Donaldson swiftly rejects document

The hardline Ulster Unionist, Mr Jeffrey Donaldson MP, swiftly broke ranks and firmly rejected the prime ministers' document, …

The hardline Ulster Unionist, Mr Jeffrey Donaldson MP, swiftly broke ranks and firmly rejected the prime ministers' document, even before the party as a whole made up its mind.

Mr Donaldson only recently rejoined the UUP negotiating team after walking out on Mr David Trimble just ahead of the signing of the Good Friday agreement.

Tonight it appeared the two men were heading for another falling out, Mr Donaldson rejecting the proposals as "fundamentally flawed".

He said: "I don't see how I can commend this document in the present circumstances without decommissioning. I need Sinn Fein/IRA to start decommissioning their weapons."

Mr Donaldson said The Way Forward fell well short of what the Ulster Unionists were looking for, actual decommissioning before Sinn Fein was admitted to government.

Mr Peter Robinson MP, deputy leader of the anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party, said the proposals were worse than the Hillsborough Declaration and the Downing Street Declaration.

"It is worse because this is government before guns without any sanction against the IRA if they don't decommission."

Mr Robinson said, worse than that, if the IRA did not decommission it was democracy which suffered "because it is the democratic institutions which will be suspended".

He said Mr Trimble might be able to sell it to his Assembly party and party executive but he would never be able to sell it to the unionist people of Northern Ireland.

News of the possible deal at Stormont emerged as members of the Long March were taking part in a Twelfth mini-parade in Lurgan.

Several politicians taking part in the march phoned friends or listened to portable radios for news of what the two governments had outlined.

On learning the details of the package, an anti-agreements unionist, Mr Norman Boyd of the Northern Ireland Unionist Party, said he believed Mr Trimble would have difficulty selling the deal to his party and the unionists.

READ MORE