Paisley withdraws from talks

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE Rev Ian Paisley yesterday maintained his efforts to wrest important concessions from the Irish government in advance of the visit his party is due to pay to Dublin later this month, writes David McKittrick.

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party reiterated his demand for the Irish government to commit itself to changing the Irish constitution, declaring that otherwise progress could not be made.

He and his deputy, Peter Robinson, have withdrawn from talks, saying they will return when the agenda reaches the question of articles two and three of the Irish Republic's constitution, which are held to lay claim over Northern Ireland.

Two party members are however remaining at the table as observers. The question of whether the party will take part in talks when they move to Dublin later this month is now in doubt.

It seems inconceivable that Dublin will give Mr Paisley his concessions. All the talks participants have taken the position that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Dublin's stance has been that constitutional change is a possibility only in the context of an overall settlement.

Opinions differ on Mr Paisley's intentions. He may be resorting to bluster to drive a hard bargain.