McCrea challenges UUP to oppose SF role in negotiations

 

The DUP Mid Ulster representative, the Rev William McCrea, has challenged Ulster Unionist MPs opposed to their party taking part in negotiations with Sinn Fein to make their voices heard. Speaking on a motion which called for unionists to unite against the talks process, Mr McCrea said there had been wide spread reports of disquiet within the UUP at the policies of its leadership.

At least three MPs - Mr Willie Thompson, Mr Roy Beggs, and Mr Willie Ross - were said to be against the decision to sit down with republicans at Stormont, he stated.

"Well, where is Willie [Thompson] today? Can anyone hear his voice? What about Mr Beggs and Mr Ross? They are all quiet," Mr McCrea said. He urged the MPs to have the "courage of their convictions" and speak out if they were against the strategy of their leader, Mr David Trimble.

Mr McCrea accused the UUP of "ditching every principle they ever held" by entering the negotiations. "Just remember, Trimble, Taylor, Maginnis, and Empty [Reg Empey] are part of a talks process with the unrepentant murderers of our fellow countrymen and women."

Unfortunately, the republican claim that unionists were "running around like headless chickens" was true, he said. He accused the "defeated soldiers" in the UUP of surrendering in all but name and said the entire process was republican-driven.

"IRA/Sinn Fein, without handing over one bullet, have forced the mighty leadership of the Glen gall Street unionists to accept the Provos' conditions for talks." It was obvious that British government policy was to make "small and gradual" movements towards a united Ireland.

"Step by step, unionists are being conditioned to become accustomed to Irishness rather than Britishness to prepare them for the government's intended destination.

"Anything and everything British must be removed from the province's daily life - the national anthem, the Union Jack, the queen's portrait, Orange culture and unionist traditions become targets for extinction and demonisation. Wholesome unionist values taught by our forefathers for generations are rendered sectarian, right-wing, old-fashioned, hardline and backward."

Mr McCrea said the British government and republicans were using the media to make unionists feel their beliefs were "peculiar" and that they were "alone and out of step with the rest of Ulster society".

He claimed the media were promoting the fringe loyalists and those who "betray the Union", while marginalising the DUP and denying it a platform.

In a stinging attack on the Progressive Unionist Party, Mr McCrea said it had no right to call itself loyalist.

He alleged that other secret Department of Foreign Affairs documents leaked along with those on the President, Mrs McAleese, which had not been published because they would "rock the talks process to its foundations, concerned the PUP.

Mr McCrea promised delegates the DUP would never compromise: "Unlike others, we have not thrown in the towel. We stand determined to oppose any process that will weaken the Union. Long live Ulster."

On the conference debate on security, there were demands for tougher action against the IRA. "The unpalatable fact is that the IRA have not gone away but need to be put away," said the party's security spokesman, Mr Gregory Campbell.

He said Sinn Fein leaders had profited from violence. Gun and bomb attacks had been "door openers for Gerry and Martin. The DUP would not be moderating its stance, he warned.

"This party had the right security policy before the ceasefires, had the right policies during them, and when they end our policy will prove to have been the right one then also."

A resolution was passed calling on the British government to realise its "folly" in believing in the IRA's second ceasefire and demanding that the security forces be given sufficient resources to deal with any future IRA violence.

In the debate on parades, the DUP secretary, Mr Nigel Dodds, said that nationalist protests against Orange marches had increased dramatically in recent years.

This was due to Sinn Fein's orchestration, a talks process which heightened nationalist expectations and "weak and insipid government", he said.

He called for the "unique position of traditional parades" to be enshrined in Northern Ireland law and for the abolition of the Parades Commission which he claimed had an anti-unionist bias.