Election proposal "a pledge to democracy"
THE Independent Unionist MP or North Down, Mr Robert McCartney, has said the election proposal for a peace convention was "neither a delaying tactic, nor a return to Stormont majoritarianism".
The purpose of the election was "to confirm the commitment of the participating parties to democratic procedures and to mandate their representatives in accordance with the principles of the Downing Street Declaration".
The new peace convention would address "the narrow agenda of the principle of consent and acceptance of the Mitchell principles on decommissioning."
"Without acceptance of these, it is difficult to see any basis for admitting Sinn Fein to substantive negotiations as in such circumstances the negotiations would offer no hope of a successful outcome."
Mr McCartney was commenting on his three hour meeting in Dublin at the weekend with the Taoiseach, Mr Bruton, the Attorney General, Mr Dermot Gleeson, and senior officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs. He described the talks as "open and unambiguous".
He is the first unionist to meets the Taoiseach since the Ulster Unionist Party leader, Mr David Trimble, travelled to Dublin for talks with Mr Bruton last autumn.
Mr McCartney told Mr Bruton that the unionists reluctance to enter negotiations "under the latent threat of the use of retained weapons" had been increased by the London Docklands bombing and the device left in the city's West End five days later.
He said he emphasised to the Taoiseach that "the unity of democrats, rather than the unity of Irish nationalists, is the only basis for a lasting settlement. Those unable or unwilling to accept and work within the universally recognised procedures for democratic government could not be hallowed to dictate the pace and direction of the search for a permanent peace".
He said later that his discussions were aimed at conveying the feelings "of the pro Union people of Northern Ireland".