The Reverend Ian Paisley today urged anti-Agreement Ulster Unionist MPs to break their silence or risk being regarded as supporters of David Trimble.
The DUP leader called on William Ross, Jeffrey Donaldson, William Thompson and The Reverend Martin Smyth to clarify their position after they were absent from the UUP manifesto launch.
‘‘The other four candidates who didn’t turn up have been strangely silent at the moment on this issue,’’ Mr Paisley said.
‘‘They must now speak and they must now either identify themselves with the position that they say they are maintaining or they will be counted as having gone over to the side of Mr Trimble.’’
On the third anniversary of the referendum to ratify the Good Friday Agreement, the DUP leadership declared that efforts to ‘‘fool’’ the public would not work again.
East Belfast MP Peter Robinson insisted that a visit to the Province this week by Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President Bill Clinton would be futile.
He added: ‘‘You can be certain that the church leaders and business leaders will come out and give support to the Agreement. They have learnt nothing new.’’
Mr Robinson also launched a fresh attack on the UUP for striking a deal with the Alliance Party in a bid to bolster Lady Sylvia Hermon’s chances of taking the North Down seat.
‘‘The Ulster Unionists have moved away from being a unionist party,’’ he said.
‘‘They are trying to be possessors of that centre ground where there are neither fish nor fowl.’’
But as the DUP prepare for the electoral battle ahead, Mr Paisley struck one last defiant note.
He declared ‘‘We are moving forward to the final struggle, the crossing of the Boyne has come.’’