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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 14:07 GMT
DUP's 'devolution vision'
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds launched the document
Northern Ireland could be governed by a voluntary coalition instead of having particular parties in power, according to the Democratic Unionist Party.

In a document published on Thursday, the party said power could also reside with the assembly rather than ministers - removing the need for cabinet power.

The paper - Vision For Devolution - sets out some of the DUP's ideas about how government could function in the future.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said that although the DUP was opposed to those who support terror exercising unaccountable executive power, this did not mean an administration could not be formed.

He said a problem only existed if the options were restricted to what he called "the narrow confines of the Belfast Agreement".

The party said the Agreement had clearly not provided for a stable form of devolution and that four suspensions "speaks for itself".

It said that in no other form of local, regional or national government, would the incidents of the last four years have led to a collapse in the institutions.

I think the DUP - and most of the public - see clearly that the DUP have been shifting their position - they certainly have given up all their old grandiose campaigns to smash Sinn Fein
Alex Maskey
Sinn Fein

The automatic placement of parties in government with no effective mechanism for their removal was a fundamental flaw, said the party.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said the DUP believed any viable form of devolution in Northern Ireland must be stable, accountable, effective and efficient.

One way to avoid the "flaw" in the Agreement was "an effective exclusion mechanism which would allow the institutions to continue after the misbehaviour of any particular party", he said.

'Failed policies'

However, Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey accused the DUP of "sending out mixed messages".

"First of all they talk about this Agreement being failed, yet they recognise that there has to be an agreement and they also recognise that nationalists have to be able to give their agreement to something else in the future," he said.

"I think the DUP - and most of the public - see clearly that the DUP have been shifting their position... they certainly have given up all their old grandiose campaigns to smash Sinn Fein. They have lost out on those policies - they are failed policies."

A united Ireland is further away than it has ever been - this is not unionist chest-beating, but a simple statement of fact
Michael McGimpsey
UUP

SDLP leader Mark Durkan warned the DUP that the Good Friday Agreement was "not up for grabs".

"The DUP could not have made it plainer today that they are out to wreck the Agreement with their half-baked proposals," he said.

"They say that they want a voluntary coalition, which would exclude other parties. That is out. What they really want is majority rule. That is out."

Also on the campaign trail on Thursday, Ulster Unionist Michael McGimpsey urged the SDLP and Sinn Fein to "forget about pipe-dreams and get on with making Northern Ireland work".

"It is not surprising in an election to see the main nationalist and republican parties beating their chests about a United Ireland but I think they need to be more honest with their supporters," he said.

"A united Ireland is further away than it has ever been. This is not unionist chest-beating, but a simple statement of fact. I want to send a clear message to both parties - there won't be a united Ireland, forget about it."





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