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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May, 2005, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Clinton 'still backing' Agreement
Former US President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton believes there is no alternative to the Agreement
There is no viable alternative to the Good Friday Agreement for peace in Northern Ireland, former US President Bill Clinton has said.

Speaking in Dublin, he said he did not agree with DUP leader Ian Paisley's view that "the deal was dead".

However, he said he thought that it was up to the IRA to make the next move.

"If they were to give up their arms and criminality, I think it would put a lot of pressure on Mr Paisley and others," he said.

Mr Clinton described the Good Friday Agreement as "fair, with majority rule, minority rights and self government".

"I hope it can still be revived," he said.

He said he hoped Mr Paisley's opinion of the Good Friday Agreement turned out to be incorrect.

"I hope he's wrong, because nobody has come up with any better alternative, and it's fair," he said.

'Devoid of democracy'

The former president made the comments while attending a gala dinner on Monday to raise money for a suicide prevention programme.

He said: "The public do not want to go back to the conflict.

Clinton cannot have his way to force IRA/Sinn Fein terrorists into the government of this part of the United Kingdom as I told him to his face when he was in Belfast
Ian Paisley
DUP leader

"They've sent us a loud and clear signal they want politicians to arrange things so they can go on with their lives."

However, Mr Paisley said the ex-president had an "unmitigated cheek".

"The unionist people of Northern Ireland have, in the last election, rejected the Belfast Agreement which in itself is devoid of democracy, and have made it clear that we must have a new beginning and that beginning must close and bar the gates of its government to terrorists of whatever side they come from," he said.

"Clinton cannot have his way to force IRA/Sinn Fein terrorists into the government of this part of the United Kingdom as I told him to his face when he was in Belfast."

Meanwhile, Mr Paisley has also attacked SDLP leader Mark Durkan as "an apologist for terrorism who has mixed with Sinn Fein for so long that he is blotched with fascism".

And he railed against what he called Dublin dictation in Northern Ireland affairs.

Mr Paisley insisted unionism was reawakened and reinvigorated.

A spokesman for the SDLP said he wondered why the DUP leader wanted to share power with the SDLP if this was his opinion of the leader.


SEE ALSO:
Bush offers NI process support
27 Nov 04 |  Northern Ireland
Clinton 'confident' of progress
26 Aug 04 |  Northern Ireland



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