Belfast Telegraph

Robinson launches broadside at 'deceitful' UUP

By Chris Thornton
02 December 2004

The DUP blamed the Ulster Unionists today for paving the way to the release of four IRA garda killers - insisting it was not part of any deal they are involved in putting together.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson hit out after the UUP taunted his party over their promises that they would stop concessions in the peace process.

The row broke out as the efforts to reach a deal for reviving Stormont hit a rough patch.

Yesterday Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dail that his government would release the killers of Garda Jerry McCabe if the IRA disposed of all its weapons and issues "instructions to volunteers" about the IRA's future. The Garda Representative Association condemned the move.

After the announcement, UUP Assembly member Sir Reg Empey said the DUP had to explain their position on the release.

"The DUP gave an assurance to the people of Northern Ireland that the concessions had come to an end," he said.

"The DUP told people in their manifesto that they didn't want amnesties for terrorists.

"They have the opportunity to categorically state this is not part of any deal that they have negotiated or are part of. Do they support this decision and when did they know it was part of the deal?"

But Mr Robinson said the release of the McCabe killers - including Strabane man Pearse McAuley - was conceded last October during the build-up to the deal rejected by David Trimble.

He said the release "is part of last autumn's secret deal involving the UUP and Sinn Fein/IRA".

"As early as May we utterly condemned this decision. We will not be held responsible for the results of a weak and deceitful Ulster Unionist Party," Mr Robinson said.

The DUP deputy leader also attacked the Government for preparing to proceed with military cuts if the deal is completed.

He said the "key priority" for the Government and PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde "is not to placate the political needs of Sinn Fein but to protect the people of Northern Ireland".

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