07 April 2006

Paisley warns on North-South dealings

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam
07 April 2006

DUP leader Ian Paisley has warned the Government that any moves towards new partnership arrangements with the Republic to jointly govern Northern Ireland will be strongly resisted.

The North Antrim MP said the proposals for a 'step change' in North South co-operation if the re-called Assembly failed to agree on an Executive by November 24 would change the "status quo" and the British Government would prove unable to deliver on joint sovereignty.

Northern Ireland was now part of a United Kingdom where a foreign government has more say than the people in the province, he argued.

"Given the reality that there will be no Executive in the foreseeable future the best way forward is to get working in the Assembly," he added.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, however, urged the DUP to say 'yes' to power- sharing and warned: "The days of unionist domination are over.

"We have concerns about aspects of the statement, but we think (it's) a good forward step."

As all parties studied the proposals, Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said his party will be there when MLAs meet for the first time on May 15.

Sir Reg said the partnership plan with Dublin were "quite a threat" but unionists should not be surprised.

Senior Sinn Fein negotiator Martin McGuinness said his party's preference was for government with the DUP rather than any form of joint authority between London and Dublin, while the ultimate goal of Irish reunification remained.

The SDLP have welcomed the chance to elect a First and Deputy First Minister and get the Agreement working again.

"As we predicted, the DUP seem comfortable with these proposals and believe them to be right up their street. That street is a dead end," SDLP leader Mark Durkan warned.

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