Elections are the only way forward, says unionist


"THERE will be no return to Stormont," a prominent unionist assured the conference.

"There is an urgent need to involve the people of Northern Ireland in a people's peace process," said Mr Steven King, special adviser to the deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Mr John Taylor. "It can only be done on the basis of elections."

When the ceasefire was called on August 31st, 1994, Sinn Fein and the IRA tried to make people believe they had changed. "We must establish clearly in the future that Sinn Fein and the IRA are honourable in their political intentions."

The London bombs underlined the double standards of the republican movement. This type of blackmail was not acceptable in modern day Europe. "The elections would be a public demonstration that the past is behind us."

"We in the UUP wish to see full scale all party negotiations as soon as possible." He pointed out that the UUP endorsed the six principles outlined in the Mitchell report on arms decommissioning and accepted the report as a whole.

Speaking on the economic dividend of the peace process, the business consultant and former president of the GAA, Mr Peter Quinn, said the last 18 months had seen a massive resurgence of business confidence in the North.

"In August 1994, unemployment in Northern Ireland stood at over 101,000. In December 1995, it was just over 84,000," he said.

Seasonally adjusted, this represented an 11 per cent decline in the numbers out of work over that 15 month period.