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Wednesday, April 15, 1998 Published at 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK

Peace deal branded a 'sell-out'
image: [ Paisley: deal 'poses far greater dangers than Sunningdale' ]
Paisley: deal 'poses far greater dangers than Sunningdale'

The Democratic Unionists have launched their campaign to scrap the Northern Ireland peace deal, describing it as a betrayal of the union.

Speaking at the launch of the DUP's 'no' campaign for the upcoming referendum, the party's leader, The Rev Ian Paisley, called on all ordinary unionists to join the struggle for the "very lifeblood of the union."

He said the blueprint was more treacherous than anything that had come before.

Rev Paisley: only a no vote will safeguard the union
He attacked David Trimble and Reg Empey of the Ulster Unionist Party, saying they had negotiated away the province's legal ties to the rest of the UK and given Dublin power to start uniting Ireland.

Rev Paisley's party will now begin campaigning in the province's six counties to crush the Good Friday settlement when it is put to the ballot box on May 22.

"A yes vote is a negative vote to dismantle the union. A no vote is a positive vote to safeguard the union," he said.

"The deal put together by David Trimble, Gerry Adams and the rest of the talks participants is worse than the Anglo-Irish Agreement, more treacherous than the Framework Document and poses far greater dangers than the Sunningdale Agreement ever did."

'No constitutional balance'

[ image: Trimble: accused of selling out to Dublin]
Trimble: accused of selling out to Dublin
Rev Paisley criticised every aspect of the deal but focused on the plans for cross-border bodies and proposals to release paramilitary prisoners.

"The Government of Ireland Act, the bedrock upon which our land is founded, is abolished," he said.

"In return for the total abolition of this legal claim, Dublin's illegal claim (in its constitution) is merely to be amended.

"There is no constitutional balance."

Rev Paisley says ordinary unionists are outraged
Rev Paisley described the plans to release paramilitary prisoners as "despicable", adding that the Royal Ulster Constabulary was "going to be put on the altar and sacrificed to keep the IRA happy".

"This is a complete and total sell-out of the province," he said.

"The reaction of ordinary Unionists is outrage and amazement. This is a struggle for the very lifeblood of the union and the future of the province.

"I invite all unionists who believe in the union and believe that this should have the same standing as any other part of the UK, to join with use in our struggle for our inheritance."

Referendum Campaign

Rev Paisley says ordinary unionists are outraged
Rev Paisley will be leading the no campaign in the unionist camp in the run up to the May 22 vote.

His party walked out of the peace talks when Sinn Fein were allowed to join because of the IRA ceasefire.

The party is taking out newspaper adverts which will claim the deal will lead to the end of the province.

But, more crucially, the DUP will be battling with the UUP for the votes of the 30,000 strong Protestant Orange Order, one of the province's most influential groups.

Rev Paisley will also personally target the Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam. He has already accused her of approving funding for a biased referendum campaign.

Tension is likely to rise in the coming weeks in the province. While the DUP, backed by the UK Unionists Party, gets its 'no' campaign underway, Sinn Fein will face a tough time at its conference in Dublin.

Its leadership will face claims from some republicans that the deal is a sell-out of the party's traditional aims.

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