DUP PUSHES 'PLAN C'
The Democratic Unionist Party is to push for an alternative 'Plan C' --
which would see Sinn Fein excluded from political institutions in
Belfast -- should the party fail to satisfy its demands in a future
power sharing government.
Ian Paisley's party has launched its campaign for the March 7 Assembly
election despite significant internal dissatisfaction that the hardline
unionist party could soon take the reins of power in Belfast in tandem
with what an organisation it still refers to as "IRA/Sinn Fein".
Despite the end of the Provisional IRA's armed struggle, and Sinn
Fein's recent move to endorse the British PSNI police in the Six
Counties, the DUP still refuses to hold direct talks with Sinn Fein.
While the DUP has yet to reveal its manifesto for the election, it has
been confirmed the party is pressing for a so-called 'Plan C'
mechanism. This would ensure that other parties would take control of
government if Sinn Fein failed to abide by what the party described as
A March 26 deadline has been declared by British Prime Minister Tony
Blair and 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to form a new power sharing
government of unionists and nationalists in the Six Counties. Previous
deadlines in the peace process have not been observed.
However British Direct Ruler Peter Hain has warned that failure to
share power by March 26 -- 'Plan A' -- would result in the Belfast
Assembly being dissolved and the two governments putting in place new
joint partnership arrangements for advancing the 1998 Good Friday
The so-called 'Plan B' would see a deepening and extension of the
cross-border arrangement under the Good Friday Agreement, with more
cooperation between Dublin and British Ministers on key policy areas.
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness dismissed the DUP's 'Plan C' claims. He
said the overwhelming majority of people on the campaign trail were
telling his party they wanted power sharing between the parties right
away, and that the DUP were getting the same message.
"There is only one plan and it is that we have this election on March
so we can have the institutions up and running by March 26," he said.
"I think if that doesn`t happen the two governments would be duty
to move directly to the joint partnership arrangements they indicated
they would move to.
"So it is neither Plan B or C for us. It is Plan A. It`s about being
positive and moving into this election, putting our agenda to the
people across a range of issues."
Launching his party's campaign, DUP leader Ian Paisley claimed Sinn
Fein's recent endorsement of policing had fallen short and took issue
with a remark by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams that the party would
"put manners" on the PSNI.
"There are too many ifs and buts and teaching people manners and
that sort of thing and I don't think that is helpful."
He also suggested Sinn Fein did not deserve any credit for encouraging
people to assist the PSNI investigating the murder of Newry man Stiofan
Loughran, who was stabbed in Derrybeg in the city on February 8th.
"It was one of their own, wasn't it", he told reporters.
Sinn Fein warned that the DUP was "a party in disarray"
SF South Down Assembly candidate Caitriona Ruane said some of those who
took Paisley's 'never, never, never' at face value "cannot come to
terms with reality".
She said: "If the DUP does not share power with Sinn Fein then 'there
is something worse in its place', to quote ex-DUP Councillor Leslie
Cubitt, referring to increased Dublin/London co-operation."
Ms Ruane pointed to reports that senior DUP members in Ballymena are
refusing to canvass for Ian Paisley, as well as the resignation of Jack
McKee, a veteran Paisleyite, and the resignation of one of the founding
fathers of the party, George McConnell.
"This is unprecedented territory for the DUP and it would come as
surprise to us if Ian Paisley finally balked at sharing power. In such
circumstances it will have been the historic sectarian culture which
undermines progress in the North and the unionist community will
undoubtedly have to rethink the mandate they gave the DUP.
"For our part, the future is clear. There is no going back on the
Friday Agreement and we will ensure that the two governments continue
to implement change."
Another councillor confirmed his resignartion from the DUP, claiming it
had "gone too far". Craigavon councillor Mark Russell said he
tendered his resignation to the party this week over concerns about
power-sharing with Sinn Fein.
"Its clear that if you vote DUP in this election, you will be voting
for Sinn Fein/IRA into government," he declared.
TORY LEADER ON CANVAS
Meanwhile, British Conservative party leader David Cameron has called
on voters in the North to leave behind "sectarian politics"
canvassing for his party's candidate in North Down.
James Leslie is attempting to gain the first Tory seat in the Belfast
Assembly in the North's wealthiest constituency.
"I believe the Conservative Party has a lot to offer people in Northern
Ireland because we ought to be getting away from sectarianism and
voting on the basis of the community you belong to," said Mr Cameron.
HHowever, Mr Cameron failed to say whether any potential Conservative
Assembly members would designate themselves as unionists once in the
The Conservatives will field nine candidates and hope to make a bigger
impact than the 0.2 percentage points they gained in the election of