There were no surprises as the DUP leader Ian Paisley flatly rejected
bid to form a power sharing executive at the shadow Belfast Assembly on
In a 14-minute session of the Assembly the veteran hardliner was asked
by the speaker of the house, Eileen Bell, whether he accepted his
nomination as First Minister by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.
Speaking first in Irish and then in English, and to some taunting from
the DUP benches, Mr Adams made his nominations through the speaker. Ms
Bell in turn asked Dr Paisley did he accept the nomination.
"Certainly not, Madam Speaker," said the DUP leader. "I
think it goes
without saying that the reasons [for rejecting the proposal] are well
known across this province, and they have been endorsed by the majority
of the unionist voters," he added.
Efforts by British officials to downplay the failure were unnecessary
as Monday's political theatre had been widely foreseen.
Mr Paisley later described the events as "a charade", which
glad was over. He also turned down, outside the chamber, a proposal
that all the leaders of the northern political parties take part in an
Assembly committee aimed at restoring devolution.
"We are coming down to the reality of the situation," said Mr
blasting what he called "IRA/Sinn Fein",
"Are we going to have in the Government of Northern Ireland those
are terrorists, those that condoned and even planned murders, who
robbed banks, who committed criminal acts and who will not support the
"The answer of Ulster is no. There is no place in any government
United Kingdom for those wedded to terrorism."
There had been no expectation ahead of the meeting that a DUP First
Minister and a Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister would have been elected.
Despite the failure of his proposal to select Mr Paisley and Sinn Fein
MP Martin McGuinness to head up a power sharing administration, Gerry
Recalling a famous Ian Paisley speech, the Sinn Fein leader said: "No
is better than never, never, never."
He continued: "We're in the business of trying to set up an executive.
"Others are here to string it out and engage in distractions and
shadow Assembly. We are totally and absolutely opposed to that.
"We have put forward a series of propositions which are all about
trying to get engagement through a committee or a series of committees
with a very tight focus that it has to be about the formation of an
The British government has confirmed it is planning to establish a
cross-party committee in the Assembly to discuss how to restore
power-sharing. The committee could ease the way for a historic first
official direct talks between the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Mr Adams said Sinn Fein would return speedily to the task of trying to
get First and Deputy First Ministers elected.
However he added that the DUP could only say no for a few more times
and if it still refused to share power the onus was on the British and
Irish Governments to implement outstanding obligations under the Good
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern have given
Assembly members until November 24th to elect a power sharing