15 April 2006

Unionists in broadside at 'plan B' bid

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam
15 April 2006

Ulster Unionists are planning an international campaign in an attempt to embarrass the Government over its 'plan B' strategy for joint stewardship of Northern Ireland with the Republic.

The initiative could involve a series of high-level meetings with international organisations in the coming months.

"Fundamentally", the party warned last night, Prime Minister Tony Blair's proposed "joint management" by London and Dublin if the Assembly collapses is a "breach of commitments to all residents living in Northern Ireland".

Former Executive Minister Dermot Nesbitt said he has been asked by UU leader Sir Reg Empey to spearhead the programme to "expose" the Government, which is still in the planning stages.

"The task is extremely difficult - the governments have the power while citizens' power is weak, " Mr Nesbitt conceded.

"Only by a process of exposure and possible embarrassment is there any chance of success, such is the power of government today."

Just a week after the joint statement by Mr Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the UUP claims the new British-Irish partnership is outside the terms of both the Good Friday Agreement and international law.

"Put simply, the aspect of treating nationalist/republican aspirations for a united Ireland as equal to the unionist position is a crime against international law and without precedent," Mr Nesbitt argued.

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