DUP says it will not be 'bullied' into settlement

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said yesterday his party was willing to share power in the North but that it would not be bullied…

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said yesterday his party was willing to share power in the North but that it would not be bullied by the Irish and British governments into reaching a settlement.

However, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, later reiterated that the November 24th deadline for a settlement would not be altered.

Mr Robinson told the British- Irish Inter Parliamentary Body in Killarney that the DUP would have to be satisfied republicans had ended paramilitary activity and criminality.

Once that had happened, there would be a consultation process with the unionist community, but it would only last a matter of weeks.


"We have emphasised that an Executive involving Sinn Féin is not possible unless the IRA has ended all its paramilitary and criminal activity and people are satisfied this is permanent and not tactical." Mr Robinson said the ability to bring forward the date of full devolution was in the hands of republicans. They knew what they had to do.

"We will take as long as necessary, and no longer, to be sure that the republican campaign is over. After over 30 years of terror, we want to be sure that what we have is a real and enduring peace," he said.

Mr Robinson said he hoped the latest report from the IMC due this week would report more progress on the ending of paramilitary activity, but he criticised the Irish and British governments for leaks which, he claimed, were an attempt to manipulate the response to the report.

He accepted it would be impossible to stop individuals engaging in criminal activity but he added that was not the real litmus test.

"What we cannot accept is that any party which is in government should be inextricably linked to those who are sanctioning, organising, tolerating or benefiting from such criminality."

Mr Robinson added: "Unionists want a stable, peaceful and democratic future. We want to co-exist in Northern Ireland with those who share our homeland, even those who hold a different and conflicting political ideal.

"We want to have a co-operative and harmonious interaction with our southern neighbours and we want to develop better relationships North/South and east/west. But let me be clear: none of the arrangements or structures to facilitate these ideals can be imposed or forced upon us."

Later Mr Ahern said that in three weeks' time the Assembly would meet again for the first time since October 2002.

"We have now reached a point in the process where the parties must take difficult decisions. The deadline of November 24th is very real. In putting forward our plan we are exercising our responsibilities as governments to give direction and leadership," he said.