Don’t assume UUP-SF deal will be acceptable: Ford

AN ALLIANCE delegation today met the Secretary of State to discuss the situation in the peace process – and warned it would be a mistake to assume that any UUP-Sinn Fein deal would be acceptable to all of society. The delegation consisted of Party Leader David Ford, Deputy Leader Eileen Bell, Chief Whip Kieran McCarthy and General Secretary Stephen Farry.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Ford said: “Efforts to restore the political process seem to be overly dependent upon the talks between David Trimble and Gerry Adams. It remains to be seen if a deal can in fact be reached. However, it would be a major mistake to assume that any understandings reached between them would necessarily be acceptable to the rest of society.

“It is clear that republicans are dragging their feet over accepting the terms of Paragraph 13 of the Joint Declaration and declaring an end to all paramilitary activity. The UUP seems to be concentrating upon issues such as decommissioning, Colombia, Castlereagh and Stormontgate, rather than activities such as paramilitary attacks and exiling directed against Catholics.

“Last October, Tony Blair made clear that the time for any transition had long since passed and that republicans had to make a clear choice between democracy and violence. No window should be left open for them to continue their activities on the streets.

“Similarly, the UUP and Sinn Fein seem to have a common agenda, albeit for different reasons of undermining the Human Rights Commission, one of the key institutions of the Agreement. If we are to resolve these issues properly and avoid a quick fix it must be resolved collectively and not left to a deal between the UUP and Sinn Fein.”

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