Anti-Good Friday Agreement Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson’s six-point plan for party unity and decommissioning was tonight endorsed by a prominent pro-Agreement member of the UUP.
Ulster Unionist vice chairman James Cooper claimed the plan which backs devolution but calls for the expulsion of Sinn Fein ministers from office if there is no IRA disarmament by the end of the decommissioning body’s mandate in June was ‘‘constructive’’.
Mr Donaldson told a meeting of the anti-Agreement pressure group Union First in Templepatrick last night (Monday) the UUP should reaffirm its belief that the Union provides the best future for all the people of Northern Ireland, based firmly upon the principle of consent.
‘‘We welcome the establishment of a local Assembly and want to see the provision of good government in Northern Ireland.
‘‘We remain committed to the requirement for the total decommissioning of illegal terrorist weapons and an end to all forms of paramilitary violence.
‘‘We believe that Sinn Fein/IRA should be excluded from ministerial office if they fail to decommission their illegal weaponry in line with the requirements of the de Chastelain Commission by the June deadline.’’
The Lagan Valley MP also said unionists should reaffirm their support for the Royal Ulster Constabulary and oppose attempts to reduce police numbers and scale down security.
They should also deplore the amnesty granted to paramilitaries on the run.
The UUP vice chairman and candidate for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat, at the General Election James Cooper welcomed ‘‘Mr Donaldson’s constructive approach on this issue’’.
But in a reference to other MPs he said: ‘‘Sadly, others have not been helpful in their comments. I would ask all colleagues at this stage to refrain from making negative comments in the press.
‘‘Our party has very clear objectives upon which there is a clear consensus.’’
Mr Cooper noted the parties were approaching the anniversary of last year’s IRA statement in which the group committed itself to putting its weapons completely and verifiably beyond use.
‘‘The Ulster Unionist Party is determined to hold Sinn Fein/IRA to account on their failure to honour their own promises,’’ he said.
However Sinn Fein vice president Pat Doherty responded tonight that Mr Donaldson was promoting ‘‘another failed attempt to renegotiate the Good Friday Agreement’’.
‘‘The people of the island of Ireland did not vote in referenda to endorse Jeffrey Donaldson’s six point plan. They voted in overwhelming numbers to endorse the Good Friday Agreement.
‘‘It would serve the UUP better if they would end their unlawful actions in preventing Sinn Fein ministers taking their place on the All-Ireland Ministerial Council and begin to honour the commitment they made on Good Friday rather than continually attempting to undermine the Agreement.’’