Unionists 'will not throw SF a lifeline'

Unionists are not going to throw Sinn Féin a lifeline in the current stand-off over support for policing, a senior MP in the Rev Ian Paisley’s party claimed today.

Unionists are not going to throw Sinn Féin a lifeline in the current stand-off over support for policing, a senior MP in the Rev Ian Paisley’s party claimed today.

As Sinn Féin’s 56-member Executive gathered in Dublin to review their plan for a special party conference this month to consider whether or not they should support the police in Northern Ireland, Democratic Unionist MP the Rev William McCrea said republicans needed to deliver.

“The DUP will not hold out any lifeline or lifeboat to help Gerry Adams out of the sinking boat in the stormy waters that he now finds himself in,” the South Antrim MP said.

“If they are looking to us to give them comfort on the issue of devolved government by March 26 and the devolution of policing and justice in 2008, they are whistling in the wind.

“As far as unionism is concerned words are not enough.

“There has to be action. There has to be delivery – not words, they are not plausible.”

On December 29 last year Sinn Féin’s national executive took the potentially historic step of announcing a special conference this month which can see republicans for the first time in their history endorsing the police on both sides of the Irish border.

However, the party leadership said that move was predicated on a positive response from the DUP to the move.

The staging of the conference was cast in doubt when last week Sinn Féin said it was still awaiting a positive response from Mr Paisley.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to resolve the situation by setting out his view of what was required from Sinn Féin and the DUP if the issues of policing and power sharing were to be resolved this year under the St Andrews Agreement forged last October.

On the eve of today’s crucial meeting to decide if Sinn Féin should press ahead with its plans for the conference, Mr Adams issued a form of words which he claimed had been agreed with the DUP before December 29 and which he claimed should have been used in a New Year statement issued by Mr Paisley.

The Sinn Féin leader accused his DUP counterpart of reneging on a commitment to use the words but Mr Paisley and his party insisted that any words they have said in public reflected what had been said in private negotiations.

Mr McCrea said there needed to be a credible testing period if Sinn Féin honoured its commitments.

He also said: “They have got to also hand back all their ill gotten gains, dismantle IRA structures, hand over those responsible for the murder of Robert McCartney and also identify the whereabouts of the remaining disappeared.

“It is over to them to deliver. We do not want to listen to verbage or garbage any more.”

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