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Last Updated: Friday, 21 November, 2003, 17:14 GMT
SDLP 'will not renegotiate'
Seamus Mallon
Seamus Mallon said government could not run without a cabinet
The SDLP will not become involved in any renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement, its former deputy leader has said.

Seamus Mallon dismissed the "devolution vision" set out by the DUP in which the party said Northern Ireland could be governed by a voluntary coalition.

Speaking in Belfast on Friday, Mr Mallon said the DUP could only "deliver the Agreement's destruction".

"Their cleverer spokesmen now use the language of moderation. But their agenda is one of extremism.

"They may in recent weeks have dropped talk of smashing the Agreement, but their policies guarantee it," he said.

"They say that they want to have 'a system which ensured power resided with the assembly, rather than ministers, removing the need for any cabinet'.

"What does this mean? God alone knows. What will it cause? Chaos. You cannot run a government without a cabinet. And you cannot have an assembly overruling every single decision of a minister.

Time and time again the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the UUP have all been on message with their attacks on the DUP
Ian Paisley
DUP leader

"It doesn't happen in Dublin. It doesn't happen in London. It doesn't happen in any serious administration. And it won't happen here."

A voluntary coalition would mean an end to inclusive government, said the former deputy first minister.

"We were the ones that put inclusion into the Good Friday Agreement. And we will not be the nationalist party to take it out."

'Orchestrated'

Also on the campaign trail on Friday, DUP leader Ian Paisley said the Ulster Unionists and nationalists were now "tag team partners" in their campaign against his party.

"It is clear that the DUP has set the pace and set the agenda for the whole campaign.

"This has left the other parties to launch concerted and repeated attacks on the DUP, but far from damaging the DUP, these attacks have reinforced the message of why unionists should vote for the party," he said.

If republicans want to enter the democratic process...then they have to show they have crossed the threshold set by democrac
Robert Little
UUP

"Time and time again the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the UUP have all been on message with their attacks on the DUP.

"It is not quite clear whether these attacks are being orchestrated through Cunningham House or Connolly House - but it is no surprise to see nationalists urging transfers to the UUP."

He added: "The Ulster Unionists were in the pockets of Sinn Fein for the last five years and it is now clear that along with the SDLP they are fighting a joint campaign against the DUP in all but name."

'Integral part'

Ulster Unionist assembly candidate Robert Little said republican inclusion in the next Northern Ireland Executive would only be possible if republicans were prepared to fulfil the commitments required by democracy.

"If republicans want to enter the democratic process and be accepted by democratic parties then they have to show they have crossed the threshold set by democracy," he said.

Sinn Fein has been to the forefront in promoting the importance and safeguarding the position of the Irish language
Bairbre de Brun

"This requires the republican movement of which the IRA is an integral part saying in an unambiguous way, in words people can understand, that the war is over and physically demonstrating that through acts of decommissioning which are open, transparent, verifiable and set within an agreed, publicly known timetable."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Bairbre de Brun has said the party believed strongly in the need to protect and promote the Irish language.

"Our policy is aimed at creating a bilingual society at every level. Our objective is to allow the people to reclaim their language," she said.

"Sinn Fein has been to the forefront in promoting the importance and safeguarding the position of the Irish language and culture during the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement, and since, on an all-Ireland basis."





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