Belfast Telegraph

Dáil deal a UUP crime, says Robinson

By Noel McAdam
30 December 2004

The DUP today challenged Ulster Unionists to "come clean" on the controversy over speaking rights for Northern Ireland MPs in Dublin.

As the war of words between the rival parties continued, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said UUP negotiator Sir Reg Empey had stayed silent on the issue two years ago.

His attack came after Sir Reg accused the DUP of "acquiescence" to the proposal which he warned could lead to an "embryonic united Ireland".

And his senior party colleague Michael McGimpsey said concessions - including the potential release of the killers of Garda Gerry McCabe - had happened "on Ian Paisley's watch".

Mr Robinson said the plan referred to a committee of the Dail, which will meet twice a year and to which Northern Ireland MPs will be invited but have no voting rights.

He said when the proposal was first published in March 2002, Mr Empey and other UUP members never uttered a word "because the UUP was party to it.

"He needs to say why he did not warn the people of Northern Ireland about this constitutional crisis in 2002 when he and his party held the reins of unionism. Tell us Reg, why you only raise your voice now, two years later, and try to incriminate others for the crime the UUP committed?"

The East Belfast MP also said UU leader David Trimble had yet to respond to his challenge to release the full text of the aborted deal last year on policing.

"This issue will not go away. You better face the music," he said.

But Mr McGimpsey countered: "The concessions happened on Dr Paisley's watch and what is worse Dr Paisley has sat idly by and allowed these concessions.

"The DUP have been shown up as weak and cowardly negotiators. If they knew about the release of Jerry McCabe's killers, why did they not try to prevent it from happening?"

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