Sinn Féin are ‘failures and they know it ’, DUP deputy leader says
Nigel Dodds launches full-scale attack on main partner in Northern Executive
Republicanism has failed, nationalism is struggling to keep a united Ireland on the political agenda, and the IRA is defeated, the DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has told his party’s annual conference.
Mr Dodds described Sinn Féin as “failures” and also said that Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams must not be allowed to walk away from his responsibilities over the Disappeared.
Much of his speech was taken up with attacking Sinn Féin which is the DUP’s main partner in the Northern Executive while he also dismissed the proposal by the North’s Attorney General John Larkin for an end to prosecutions and inquiries into Troubles-relating killings up to 1998.
“Justice will never be served by a proposal for an effective amnesty - and this party will not support such a proposal,” he said.
Unionists stood firm when republicans tried to bomb them into a united Ireland, the North Belfast MP told delegates today in the La Mon Hotel in east Belfast at the opening of the two-day annual DUP conference.
DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson delivers his keynote speech tomorrow .
“People in Sinn Féin try to pretend that their project of a united Ireland is still on track. But they are failures and they know they are failures,” said Mr Dodds.
“Even within the nationalist community there is no appetite for Irish unity. The 2011 census tells the story. Only 25 per cent of people responding viewed themselves as Irish. I sometimes wonder did Martin and Gerry even read the census data?” he added.
“Republicanism has failed. Nationalism is struggling to keep the notion of a united Ireland on the political agenda. The IRA has been defeated,” he said.
Mr Dodds also attacked Mr Adams over renewed allegations that he was implicated in the abduction, murder and secret burial of mother-of-ten Jean McConville - allegations he denies.
“Gerry Adams cannot simply be allowed to walk away as if none of this happened. The selective amnesia and transparent deception of the Sinn Féin leader only serves to add to the suffering of those already hurting,” said Mr Dodds.
“The measure of any society is the value in which we hold justice. The spotlight is rightly pointing at Gerry Adams. He and his party colleagues in Sinn Féin hope they can ride out the storm. But this is a storm that will simply not go away. Gerry Adams is not and must not be above the law. Nor is he some kind of victim,” he added.
Mr Dodds said now was the time for Sinn Féin to prove it was a “mature political party” which was truly prepared to move forward into a new political future.
“It is time for Sinn Féin to decide: are they a political party in a modern liberal democracy? Or will they continue to be a haven for those who have scant regard for the law?”
Mr Dodds said there was “abject abdication of leadership” twelve months ago over the “destructive decision” by Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Alliance Party to remove the Union Flag from the City Hall except on designated days. “As a result community relations soured, and enormous damage was done to trust and relationships at all levels,” he said.
“Change will not be brought by violence and intimidation. Change will only be brought, in the way it has always happened and that is by the ballot box and through the political process,” he added.
Mr Dodds said that in relation to the continuing loyalist protests at Twaddell Avenue in north Belfast that Orangemen should be allowed to complete their Twelfth of July parade past the Ardoyne shops. “It is time for the Orangemen of north Belfast to be allowed to return home.”