Anger as Durkan raises spectre of unionist majority rule
Sinn Féin Vice President and West Tyrone MP MLA Pat Doherty says that there is total disbelief and much anger within the republican and nationalist community that SDLP Leader Mark Durkan's is proposing the adoption of DUP party policy in terms of ending powersharing at Stormont and replacing it with voluntary coalition and majority rule.
"The powersharing institutions are an integral part of the Good Friday Agreement and for good reason. Now Mark Durkan is proposing to dispense with this system of government which, while not perfect, at least provides protections to the republican and nationalist community that majority unionist rule and all the abuses of power that went with it would never again occur.
"Sinn Féin has been at the forefront to defending power-sharing both at Stormont and within local government.
"Many people are angry that Mark Durkan now says he is willing to accept unionist majority rule as long as there is a Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is part of the Good Friday Agreement and must be delivered regardless. However, Mark Durkan is now telling us that he is willing to trade nationalist participation in the Executive for the delivery of this same Bill of Rights
"Even in the context of a Bill of Rights, a unionist Executive dominated by the DUP would undoubtedly seek to pursue policies and decisions to undermine, as much as possible, the all-Ireland dimension of the Good Friday Agreement and re-entrench partition. Equally, with decision making powers solely in the hands of unionist Ministers what chance would areas like west of the Bann, for example, have in terms of the allocation of resources and investment.
"Up to this point, the DUP has failed to demonstrate that they are committed to sharing power on the basis of equality.
"The SDLP should join Sinn Fein in challenging the DUP. Instead, Mark Durkan has indicated that he wants to let the DUP rule the roost in a totally unionist Executive at Stormont.
"While some might view this as an attempt by the SDLP leader to make himself relevent, others know that what he is proposing is very dangerous. The suspicion is that Mark Durkan is again putting narrow party self interest above the need to ensure effective power sharing and the protection of the nationalist and republican constituency.
"Is it any wonder that the DUP's Upper Bann MP David Simpson has greeted Mark Durkan's comments with glee saying that he welcomes "news that Mark Durkan and the SDLP have eventually caught a glimpse of page 29 of the DUP's 2007 Election Manifesto and have recognised that our policy is not only wise but practical."
"There is disbelief and anger within the republican and nationalist community about what Mark Durkan is proposing. Regardless of Mark Durkan's ill-advised abandonment of power sharing or the haste from the DUP, UUP and Alliance Party to welcome his U-turn, there will be no return to majority unionist rule at Stormont and neither will there be an engineered process to exclude Sinn Féin." ENDS