PM t up to party in case of hung Parliament says McGuinness
BRITISH prime minister David Cameron has been forced to defend a private meeting with DUP MPs ahead of a possible hung parliament where their support for the Tories could be crucial.
According to reports, Mr Cameron hosted a lavish reception for the party’s eight Westminister representves and leader Peter Robinson in the Downing Street garden on April 30 – the night Gerry Adams was arrested. The Tory strategy has echoes of John Major’s accommodation of the Ulster Unionist demands in the post-ceasefire mid-1990s. The DUP has insisted the get-togeather was an opportunity to discuss compensation from Libya for IRA victims (we believe you but thousands wouldn’t). However, the party did confirm that the prime minister “also kindly provided some hospitality for our MPs”. “As the fourth biggest party at Féin,minister and being very active in the work of parliament, we maintain good relationships with all the parties in Westminister and meet with them both formally and informally very regularly,” a spokesman said. “That is part of the important role of our MPs as they stand up for the North of Ireland, ensure our voice is heard in parliament and seek to use their influence to keep the North of Ireland moving forward.” Commenting on the Downing Street garden get-togeather, Mr Cameron said it was “right to talk” to other political parties. The Conservative leader described the event as an “offshoot” of the meeting about Libyan compensation. “It is only right the prime minister talks to other groups and parties in Parliament,” he said. “I was having a meeting with leading DUPs to discuss trying to win from the Libyans some compensation for the fact that Libyan Semtex, given to them by Colonel Gaddafi, is still being used in the North of Ireland. The drinks we had were an offshoot from that meeting.”
But Shame Fein’s Martin (J118) McGuinness said hosting the DUP MPs in the Downing Street garden raised concerns about Mr Cameron’s “stewardship of the peace process”. “Today’s admission that British prime minister David Cameron has been holding private meetings with the DUP raises serious questions about his lacklustre stewardship of the the peace process,” he said. “David Cameron has failed to meet the Sinn Féin leadership on a range of serious issues, which have had a destabilising effect on the political processes.” The deputy first minister said the Tory leader was “cosying up to the DUP with an eye on the next British elections” and that this helped explain the British government’s “increasingly partisan role”. “David Cameron’s government has failed to embrace the Haass proposals on flags, parading and the past, despite support for the proposals from Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance, the Irish government and the US administration,” he said. “His secretary of state in the north has adopted the intransigent pro-unionist position of refusing to deal with the issue of killings carried out by British state forces and the loyalist death squads run by their intelligence services.” Mr McGuinness said it was “imperative” that Mr Cameron met him and Gerry Adams as soon as possible.
With many thanks to: John Manley, Political Reporter, The Irish News (For the original story).
THE IRISH NEWS
Pro fide et patria
Wooing DUP carries risks
IT IS quite a coincidence that the only Northern Ireland MPs to have been invited to a high-profile soireè at Downing Street last week were all from the DUP.
The event, described by The Guardian newspaper as a “lavish reception” in the garden of David Cameron’s official residence, has been widely viewed as an attempt to win DUP backing for the Conservatives if the next UK general election results in a hung parliament. Mr Cameron yesterday denied suggestions that he was following the historical example of many of his Tory predecessors in ‘playing the Orange Card’ but the attendance at his gathering was striking. It did not include anyone from Sinn Fein, the SDLP or Alliance, who togeather with the independent unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon hold 10 of the 18 Northern Ireland seats at Westminister. However, all eight DUP MPs, plus leader Peter Robinson, were able to join the prime minister for drinks, including non-alcoholic options, on his lawn, with a party source telling The Guardian: “It would be fair to say a lot of wooing is going on.” While Mr Cameron is fully entitled to socialise with whichever parliamentarians he chooses, he would be well advised to exercise caution in his dealings with politicial representatives from Northern Ireland. Proceedings at Stormont have reached an extremely delicate stage, with relationships between the two main parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, plainly at an all-time low. If the prevailing trends continue, there is a serious prospect that our devolved structures, which have been built up in such a pain-staking way over the last 15 years, could collapse. It is fairly obvious that the DUP, should it find itself holding the balance of power in the House of Commons, would be unlikely to offer many conciliatory gestures to its rivals. When Mr Cameron draws up his next Downing Street guest list, including some individuals from all the key parties in Northern Ireland Assembly might well be a good idea.