16/06/2003

SF hit out at UUC meeting

Leading Sinn Fein member, Martin McGuinness has claimed tonight's sitting of the 900-strong Ulster Unionist ruling council is an attempt by the party to renegotiate the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

The Mid-Ulster MP claimed the meeting was not about building "partnership and inclusivity" but about "tactics to be employed by unionists to prevent change".

The meeting was called after Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson criticised the party leadership, including leader David Trimble, over proposals linked to the recent British-Irish Joint Declaration.

Mr McGuinness said: "Whatever the result of the UUC meeting tonight, unionism has to come to terms with the reality that there will be no renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement.

"The GFA is about people's basic rights and entitlements. About human rights and equality – these rights are non negotiable. They cannot be subject to a unionist veto.

"Unionist political leaders have to realise that the days of second class citizenship are over."

Tonight's meeting was called for by Jeffrey Donaldson after it was claimed that the future of the Royal Irish Regiment was linked to the recent Joint Declaration.

Mr Trimble says he has not endorsed the Declaration because it depended on acts of completion by republicans.

However, Mr Donaldson has rejected this claim and said that if the motion does not go his way he will resign for the party.

If he wins, many believe David Trimble will face an attempt to table a vote of no confidence.

(MB)

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