Bear with me, I’ll try to get to everyone. More than one party had discussions with Bertie Ahern yesterday. David Trimble led a UUP delegation to meet with the Taoiseach and his Ministers at Government Buildings. The Irish Times has a thorough report on what was said by Mr Trimble both before the meeting and afterwards – “there is no question now of the old game continuing”
Before the meeting, the Irish Times reports David Trimble setting out his reasons for being there –
“One of the main reasons why we have come here today is to make clear to the Irish Government the very changed situation we are now in.”
Referring to the bank raid and other criminal activity, he said: “It is our considered view as to the result of these actions by the republican movement that it would be impossible as things stand, and I think also for the foreseeable future, to have a situation where the majority of the unionists elected in Northern Ireland would be prepared to endorse or even tolerate an administration that included Sinn Féin.
It has to be appreciated that we are now in quite a different situation than the situation even two months ago during the final stages of the DUP-Sinn Féin negotiation. We are now in quite a different situation, and we are here to see if minds are prepared to focus on where we go as a result of that.”
And afterwards, MLA Michael McGimpsey said the meeting had been cordial, but “clearly the situation is very serious. We cannot conceive of a situation in which unionists would share power with Sinn Féin in a devolved executive for the foreseeable future. We think that the Northern Bank raid was basically the straw that broke the camel’s back. We have had a number of incidents like this, and I think that that has done serious damage to the situation where we have a paramilitary army and we have its political wing.
“It seems to us that the resolute response we require from both governments is to respond to the paramilitary army. They are the ones who are doing the damage.
“They are the ones who are causing all of the problems and Sinn Féin and Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness are merely their obedient nodding donkeys who are wheeled out whenever the IRA do something that they shouldn’t do and are there to excuse the IRA.”[my emphasis]
He also set down a marker that seems to chime with what the Irish and British Govrnements are saying “It seems to us that you can’t do business with their political wing while their military wing is still in operation.“
Putting his name to the final comments from the UUP delegations was Reg Empey, who characterised the general sentiment at the prospect of waiting too long for a response from Sinn Féin –
..inaction would mean everyone was being punished for the actions of one group. “That is not consistent with the agreement which says that everybody has to be committed to exclusively peaceful means.”
He said that if the Governments did nothing they would effectively be punishing the democrats and destroying the Assembly because of a bank robbery.[my emphasis]