Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 15:10 UK

DUP rejects SF integration paper

Jeffrey Donaldson
Jeffrey Donaldson said there were 'key differences' in the Executive draft

The DUP has said a Sinn Fein paper on community relations is "not a basis for building trust or confidence".

On Wednesday, Sinn Fein released their document after the DUP had accused them of holding up the Executive strategy on Cohesion, Sharing and Integration.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said a shared future was not "created by imposing their template rather than a template based on a broad consensus".

Sinn Fein said they are not to blame for delaying the Executive strategy.

A key difference between the two parties is how to bring about the good community relations they both say they want.

Sinn Fein has put the emphasis on equality as the foundation of good relations.

The DUP does not dispute that equality is an important element of any strategy but say Sinn Fein has treated it as a panacea while downplaying other aspects such as lack of education, prejudice and ignorance.

DUP sources have claimed Sinn Fein want to be "separate but equal."

While Sinn Fein sources suggest some in the DUP "can't cope with equality."

Mr Donaldson has made public a 2008 draft of the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy produced by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).

He said it demonstrated "key differences" with the Sinn Fein paper.

'Justifiable concern'

"The policy document which Sinn Fein has launched has been approved and cleared by nobody but Sinn Fein," he said.

"Whereas the document which I am making available for public consumption has been formulated through intensive discussions over a substantial period of time not only inside OFMDFM but also, amongst the Community Relations Council, the Equality Commission and representatives of the ethnic minority community."

Martina Anderson, Sinn Fein spokesperson on equality, launched the party's 43-page document after First Minister Peter Robinson blamed Sinn Fein for a long delay in publishing the community relations strategy.

Ms Anderson said there was "justifiable concern" about the delay and that political recrimination was wrong. She called for "mature political leadership" from all parties.

She added that her party was committed to an approach based on equality before adding: "Unfortunately this has not always been forthcoming from all parties."

She insisted the substance of the paper reflected the party's approach in engagements with the DUP and was "a genuine effort to agree an appropriate cross-party Executive strategy".


The Executive's failure to produce a community relations strategy was criticised by the former chief constable Sir Hugh Orde in an interview he gave just before he left his job.

He told The Guardian: "It's hugely disappointing the shared future strategy is not right at the top of the public agenda. It hardly seems to be on the agenda at all."

The SDLP's equality spokesperson Alex Attwood said the dispute between DUP and Sinn Fein on a shared future is "the defining example of paralysis at the heart of devolved institutions."

He said: "The Office of First and Deputy First Minister bears the tell-tale signs of disarray."

Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy said the situation had become "farcical."

"For over a year now, we have been promised the draft strategy - over the past few days Sinn Fein and the DUP have published their own versions.

"Building a community in Northern Ireland in which all cultural traditions are respected, in which bigotry is challenged, and in which good relations are promoted is a hefty responsibility that the two OFMDFM parties are failing miserably to live up to," he added.

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16 Sep 09 |  Northern Ireland

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