DUP seeks meeting on talks with dissidents


THE DUP has called for a meeting with Northern Secretary Owen Paterson to discuss claims that the British and Irish governments were in talks with representatives of dissident republicans.

In his first comments since Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness claimed last week that the governments had been talking to dissidents, Mr Paterson said the British government’s position was consistent.

“Our position is completely clear, and consistent with previous governments, you cannot have meaningful talks, serious discussions, real negotiations, whatever you want to call them, with people who are not absolutely committed to peaceful means of pursuing their goals,” he told BBC Radio 4.

Mr Paterson said he could not publicly discuss “operational issues”. However, East Derry MP Gregory Campbell said his party would meet Mr Paterson to “try and flush this out once and for all”.

Mr Campbell said no one should be opposed to talks, but he said there had to be “a proper and firm basis for talks to take place and that must mean an end to violence and the removal of the threat which they pose”.

“Unfortunately we have seen this pattern of behaviour before from the last Conservative government when many people will remember the denials of contact with the Provisional IRA, only later to find that talks had been ongoing alongside their campaign of terrorism.” Accusing the British government of “equivocation and evasion” he said: “This is what delayed the political process for years in the 1980s and 90s.”