Paisley decommissioning claims 'bizarre', says SF

 

The Democratic Unionist Party cannot be allowed to veto an agreement on power sharing in Northern Ireland, a senior Sinn Féin member said today.

Mr Gerry Kelly also said the Rev Ian Paisley's comments on decommissioning last night were "bizarre".

Ian Paisley: insisted on photographic evidence of IRA weapons destruction
Ian Paisley: insisted on photographic evidence of IRA weapons destruction

He accused Dr Paisley of trying to deal with the issue of decommissioning "exclusively on his terms and in a way which involves an unachievable process of humiliation".

Dr Paisley said last night that he has information that the IRA may be about to decommission - but without providing the DUP's demand of photographic verification.

But ahead of a meeting between the Taoiseach and British Prime Minister today, Dr Paisley made it clear that if the IRA decommissioned under the original terms of the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), it would be unacceptable to the DUP.

Speaking in Belfast today, Mr Kelly said: "We now have Ian Paisley saying that he does not want the IRA to deal with the issues of arms and activities conclusively.

"After years of claiming that the issue of arms was at the top of the agenda for unionism, Ian Paisley is now demanding, bizarrely, that the IRA do not deal with the issue of their weapons.

"The DUP cannot be allowed to veto an agreement which deals with all outstanding issues including those of concern to unionists. The DUP cannot be allowed to paralysis the process of change set out in the Good Friday Agreement," Mr Kelly said.

The DUP cannot be allowed to paralyse the process of change set out in the Good Friday Agreement.
Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein

The Taoiseach will meet Mr Tony Blair on the sidelines of the European Council meeting in Brussels today to discuss the stumbling block of the verification of IRA decommissioning.

Dr Paisley has insisted on extensive photographic evidence of IRA weapons' destruction - which he claims is needed to satisfy the unionist "man in the street". However, Sinn Féin and the IRA have branded the idea a non-starter and a humiliation too far.

Sinn Féin chairman Mr Mitchel McLaughlin said Mr Paisley was so intent on humiliating the IRA he was ready to throw away the chance of progress. He said the DUP leader giving the IRA an ultimatum not to deal conclusively with its weapons was "an absurd situation which would be laughable if it were not so serious".

Mr McLaughlin was careful not to comment on whether Mr Paisley's claims were correct. But he said the situation was now the "stuff of Alice in Wonderland".

He said: "It must appear to many, including surely some within his own party, that Ian Paisley's fixation on humiliating republicans now stands in the way of finding a resolution to the current problem."