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Sunday, September 12, 1999 Published at 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK


UK: Northern Ireland

Unionist defends Good Friday review

Unionist thoughts on the review are split

A senior Ulster Unionist has come to the defence of his party's continued participation in the review of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement following a series of attacks from dissident colleagues.

The Search for Peace
Party security spokesman Ken Maginnis MP criticised the decision by the Ulster Unionist deputy leader John Taylor to withdraw from the review, which is being facilitated by former US senator George Mitchell.

Mr Maginnis said that Mr Taylor's stance did not reflect the attitude of the party's ruling executive.

"With no disrespect to my colleague, he is just one member of the Ulster Unionist executive," he said.

Consistency urged

"The executive is a 100-strong body, it is the governing body and it has displayed a degree of consistency."


[ image: Ken Maginnis:urges John Taylor to toe party line on peace process]
Ken Maginnis:urges John Taylor to toe party line on peace process
"I would like my colleague to display that in future," he added.

Mr Maginnis is the first senior unionist to come to the defence of party policy on the Good Friday Agreement.

His comments follow a number of attacks from leading party members who have expressed dissatisfaction with the direction of the peace process.

Anti-Agreement Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson said on Saturday that the party should distance itself from the Good Friday Agreement in the light of continuing IRA violence.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics programme, Mr Donaldson said that unionist confidence in the Agreement was at low ebb.

"There will come a point, and maybe that point is here, when the party has to say that to continue with the process is, in effect, to seriously damage unionism itself.

"That is something that the party executive will have to look at very seriously, particularly in the aftermath of the disastrous proposals contained in Patten's report on policing."

The Lagan Valley MP also said that the decision by the party's deputy leader John Taylor to withdraw from the review would be supported in families throughout Northern Ireland.

'Insult' to RUC reputation

Unionists were furious at the conclusions of the Patten report into the future of policing in Northern Ireland, especially the recommendation that the name of the Royal Ulster Constabulary should be changed.

This was regarded as an insult to the reputation of the force, which the Protestant community believes defended the community during many years of IRA violence.



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