Naomi Long MP said: “On Tuesday, Peter Robinson said the Haass proposals needed work, but appeared to give them a qualified welcome; however, in the House of Commons one day later, in response to a statement by the Secretary of State, Sammy Wilson and Ian Paisley indicated that the DUP had given the proposals an unqualified rejection. The DUP must now make clear which is the case and who is speaking for their party.
“If their position is as represented by their MPs in Westminster, it raises serious questions over the purpose of the working group being established by OFMdFM. Far from wanting to close the gaps that currently exist between the parties, it appears from their comments that the DUP have already set their face against even the broad architecture of the proposals, suggesting they may be seeking a full renegotiation which is unsustainable and not what Peter Robinson was indicating.
“Following Ian Paisley’s dismissal of arrangements for the proposed Historical Investigations Unit as ‘fanciful’, it would appear that major elements of the paper which enjoyed a large degree of consensus in the talks are now being unpicked, as opposed to them seeking to refine proposals or close gaps that existed at the end of the talks. If that is the DUP position, it puts an entirely new slant on the proposed working group.
“Alliance is willing to play a constructive role in a process to build on the progress made, take decisions and deliver outcomes; however, we will not allow process to be used to avoid tough decisions, maintaining an illusion of activity with no delivery and no improvement for the community.
“The views expressed in Parliament raise serious questions about the DUP’s intentions for this process going forward which need to be answered urgently.”
Comments by Sammy Wilson and Ian Paisley Jr in the House of Commons on Wednesday during a statement by the Secretary of State on the Haass talks.
Given the wide range of opinions and the deeply held views that were discussed in the Haass talks, does not the Secretary of State agree that no deal was better than a deal that would have exacerbated the divisions in Northern Ireland? While, as politicians and as a society, we have to continue to work at the issues, does she not agree that the best way of undermining those who want to wreck Northern Ireland is to change our education system, get young people into jobs and have a robust economy, rather than implement quick-fix solutions that simply involve more quangos and legislation
Ian Paisley Jr
I believe that my party was right to say no to the final text, and it will remain right to say no until it gets to a point when it is able to say yes to something that we can recommend to our community. I believe that we did the right thing, and we will continue to do the right thing when it comes to saying no at the right time and saying yes when it is appropriate to do so.
The Secretary of State said that it was disappointing that it had not proved possible to reach an agreement on an historical investigations unit to take the place of the HET. Why would she try to fund such a unit, with its panoply of lawyers and additional experts, when there is a shortfall of £60 million, starting in 2015, for the current arrangement, which is the cheaper option, and when there is an additional shortfall of £36 million for security? Will she commit now to finding the money to allow the police to function for the next five years, rather than pursuing this fanciful idea of an historical investigations unit?