Sunday Business Post

DUP no to SF powershare even if IRA stands down

05/09/04 00:00
By Paul T Colgan

The DUP will not go into government with Sinn Fein following this month's talks even if the IRA were to stand down immediately, according to a senior member of its negotiating team.

Jeffrey Donaldson told The Sunday Business Post that the DUP is demanding a cooling off period between acts of IRA decommissioning and the restoration of a power-sharing executive and a more ``transparent'' and rigorous verification process.

``Let me be absolutely clear on this, we are not talking about going into a power-sharing executive with ministers from Sinn Fein in the absence of completion on decommissioning and the disbandment of the IRA. That's the bottom line,'' said Donaldson.

He said the DUP would be making ``its own judgments'' as to whether the IRA had disbanded and that any interim political arrangement would have limited powers.

A period of time would need to elapse, Donaldson said, for the party to consider reports on ``residual paramilitary activity'' by the International Monitoring Commission and those of arms inspector General John De Chastelain.

The DUP will propose a ``corporate assembly'' when it meets with the two governments at Leeds Castle in Kent, England, for three days from September 17.

It is thought that such a model would see the return of the Northern Assembly but not the power-sharing executive.

However, Donaldson said his party would not use further splits within the IRA over disbandment or decommissioning as an excuse to collapse a new power-sharing deal with Sinn Fein in the future.

``Yes, there may well be opposition [within the IRA] but what is clear is that the Provisional IRA as a terrorist organisation must be disbanded,'' he said.

``If there are those presently in that organisation who defect to other dissident groups, as has been the case with the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, it is a matter for the security forces on both sides of the border to deal with."

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