Thursday, January 06, 2005

DUP ‘in no hurry to achieve a deal’

Tom Griffin on the DUP:

A leading DUP MP told members of a right-wing fringe group at Westminster that his party was "in no hurry to achieve a deal," on the day that the British and Irish Governments issued their proposals to resolve the deadlock in the peace process, according to an account issued by the group.

The January 2005 newsletter of the London Swinton Circle, reports on an address delivered by North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds on 17 November, the same day that the DUP and Sinn Fein received details of the two Governments’ blueprint for a way forward.

"Circle meetings are covered by Chatham House rules and thus we operate restricted reporting, but we are able to sum up the key points," the newsletter account reads.

"It was a well attended meeting and Nigel Dodds created an extremely favourable impression on all who attended with his candour and honesty.

"He said: The DUP were in no hurry to achieve a deal and would not be cowed by the deadlines set by HMG [Her Majesty’s Government]. The DUP would only reach a deal if it could be certain it would bring lasting and real peace to Ulster. This meant decommissioning of all terrorist weapons positive proof that this was happening, such as documented proof of photographs, video footage, inventories, witnesses present at the decommissioning, etc."

"The reform of the Ulster assembly was an essential part of any deal. Previously the Assembly functioned, with each executive member operating autonomously and not held accountable for his actions by either the assembly or the First Minister. (For instance – Martin McGuinness was able, as Education Minister, to abolish 11+ exams throughout Northern Ireland, despite the Assembly having voted decisively to retain them.)"

"The DUP have no representation in the House of Lords. Yet there are eight or nine UUP peers, most of whom with the Honourable exception of Lord Molyneaux are 'Liberal' Unionists. We must continue to urge strongly for this inequality in representation to be changed."

"The DUP was aiming to successfully win all the remaining UUP seats in the General Election next year. A particular target is the unseating of Ms Sylvia Hermon, MP for North Down. She will now be opposed by the Alliance Party, who did not contest the seat at the general election of 2001. The DUP expect Sinn Fein to make further inroads into the SDLP share of the vote and thus even possibly threaten their four [sic] Westminster seats. Recently, the SDLP have taken an even harder line than Sinn Fein and have called for any new agreement to be 'imposed on unionists."

Commenting on the meeting, the author of the newsletter writes "Some of us are convinced that unionism and Irish republicanism cannot be reconciled. Gradual but total integration into the UK is thus the way forward for Ulster."

The Swinton Circle is a right-wing Conservative group dedicated to the policies of the late Enoch Powell. The January newsletter calls for a "a more robust foreign policy as well as a return to Britain’s Imperial past, which is also our future – outside of the European Union."

The group caused controversy in 2001 when it emerged one of is active members, Bill Binding, the former deputy leader of the British Klu Klux Klan, had joined the Conservative Party.

The then Conservative leader Ian Duncan Smith came under pressure to bring in a ban on Conservative links with the Swinton Circle, similar to one he had recently introduced against another hard-right group, the Monday Club.

Basingstoke MP Andrew Hunter was forced to resign as Deputy Chairman of the latter group. Mr Hunter subsequently resigned from the Conservative Party and announced last month that he will formally take the DUP whip at Westminster.


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