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'No SF in executive until IRA is gone'

(William Graham, Irish News)

The DUP has set down what looks like its bottom line for the forthcoming review negotiations – and that is "the end of the IRA" as a condition for Sinn Féin's entry to any executive.

This position was outlined yesterday by Democratic Unionist East Derry MP Gregory Campbell at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In a significant speech he suggested that the talks process, due to begin in the next few weeks, had the potential to finally resolve the problems Northern Ireland has faced for the past 30 years.

Mr Campbell said November's elections may have dealt a devastating blow to the Belfast Agreement but he believed that they would bring the long-term solution closer.

He said that within unionism it had been a defining election which would bring clarity and certainty to the process.

"For the past five years Sinn Féin have not known how much they needed to do to get into government. This has encouraged them to do as little as possible. Ultimately this was fatal to the process," Mr Campbell said.

"The time has come for the IRA to decide whether it is to be peace or violence – they cannot have both.

"Until they resolve that dilemma one way or another we cannot allow the process to be held to ranson. We must seek to get a form of devolution up and running which has the ability to function and deliver for the people of Northern Ireland."

He said there was an opportunity for progress in Northern Ireland and for a new executive to be formed but it could only include Sinn Féin when republicans conformed to the same democratic principles other parties adhered to.

"Let me make it quite clear. Let there be no room for ambiguity on this issue. We are not in the business of negotiating for movement from the IRA," Mr Campbell said.

"We will only accept the end of the IRA as a condition to Sinn Féin's entry to any executive. This is not simply a demand of the DUP or unionists in Northern Ireland. It is a de-mand of the British and Irish governments."

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuin-ness, who also addressed the forum, said the British government could not allow an anti-agreement minority to override the wishes of the majority of people in Ireland.

He said the British government should immediately lift its unilateral suspension of the political institutions and proceed with the agenda of change which it committed itself to more than five years ago in the Good Friday Agreement.

January 24, 2004

This article appeared first in the January 23, 2004 edition of the Irish News.

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