DUP SAYS NO
Ian Paisley's DUP has cast doubt on the possibility of an
agreement including policing in the North of Ireland next month
and has again dismissed a statement by Gerry Adams last week
that the IRA could be "removed".
The two parties have been issuing duelling statements in advance
of intensive negotiations in southern England next month on the
implementation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
DUP Deputy leader Peter Robinson today confirmed his party's low
opinion of a statement in which Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
suggested that the IRA could stand down and disarm in order to
remove it as an excuse by unionists for blocking political
progress in the North.
And he also immediately rebuffed a call by Adams for the swift
devolution of policing and justice powers to a restored Assembly
in Belfast, voiced in an article today.
In the article, Mr Adams set out Sinn Fein's requirements for a
special party conference to consider supporting the PSNI police
in the North.
He called for the two governments to keep there commitments if
there is to a resolution of the political stalemate, and said
that the sequence of events will be essential to deal with
matters already promised.
In particular, he said the transfer of powers on policing and
justice away from London to Belfast within a short timeframe was
". . . If the outstanding issues around policing, which are
mainly about achieving civic policing and democratic control of
policing, are dealt with, as I believe they can be, then I would
be prepared to go to our ardchomhairle to ask for a special
ardfheis to discuss this matter," Mr Adams writes.
He says such a move has been agreed by London, but "the details
have yet to be worked out and unionist agreement is also
He adds: "There should be no underestimation of the scale of
shift in republican and nationalist thinking for Sinn Fein to be
involved in policing, not only because of the emotions involved,
not only because of the nationalist experience of policing in
the North, but also because our country is still partitioned.
For this reason the transfer of powers on policing and justice
away from London to Belfast within a short timeframe is
But Peter Robinson stressed that the IRA would have to
decommission all of their arms and wind down if unionists were
to agree to the transfer of policing and justice powers to a new
devolved ministry at Stormont.
The DUP deputy leader said it was a mistake for Gerry Adams to
try and put a definite timescale on the transfer of policing and
justice powers from London.
"There are so many pitfalls around this subject of policing and
justice," he said.
Mr Robinson said reaching agreement could require more thanb
next month's talks, due to be chaired by the 26-County Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
He said the transfer of policing and justice powers could take
place in the lifetime of this assembly or the next but he could
not be prescriptive.
"I would have to say that if the DUP exercised those powers now
I do not think there would be confidence in that from the
nationalist community and if Sinn Fein were to exercise those
powers, there certainly would not be any confidence in the
unionist community as things stand.
"If there was decommissioning by them of all their illegal
weaponry and if there was an end not just to paramilitary but
also criminal activity in a convincing way, then that would, I
believe, create the confidence among unionists."
He also defended colleague Ian Paisley Junior`s criticism of
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams last week over his comments that
republicans may have to prepare for the IRA being wound down in
the context of a new peace process deal. "It was DUP policy down
the line," he said.
Mr Robinson added: "I hope Mr Adams on this occasion does what
Sinn Fein and the IRA failed to do on previous occasions but
only time will tell.
"He cannot expect unionists to jump up and down with joy because
of what he has said."
Mr Robinson was responding to a challenge by Sinn Fein's Alex
Maskey to come forward and state what his party's position was
on Mr Adams's comments.