Paisley suggests arming for conflict
The SDLP has accused DUP leader Ian Paisley of being
"disgraceful, reckless and inflammatory" after he yesterday
suggested that Protestants should be "forearmed" to deal with
alleged IRA threat.
Dr Paisley also accused the British government of engaging in a
"cover-up" in relation to IRA weapons decommissioning by the
Provisional IRA last October, and claimed that the IRA has
withheld some of its weapons to use against the Protestant people
He made the claim after he spoke to General John de Chastelain's
arms decommissioning body about the weapons destroyed in an act
observed by the arms body and two clergymen.
"We have now a cover up," the North Antrim MP declared.
Mr Paisley also insisted that the majority of people in the North
were opposed to any political developments, with people on the
street saying to him: "Big man, no change".
Paisley's intransigence was fuelled earlier this month when an
official IMC report based on British Crown force briefings
suggested that not all of the IRA's guns had been destroyed.
However, General de Chastelain's commission (IICD), the body
legally tasked with monitoring the decommissioning process, said
it was satisfied the IRA had put beyond use all the weapons under
The Democratic Unionists has demanded the IICD release an
itemised inventory of the arms destroyed. Last year, the party's
demands for a photographic record of the weapons, a demand linked
to the "humiliation" of the IRA, caused the collapse of the
process over a year ago.
Mr Paisley this week also called on MI5 and the PSNI to release
any information on IRA weapons.
"They should tell the people what they know.
"They should tell the people what they know so that the people
can be forearmed to meet what is going to happen because those
arms are going to be used against the Protestant population of
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said Dr Paisley's comments were
disgraceful, reckless, and inflammatory.
"They hark back to the 1970s when his wild hate-filled rhetoric
fanned sectarian strife," he said.
"On the one hand Paisley says that he raised loyalist
decommissioning with the IICD. Then in the next breath he
predicts sectarian warfare and gives them the excuse they need to
hold on to their weapons," said Mr Durkan.
He said Dr Paisley's comments encouraged paranoia and hate. "His
remarks must also prompt a total rethink by the two governments
towards the DUP.
"It beggars belief that any government would be considering
concessions to a party whose leader at the same time wilfully
stokes the flames of hate," added Mr Durkan.
Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said Dr Paisley's
meeting with the IICD had nothing to do with IRA arms.
"The IRA have dealt decisively with that issue and the DUP know
this. What [ the] meeting is about is part of the DUP search for
excuses not to engage.
"It is time that the DUP began to live up to their political
responsibilities and began showing the sort of political
leadership they promised to deliver.
"The time for excuses is over and the two governments need to
make this clear to the DUP," he added.
Criticism by Mr Paisley of the irish President, Mary McAleese
earler this week was also described by nationalists as an attempt
to divert attention away from the DUP's intransigence in the
"Paisley is just being Paisley and I don't think anybody should
take him seriously," said Alasdair McDonnell, SDLP MP for South
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has accused the London and Dublin
governments of 'telling lies' about attempts to exclude his party
from round-table peace process talks in Belfast this week.
He said republicans would not be sent "to the back of the bus"
after an attempt was made to exclude Sinn Fein from the talks on
Monday at the behest of the DUP. The proposal was rejected by
both the Ulster Unionist Party and the talks collapsed in
Sinn Fein attacked the SDLP for agreeing to the proposal, which
they described as "a highly retrograde step".
"Both governments were involved in constructing a process or
procedure to exclude Sinn Fein and this privately confirms our
public position that the governments have been pandering to the
DUP," a Sinn Fein official said.
"For the governments to expect that Sinn Fein would collude in
our own exclusion was mad stuff - the height of stupidity."
Republicans pointed out the proposal set aside the "inclusivity"
which they said was at the heart of the 1998 Good Friday
Sinn Fein President said he was "shocked at the stupidity and
naivety of the proposition which was being put to us. Here we are
11 years beyond [former British Prime Minister John Major] and
here's the governments thinking that we would go to the back of
the bus or go through a process of excluding ourselves".
Mr Adams said both governments were engaged in "telling lies"
justifying the attempt to exclude his party from roundtable
talks. Calling for a greater focus by Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair
on the talks process, Mr Adams said:
"The Taoiseach has to take a personal interest now in this
process. The British prime minister has to take a personal
interest now in this process.
"That's basically what I said when I spoke to the Taoiseach's
department on this matter, that they have to take responsibility
for this. This is a project which both governments are obliged to
However, British Direct Ruler Peter Hain described himself as
"pretty relaxed and quite encouraged by the way the day went".
"There is a bit of turbulence around today. That's no bad thing
because people have to realise we're for real," he said.