06/02/2004

DUP unveil 'corporate' NI Assembly proposals

The Democratic Unionist Party has unveiled short-term proposals to reconstitute the NI Assembly without ministers.

The hardline unionist party has revealed a plan that would appear to circumvent some of the many problems that face the British and Irish governments who are currently attempting to get a power-sharing Assembly back on course.

However, the Rev. Ian Paisley's party is insistent that there is no place for republicans in the executive tier of the devolved local government structure until the IRA is out of the picture.

This morning the DUP put forward proposals for a "corporate" form of assembly, one that would effectively involve all MLAs in the running the Northern Ireland executive. Decisions would then be made directly by the assembly proper or by nominated committees.

The Rev Ian Paisley said he hoped that the current talks would bring about an Agreement "based on democracy, a fair deal which is capable of getting the support of unionists, not just nationalists".

He added: "Sinn Fein-IRA face a choice between holding on to guns or participating in government."

Sinn Féin, however, condemned the proposals as an attempt to exclude nationalists and republicans from power.

Speaking yesterday following a presentation of the proposals to Prime Minister Tony Blair, Rev. Paisley said that meeting had been "profitable" and that the DUP had made "a good start from his party's point of view".

A review of the Good Friday Agreement arrangements began this week when all the main political parties met the Northern Ireland Secretary of State at Stormont on Tuesday.

(SP)

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