Gaps apparent as criticism continues

If you’re having difficulty deciding which way to vote in our new poll [and the optimists appear to be thin on the ground for now] this BBC report on the DUP conference speeches may indicate just how wide the gap between certain parties actually is. But it’s not just at the DUP conference that both governments are being criticised. As today’s Irish Times reports, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has criticised Taoiseach Bertie Ahern[subs req] for attempting to downplay the findings of the IMC report. And then there’s the Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay, quoted here who is challenging the new parliamentary allowance proposed by Peter HainAndrew McKinlay, is quoted in the Newsletter article

Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay had earlier questioned Mr Hoon on the nature of next week’s vote.

He asked: “Am I correct that the resolutions before us will restore that which was taken away, but will also give a new additional allowance exclusive to Sinn Fein which is better than the short money, better than what the Conservatives and Liberals get?

“This is Hain money, or Sinn Hain money if you like, and it’s a new allowance and I am not persuaded that it can be justified by any of the criteria which have been laid down for short money.”

And from the Irish Times report

“The reality now is that the Government is so determined to please Sinn Féin that it is prepared to ignore and downplay the very conclusions reached by an independent commission appointed by the governments themselves,” [Enda Kenny] said.

Mr Kenny was particularly disturbed by the revelation that the IRA leadership had sanctioned continued intelligence-gathering, but he was surprised by the Government’s failure to respond to these revelations.

“The Government has a duty to expose and eliminate these practices. Far from fulfilling this duty, it appears that the Taoiseach and his Ministers are yet again pandering to Sinn Féin,” he continued.

“I remind people of the Government’s pledge in the aftermath of the murder of Robert McCartney and the Northern Bank raid that there would be no political negotiations until all criminal activities had ended.

“Where lies now Michael McDowell’s infamous ‘no fudge, no budge’ mantra? How does it sit with Dermot Ahern’s assertion that the IMC report clears the way for all-party negotiations?”

Update UTV has a more detailed Press Association report on the DUP deputy leader’s speech