20 March 2006

DUP fury at Irish over deal choice

Sunday Life

Alan Murray
19 March 2006

The DUP have responded angrily to Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern suggestion that Dublin and London would take "the tiller of power" in Northern Ireland if local parties can't agree on power-sharing.

Peter Robinson last night claimed Mr Ahern's bid to push unionists towards a deal on an Assembly were "ill-judged" and "foolish".

Mr Ahern said that in the absence of agreement between local politicians over an Assembly the two governments would have to "step in" and make an "inter-govenmental approach" to decisions.

"It's probably not the preferred option," said Mr Ahern in an interview.

"We would far rather that people from Northern Ireland have their hand on the tiller of power but if they decide not to want that then the two Governments would have to step in and take decisions and people from Northern Ireland and their representatives won't really have any great say in that respect and that is unfortunate."

With the two Governments expected to produce a revised 'blueprint' for future political development in three weeks time, Mr Ahern's remarks are being interpreted as an indication of the outline of proposals being considered by Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.

But Peter Robinson, the DUP deputy leader, warned Mr Ahern that his comments wouldn't assist in establishing secure political structures here.

"These are ill judged remarks from the Irish Foreign Minister.

"He says he is trying to push the process forward, so for his Government to attempt to tell Unionists what to do, or else, is foolish.

"He and Bertie Ahern are hardly in a strong position to recommend that unionists should embrace arrangements for government with Sinn Fein that they themselves won't touch.

"It's the Irish Government that has been telling Sinn Fein that it isn't fit for Government in the Republic and telling Gerry Adams that his party can forget about any coalition with Fianna Fail," added Mr Robinson.

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