McGuinness sets Halloween deadline for talks
Sinn Féin has set a deadline of Halloween for a peace process
deal involving the hardline unionist DUP.
Nationalists have grown increasingly exasperated with unionism's
insatiable demands and the tendency of the Irish and British
governments to support increasingly hardline unionist positions.
Sinn Fein has said the Provisional IRA is ready to make a
historical move to advance the peace process, a move thought
likely to involve disarming and/or standing down.
Ian Paisley's DUP is demanding a total shut-down of the IRA
before the power-sharing Executive at Stormont can be
resurrected. It is also demanding that the Good Friday Agreement
is redrafted to isolate and limit Sinn Fein's role in the
The moderate nationalist SDLP, meanwhile, has expressed a
vehement determination to prevent what it calls the 'retrofit of
unionist majority rule' onto the 1998 agreement.
The DUP proposals include a plan for Ministerial decisions and
North-South functions to be subject to a (unionist) veto within
the Belfast Assembly, as well as the cleaving of the joint
Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.
Nationalists believe it is Paisley and his party that must
change, not the Good Friday Agreement.
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness asked: "Are they prepared to
accept a comprehensive deal based on the core principles of the
Good Friday Agreement, or are they going to continue to attempt
through the two governments to erode the power-sharing
"The DUP claim to be the confident and assertive leaders of
unionism. So let us see some of that confidence.
"It is time for the DUP to decide if they accept power-sharing,
equality, the All-Ireland architecture and the fundamentals of
the Good Friday Agreement or not."
Meanwhile, In a speech to students in Galway last night, Mark
Durkan said: "If the DUP stays on stand and deliver mode on the
Agreement the gaps will not be narrowed.
"After all it is not the Agreement that needs to change but the
"The SDLP has never sought to deny the DUP anything that they
are entitled to under the Agreement. But we will not let them
deny the people of Ireland the Agreement that they voted for."
Mr Durkan said he was not prepared to trust the DUP. "The DUP
are asking us to trust them on power-sharing. Meanwhile they
shaft nationalists at council level.
"In [Ian] Paisley's Ballymena, in [Peter] Robinson's
Castlereagh, [Jeffrey] Donaldson's Lisburn Council, the picture
is the same - nationalists are excluded, and others, too, when
they can," he added.
"That is why we are taking nothing on trust from the DUP. We
will not afford them a veto over nationalist ministers in the
hope that they will not use it. We will not allow them new
blocks on the North-South agenda on the assumption that they
won't abuse it," he said.