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30 October 1997 Edition

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Unionists walk out again

By Peadar Whelan

For the second time in two weeks members of the Ulster Unionist Party walked out of the Stormont talks. Yet again the issue was Articles Two and Three of the 26 Counties Constitution.

The Dublin government and its allies were ``pitching their expectations too high'' maintained UUP deputy leader John Taylor. In response David Andrews, Dublin's Foreign Affairs minister, pointed out that ``the Articles were part of the negotiations''.

That the Stormont negotiations are meant to be all inclusive is a point constantly lost on the unionists.

Meanwhile in its submission to Strands One and Two of the talks Sinn Fein called for new political arrangements that would ``serve the broad objectives of removing the causes of conflict''.

Sinn Fein proposed that these new arrangements should occur in the context of a unitary state with a central government, but should involve the maximum decentralisation of government structures in the interest of maximisimg local democracy.

And in an interesting intervention ex-President of South Africa, FW De Klerk, speaking on RTE radio, said, ``I think the most important one is that you can only succeed with negotiations if the main role players acknowledge that there is a necessity for negotiation''.

Welcoming the comments Sinn Fein chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said he felt the remarks were ``particularly appropriate for the leaders of the unionist parties. The changes identified by Mr De Klerk that lead to negotiations are the acceptance by the main protagonists of the necessity for negotiations, personal contact, private and public, between negotiators and a change in mindset on all sides. These guidelines are of course common sense''.
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