Hard-line Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson today repeated his call for his party to reject the British and Irish governments’ joint declaration.
Rejecting an attempted compromise by party leader David Trimble ahead of Monday’s ruling council meeting, Mr Donaldson said Ulster Unionists must send a clear signal to Downing Street that they would not accept the document.
He said: “What we are looking for is unequivocal rejection of the joint declaration. I believe that it gives Dublin a role in the internal affairs of the assembly for the first time.
“There is a proposal to grant an amnesty for on-the-runs and a proposal to leave Tyrone, Armagh and Fermanagh bereft of any security presence.“
Speaking after a meeting of the parties’ 110-strong executives, Mr Donaldson said that Mr Trimble’s amendment, which fell short of rejecting the joint declaration, did not go far enough.
With the chances of a last-minute comprise disappearing, the pair seem set for a show-down when the 860 members of the ruling council meet to decide party policy.
Mr Donaldson added: “I will be urging rejection. The leaders’ proposal does not urge rejection. It says nothing on Dublin interference so clearly it is not acceptable.”
The Lagan Valley MP has threatened to consider his position within the party if his motion of rejection is not passed.
Earlier this week he sent out a four page analysis of the declaration, urging members to reject it.
In a letter sent along with his amendment, Mr Trimble accused his opponents of disrupting plans to reach a consensus on Monday.
He said: “I do think it a pity that we could not continue to work things out quietly within the party and that our supporters have been faced yet again with the unseemly sight of the party tearing itself apart.”
Mr Trimble said that the row was shifting the focus of putting pressure on republicans to get rid of their illegal weapons.
This Monday’s meeting will be the 10th time in five years that Mr Trimble has had to defend his policy of sharing power with Sinn Fein.
In the previous nine meetings he has managed to face down his critics within the party.