UUP calls for on-the-run letters to be rescinded

Policy paper on flags, parades and past dismissed by Sinn Féin

US envoy Richard Haass and Prof Meghan O’Sullivan who proposals have been rejected by the UUP.

US envoy Richard Haass and Prof Meghan O’Sullivan who proposals have been rejected by the UUP.

Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 07:49

Letters to paramilitary on-the-runs ought to be rescinded and all cases of alleged terrorist activity should be re-examined, according to the Ulster Unionists.

The party is also calling for all so-called supergrass cases against paramilitary suspects to end.

These proposals are contained in a UUP policy document which also outlines the party’s plans for dealing with parades, flags and the past. The party has already dismissed as “not nviable” the proposals drawn up by former US envoy Richard Haass and Prof Meghan O’Sullivan.

Their draft plan for addressing these unresolved issues was concluded at the end of December but the parties which make up the Stormont executive remain bitterly divided.

The UUP has said it regards the Haass-O’Sullivan initiative as over and has produced it 17-page policy document in an attempt to fill the gap left by its departure from that talks process.

The party wants to see the Union flag flown from government buildings on designated days, as is currently the case at Belfast City Hall and Parliament Buildings at Stormont. More days can be added to the list on which the flag is hoisted if there is local political support.

On parades, the party wants the Haass plan for a compulsory code of conduct replaced with a looser voluntary one which would not be binding on the Orange Order and other organisations.

The UUP is also proposing that legacy issues arising from the Troubles be addressed by a reformed Historical Enquiries Team government by the British Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).

Party leader Mike Nesbitt said: “We’ve been working on our own proposals for some time. I don’t think it is good politics to just say ‘we are pulling out because we don’t like what’s happening’.

“If you’re going to pull out because you don’t like what’s happening, say that’s because we have a better set of ideas and these our ideas.”

The party paper sees what it calls the creation of “mutual trust” as key to positively transforming how political business is done.

Sinn Féin has dismissed the UUP policy paper as “fantasy politics” driven by electoral concerns.

Gerry Kelly said: “The proposals published today by the UUP include a march at Drumcree, the investigation of people who have been told no evidence exists against them and the dropping of investigations into offences where the PSNI have identified prosecutions can take place.”

“This is a list of unionist demands and entirely ignores the concerns and positions of nationalists and republicans,” he added.

“I suspect Mr Nesbitt knows very well that these proposals are not realistic proposals and are more about the upcoming election campaign than any sensible desire to deal with the past, parades or issues of cultural equality.”