate a power-sharing deal with Sinn Féin.

Mr Blair is then expected to recall the Assembly in shadow form and give the DUP one year to decide if the IRA is honouring its commitment to non-violence.

Sinn Féin is opposed to such a plan, believing it would encourage DUP hardliners to seek further concessions.

The party also says the IRA has done everything required of it and the DUP should not be allowed to hold up progress.

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