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Last Updated: Friday, 6 February, 2004, 22:41 GMT
DUP reveals Assembly plans
Ian Paisley
DUP's devolution plan is set out in a colour booklet
The Democratic Unionist Party has unveiled its blueprint containing proposals for the Stormont Assembly.

The party said the assembly could get up and running in the short term, before the outstanding questions of IRA arms and paramilitary activity are resolved.

However, Ian Paisley's party repeated its insistence that there could be no place for republicans in a power-sharing executive until the IRA went out of business.

The DUP unveiled its proposals in Belfast on Friday, a day after presenting them to Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street.

The political institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence-gathering in the Stormont government.

Earlier this week, parties elected to the assembly last November began a review of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement at Stormont.

The DUP is not the stumbling block to getting devolved government going in Northern Ireland
Nigel Dodds

The DUP proposed a Corporate Assembly in order to kick-start the democratic process.

This plan - similar to the way the Welsh Assembly ran early on - would involve all 108 assembly members becoming involved in running the Northern Ireland government.

The party said decisions could be made either on the floor of the assembly or by committee.

It said that non-controversial issues could even be decided by a simple majority, but other contentious matters would have to win the backing of a majority of both unionists and nationalists - or 70% of the assembly as a whole.

Launching the plan, Mr Paisley said the current negotiations must must bring about a new Agreement "based on democracy, a fair deal which is capable of getting the support of unionists, not just nationalists".

He added: "The days of terror and violence must come to an end and come to an end for good.

"Sinn Fein/IRA face a choice between holding on to guns or participating in government."

David Trimble
David Trimble: Stormont would come back with "continued paramilitarism"

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds of the DUP said the initiative showed his party had a positive agenda to offer.

"The DUP is not the stumbling block to getting devolved government going in Northern Ireland," he said.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy described the DUP proposals as "very constructive" and said they could form a basis for further discussions.

"There are some very interesting ideas in there. It could mean that devolution could be restored," he told BBC Radio 4.

However, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said the DUP proposals would allow Stormont to come back without the underlying problem being resolved - continued paramilitarism.

He said: "I don't think that those who voted for the DUP voted for that".

Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy said the DUP's proposals sounded like a return to majority rule.

He said they were not in line with the Good Friday Agreement and would not be supported by nationalists.

Four suspensions

The SDLP's Alex Attwood said the DUP's model sounded like the assembly of 1982, which had not worked.

He said the party was deluding itself if it thought "baby steps" could take the place of the "giant steps" that were needed in Northern Ireland.

The SDLP and Sinn Fein say the Agreement cannot be renegotiated and that the review should be short.

The Ulster Unionists say it should deal with the problem which led to suspension in the first place - paramilitary violence - while the DUP want a wholesale renegotiation.

When the 1998 Agreement was signed it contained a commitment that a conference should be held four years later to review and report on its operation.

But Stormont has been suspended four times and replaced with direct rule for the past 14 months.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Ita Dungan:
"With all the parties returning to Stormont on Monday it appears the haggling has just begun"



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