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No going back on the Good Friday Agreement – Caitríona Ruane

16 February, 2007

Speaking ahead of the March 7th Assembly Election, south Down Assembly candidate Caitríona Ruane said:

"Eighteen months after the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement the DUP in colourful language described the Assembly as the "driving force behind the imposition of a united Ireland.

"It was rhetoric designed to frighten unionists and win for the DUP the commanding position within their community and it worked. Sinn Fein, on the other hand, won its position as the leadership of the nationalist community by painstakingly arguing for meaningful change in equality, justice and policing. We remained focused. We had a game plan. We worked at two strategies; defending the rights and well-being of our constituents whether the Assembly stood or fell and demanding equality for our people and recognition of their aspirations with a system that will allow us to work for social and economic harmonisation on the island of Ireland to break down partition.

"The DUP is now a party in some disarray. Those who took Paisley's 'never, never, never' at face value cannot come to terms with reality. If the DUP does not share power with Sinn Fein then "there is something worse in its place", to quote ex-DUP Councillor Leslie Cubitt, referring to increased Dublin/London cooperation.

"DUP members in Ballymena are refusing to canvass for Paisley. Jack McKee of Larne, who has been at Paisley's side for forty years, has resigned, as has one of the founding fathers of the party, George McConnell from Kilkeel.

"This is unprecedented territory for the DUP and it would come as no surprise to us if Ian Paisley finally balked at sharing power. In such circumstances it will have been the historic sectarian culture which undermines progress in the North and the unionist community will undoubtedly have to rethink the mandate they gave the DUP.

"For our part, the future is clear. There is no going back on the Good Friday Agreement and we will ensure that the two governments continue to implement change." ENDS

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