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4 January 2007 Edition

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The Mitchel McLaughlin Column

Paisley must confront his demons

As the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle met in Dublin to consider a momentous move on policing by republicans the DUP rejectionist wing went into full flight. The meeting had not even begun, Gerry Adams had not even presented the detail of the negotiations or his proposal to the gathered Party leadership when DUP MEP Jim Allister and fellow ‘No’ man Maurice Morrow joined by other DUP spokespersons were dismissing out of hand any initiative that would come out of the republican deliberations.

They didn’t even have the good grace to await the outcome of the Ard Chomhairle discussions before declaring their opposition to any conclusion that might be presented.

It is obvious that the strands of unionism represented by these individuals are frightened at the prospect of republicans becoming involved in policing. Such a political development will rightly be regarded a hugely significant development but it is also clearly understood by some within unionism as a threat to their arrogant belief that policing is solely the domain of unionism. A belief that unionism does the policing and republicans are policed.

It is time that the two governments disavowed them of this notion. The ‘No’ men and women need to be told in no uncertain terms that their day is gone. If there is to be a new beginning to policing and politics then every section of society will be part of it. Nobody will be excluded and no political party will have the power to adjudicate the worthiness of another party to hold office. The only arbiter of the fitness to hold office shall be the electorate.

Remember the phrase, ‘the train is leaving and those not on board will be left behind’. It is about time that that maxim is applied to those in the extremes of unionism who are hell-bent on preventing progress.

Republicans have acknowledged the part we played in the dark conflict from which we are emerging. We accept that republicans have inflicted hurt on the unionist people, but we will not be lectured by Unionists who refuse to recognise the hurt and misery that nationalists endured throughout the existence of the Northern State at the hands of the unionist establishment and its RUC/B-Specials/UDR/RIR militias not to mention their surrogates in the unionist death squads.

Sinn Féin through its democratic structures will decide if we have reached the threshold through which to move into policing. No other party will dictate the terms or the timing for us. Whatever decision is reached at a special Ard Fheis will be taken on the basis of whether or not we have reached that threshold.

We are facing up to our responsibilities, it is now up to Ian Paisley to confront the demons in the DUP who refuse to progress, show leadership and move on with the rest of us in the spirit of equality.



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