UUP council to debate Joint Declaration
Hardliners within the Ulster Unionist Party have secured a showdown to
press for the party to reject the Joint Declaration published by the
Irish and British governments last month.
A meeting of the party's ruling Ulster Unionist Council is to take
place on June 16, it has been confirmed.
The Joint Declaration contained conditional pledges on the scaling down
of the British army presence in Ireland, policing and justice reform,
equality, human rights, support for the Irish language, and a sanctions
mechanism which could be used to exclude Sinn Fein from the political
process in certain circumstances.
Hardline unionists have been outraged by the Declaration, which they
say contains too many concessions to nationalists.
Their fury was fuelled by reports that the British Army's Royal Irish
Regiment could have its battalions in Ireland, amounting to some 3,000
A motion by UUP members opposed to the 1998 Good Friday peace Agreement
will urge delegates to reiterate the position that the UUP would not go
back into government with Sinn Fein until the IRA demonstrated it was
beginning to stand down. The motion would also urge delegates to reject
proposals linked to the joint declaration.
Ultra-hardliner Ian Paisley of the rival DUP challenged Ulster
Unionists to identify the benefits contained within the joint
declaration. Mr Paisley claimed the joint declaration was a blueprint
for "the advancement of terrorism" in the North of Ireland.
While suggestions that therte could be another attempted Ulster
Unionist leadership heave were being played down, Mr Donaldson said he
was confident his motion would be approved by the UUC.
"UUP members want clarity in the party's attitude to the joint
declaration which offers much to republicans and nothing to unionists.
They are not in the mood for another fudge. Rejecting the joint
declaration is also the only way to safeguard the future of the Royal
UUP honorary secretary, Ms Arlene Foster, said the UUC meeting would
give rank-and-file party members a valuable opportunity to discuss the
"I look forward to a constructive debate on the joint declaration
there is a need for clarity and plain language on the party's
position," she said.