Flash: SF call to address 'legacy of conflict'
There were signs today that the first steps towards a dramatic
development in the peace process were being put in place.
A senior Sinn Fein figure today called for the "legacy" of the
conflict to be addressed "now we have ended the war in our
Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin was commenting after
what was seen as a key speech by Ulster Unionist leader David
Trimble at a party conference in Armagh.
Welcoming the Ulster Unionist leader's address, the former
said at a separate Sinn Fein conference in Armagh: "We are
talking here about history that goes back hundreds of years.
"Now we have ended the war in our streets. Let's now deal with
the legacy of that conflict and do it in a measured way as
quickly as possible."
In a meeting to launch proposals for the development of the
Dublin-Belfast corridor, Mr McLaughlin said republicans were
pleased that David Trimble's speech had stressed the Good
Friday Agreement was the "only show in town".
The Sinn Fein chairman said the speech had "given some
encouragement that we could put together the type of agreement
that will see finally the implementation of the Good Friday
Agreement and the realisation of all our expectations.
"I think within the speech today, while there are issues
purely for unionist consumption, clearly republicans, if they
study it carefully, would see some signs for encouragement."
In his address, Mr Trimble spelled out his demands for the
restoration of the Belfast Assembly and his party's
participation in power-sharing with Sinn Fein.
He said his party backed the statement by the Irish and
British governments in April -- that the transition to peace
and democracy must be proceeding to "an unambiguous and
He called for "acts of completion" from republicans dealing
with "decommissioning, paramilitary violence and the effective
winding up of paramilitary organizations".
While stressing there was flexibility over the timing of the
transition, he insisted that the Good Friday Agreement had to
be recognised by republicans as a "settlement" that provides
"the full and final closure of the conflict".
But the language and tone of the address aggrieved UUP MP
He accused Mr Trimble of "watering down" the party's demands
on paramilitary decommissioning and disbandment.
He said: ""It is clear that he is watering down our demand for
decommissioning. How can you say a recommencement of
decommissioning is an act of completion?
"The resolution passed by the party stated clearly that the
decommissioning issue had to be dealt with conclusively.
"We need an end to paramilitary activity and we need the
winding up of paramilitary organisations before Sinn Fein can
get back into an executive.
"He is also preparing to do a deal on the devolution of
policing and justice in two years and that has not been
discussed within the party. He has consulted no one about it
and it is also contrary to our present position.
"David Trimble is going to go for another half-baked deal with
republicans that will fall short of unionist requirements but
this time the electorate will have their say on the deal and I
believe it will be comprehensively rejected."
Mr Trimble called on the three hardline MPs in his party to
"make up their minds".
"We shall see what happens over the course of the next few
days," he said.
"There is a contradiction in their position. They are refusing
to be part of the parliamentary party, but they say they wish
to become part of the Assembly party. Both parties have the
same policy, both are subject to the same discipline. There is
a contradiction in their stance. I would prefer them to
resolve that contradiction."
Meanwhile, David Ervine, leader of the loyalist Progressive
Unionists Party predicted Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is
on the verge of securing a huge IRA commitment that will
transform the peace process.
Mr Ervine made the claim as his own party gathered in east
Belfast for their annual conference.
While the process was generally being described as
make-or-break, Mr Ervine said a deal between republicans and
David Trimble's Ulster unionists may already have been agreed.
He declared: "Gerry Adams is going to be responsible for
something that changes this process forever.
"He is going to take the IRA where they have never been
"The question is will David Trimble respond as never before."