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21 September 2006 Edition

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Time to put it up to Paisley

The most recent session of the Hain Assembly has highlighted once again the political charade that it represents. The issues discussed there - policing, rates and the economy - have not been advanced one iota by their latest airing in this powerless talking shop.

The vitally important issue of an acceptable and accountable policing service will only be resolved by the British Government honouring its public commitments on the transfer of powers and by the DUP entering fully functioning, power-sharing political institutions. Both governments and all political parties know this.

Ian Paisley's most recent public rejection of power-sharing and participation in the political institutions before the November deadline must be a wake-up call to both governments.

Paisley's outburst in Downing Street displays an attitude that anticipates no political consequences for his behaviour. Similarly Peter Robinson, writing in the Sunday Life, seems to regard the November deadline as flexible. All this indicates that the DUP are still not fully motivated to reach a political accommodation.

It is for this reason that the Irish and British Governments need to spell out for the DUP, in clear terms, the alternative. It needs to be demonstrated that the November deadline is final and that their failure to reach a deal will not stop political progress.

The two governments have said that they will continue to implement the Good Friday Agreement and strengthen its all-Ireland aspects. This needs to be outlined in more detail and with greater clarity and determination.

It is time to put it up to Ian Paisley, to focus other minds in the DUP and to inject a sense of urgency within political unionism.

All parties bar the DUP want to enter a power-sharing Executive in order to tackle the pressing social and economic issues facing people in the North.

Ian Paisley has built his political career on forever saying "No" and frustrating all attempts at political progress, reconciliation between people of various traditions and the building of a just and peaceful society. His most recent comments therefore are nothing new.

What is unacceptable however is the manner in which Paisley's intransigence has been encouraged by the two governments, allowing the political process to drift for so long.

It is time for the governments to impose some direction on events and make clear to Paisley that they will not brook any stalling or obstruction, and that they will stand resolutely by the Good Friday Agreement.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1