ALLIANCE Assembly member Seamus Close has said the Irish and British premiers have a chance this week to put right some of the mistakes they made when dealing with Sinn Fein in the past.
“Sinn Fein are like a parasitic ivy sucking the life out of the democratic tree it attaches itself to. When Tony Blair had the chance to cut back its criminal activity, he failed to ensure it stuck to democratic standards.
“Now he has another chance, and these could be historic days for this process. What the Taoiseach and Prime Minister say to Sinn Fein, and what the UPRG is offered by Downing Street, has the potential to shape politics here, north and south. Will Tony Blair accept the empty promises of Adams and McGuinness, who don’t even believe that murder is a crime? At which side of the table will Adams and Ahern agree the legitimate government of Ireland is sitting?
“Will they really stand up for democracy or crumble in the face of those whose self-defined ceasefires are mocked by their own actions on the ground? Their reputations depend on it.
“And when we see training schemes like WorkTrack and Learndirect stopped by the Government, what justification is there for the UDA to be given £70 million to start its own so-called scheme? Where is the fairness? Ministers have actually refused to discuss the closure of these schemes with some MLAs, yet two sets of apologists for terror have easy access to the highest offices on these islands.
“Experience of the political process shows that paramilitary groups only shift under pressure. A softly-softly approach now will not work, and this week we will find out if the rhetoric was all just for show.”