DUP EYES VICTORY
Ian Paisley's DUP has formally declared the 1998 Good Friday
Agreement dead and gone as the party appears set to virtually
wipe out David Trimble's Ulster Unionist Party in the May 5
British general election.
SInn Fein and the DUP are predicted to make big gains in the
nationalist and unionist communities respectively. Early odds at
the bookmakers -- often considered a more reliable indicator
than opinion polls in the North -- show the two main parties
could scoop all but two of the 18 Westminster seats up for
grabs, leaving just one apiece for the UUP and SDLP.
Indeed, both the leaders of the smaller parties -- Mark Durkan
of the SDLP and David Trimble of the UUP -- are likely to lose
their seats, according to the bookmakers.
At the party's manifesto launch this week, Ian Paisleymade it
clear his party was targeting David Trimble's seat in Upper
Bann, and set the scene for a battle between his party and Sinn
Fein for the most number of votes cast in the north.
"The only way that IRA/Sinn Fein can be defeated is if the DUP
is declared by the majority of voters to be Northern Ireland's
largest party and the authentic voice of Northern Ireland," he
The DUP is also insisting the British government press ahead
with moves to form a devolved government without Sinn Fein
regardless of any further peace moves by the Provisional IRA.
And as far as the party was concerned, the Good Friday Agreement
Deputy leader Peter Robinson said: "The Belfast agreement is
dead, it is failed, it is gone."
Mr Paisley said Northern Ireland was on the eve of one of the
most 'destiny-deciding' elections.
He claimed that a "sea change" had taken place world-wide.
"Those who were once IRA/Sinn Fein apologists and defenders have
now turned their backs on them," he said.
"For the first time IRA/Sinn Fein has been totally wrong-footed.
Now it is up to the electorate to give their verdict on the
"The only way IRA/Sinn Fein can recover is by becoming the
largest party in Northern Ireland in this election. That is the
issue of this election. It is not a battle between the unionist
"It is a battle between victory and defeat for the IRA and the
salvation of the union."
Mr Paisley also said the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern must be told to
"keep his dirty hands of interference off the internal affairs
of Northern Ireland".
"We are not part of any Irish Republic. We don't intend to be a
part of any Irish Republic," he said.
"We are part of this United Kingdom and here we are going to
"The united Irish nightmare is ended. We have come out into the
openness of peace and prosperity... and the first of the sun
arising is now taking place."
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Caitriona Ruane launched the party's
Equality platform on Wednesday.
The party's South Down Westminster candidate said that "more
than 35 years after the Civil Rights Movement launched its
campaign to highlight the nature of structural discrimination in
housing, voting and jobs, these same issues remain at the core
of continued inequalities."
According to latest statistics, nationalists are more likely to
suffer from poverty, more likely to be unemployed or long-term
unemployed, and at greater risk of experiencing multiple
"The entrenched inequality within the northern state is such
that more than 35 years later we are still evidencing these same
patterns of inequality," she said.
"Sinn Fein wants an end to second class citizenship and an end
in the mindset of policy makers who, despite equality
legislation and equality mechanisms like the Equality
Commission, pay lip service to eradicating poverty and undermine
the equality agenda."