13 May 2006

SF must back PSNI for power: Paisley

Belfast Telegraph

Warning as Assembly gets ready

By Kathryn Torney
13 May 2006

Sinn Fein must support the PSNI as part of any deal to restore a power-sharing government to Northern Ireland, insists DUP leader Ian Paisley.

Mr Paisley issued his warning today, just two days before the Assembly returns to Stormont.

In an interview in the Irish Times, he said: "The talks have no future until everyone who's going to be in the government of Northern Ireland is a complete and total supporter of the police."

In the interview he also kept the door open to an eventual partnership administration with Sinn Fein.

But he suggested that people "should not worry" about the November deadline set by the British and Irish governments and rejected the idea that his decisions might be motivated by a desire to spend the final years of his political career as First Minister.

"I'm not interested in office," Mr Paisley said. "Do you think I have come to 80 years of age to sell my soul? No, I'm not. What I'm interested in is to have a broad base of democracy on which we build, and then, come hell or high water, that edifice is going to stand."

He acknowledged that there would be tough negotiations ahead and that "a true democracy" at Stormont would require significant changes to the Belfast Agreement.

Asked if he understood that many Catholics would find it difficult, if not repugnant, to wake one morning and find him First Minister, he laughingly replied: "I think I wouldn't be the unionist I am if they didn't. I have said that personally to Bertie Ahern and his whole cabinet when I met them.

"I said, 'You are bound to be against me because I am against you. We're not sitting here in friendship or ecumenical kisses... we're sitting here because we are opponents on a vital issue."

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