Rally by DUP to expose 'sham' of talks
The Democratic Unionist Party will tonight hold the first in a series of rallies it has organised across the North. Tonight's rally will take place in an Orange hall in Lisburn, Co Antrim.
The crowd will be addressed by the party's leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, and his deputy, Mr Peter Robinson. A DUP spokesman said it was the start of the campaign to inform the public about the likely outcome of the Stormont talks and the question which would be proposed in the ensuing referendum.
"The current peace talks have been exposed as a sham by the explosions in Moira and Portadown and the murders that have taken place in recent days," he said.
"While Bill Clinton wines and dines apologists of terrorism and lectures unionists who attended the St Patrick's Day events in Washington, only a few weeks ago he was unwilling to meet with Saddam Hussein and negotiate peace in the Middle East. Rather, he was spoiling for war to deflect attention from his own problems at home."
Meanwhile, the SDLP has called on all parties to work intensely over coming weeks to reach a settlement which would accommodate all sections of the community. "Parties have to move from agitation to negotiation, from easy demands to hard decisions," the party's chairman, Mr Mark Durkan, said yesterday.
Urging all participants at the talks, which resume in Belfast on Monday, to act, he said: "This involves addressing all three sets of relationships in a way which respects the legitimate aspirations of all sections of our community.
"North-South bodies will be an essential part of any new deal and they must have a proper executive capacity to act effectively on behalf of all on this island in areas of common interest."
He said new thinking was needed on all sides if the talks were to agree structures which respected the legitimate aspirations of both nationalists and unionists. "These will be based on the three key sets of relationships which must be reconciled. Unlike other parties, the SDLP is putting no limits or curbs on what might be agreed and developed in any of the strands. I would now ask other parties to approach the negotiations on a similar basis."
He said the talks would intensify and that all parties should concentrate on reaching a balanced agreement. "It will no longer be good enough for people to negotiate on an occasional basis, opting in and out of the talks as they go about other business."