Molyneaux lays out terms for votes deal: Unionist leader wants firm rejection of Irish unity from Anglo-Irish agreement

Click to follow
Indy Politics
ALL TRACES of encouragement for Dublin's aspirations to Irish unity had to be wiped from the Anglo-Irish agreement, James Molyneaux, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, has told the Government.

That was the underlying message faxed to the Northern Ireland Office in April, after John Major had visited the province.

Mr Molyneaux told the Independent this week that his fax was part of the background to the delivery of the nine Ulster Unionist MPs' votes for the Government in last week's Commons crisis over Maastricht.

The fax contained two extracts from a speech given by Mr Molyneaux to the Ulster Unionist Council in March, when he said: 'Her Majesty's Government, which went to war in the Gulf to reject Iraq's claim to Kuwait . . . must now without delay dispel the ambiguity which compels Northern Ireland ministers to co-operate with Irish ministers bound by a constitutional imperative to unify Ireland.'

Mr Molyneaux said on BBC Radio 4's World at One yesterday that his party's votes would 'ensure that they have remaining in power a Government which has stated through the mouth of the Prime Minister in Scotland particularly, and during the election campaign, that the union must be maintained; the union of the United Kingdom, of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. He also said that if any one were detached, all would be the poorer.

'That is the philosophy of this Government, as opposed to Labour Party policy - whether they mean it or not is another thing - that they want to see a united Ireland.

'They said it must come by consent, but then Mr McNamara (Kevin McNamara, Labour's frontbench spokesman) goes a little further than that and says: 'Well, if they don't consent, we'll jolly well make them consent.' There's a difference, isn't there?'

However, Mr Molyneaux told the Independent this week that there had been a distinct shift in Labour policy since his party had supported James Callaghan's Labour administration in the late 1970s.

'I have always accepted the right of the Labour Party to say their ideal would be a peaceful Ireland, united by consent. The meaning of the word consent in the minds of Jim Callaghan and Michael Foot was the free, whole-hearted consent of the people of Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join the Irish Republic.

'It was not to be any form of coercion or blackmail. Kevin's philosophy is that while he subscribes to that form of words, he will use every weapon in his armoury, including the Anglo-Irish agreement and the British-Irish parliamentary body, to persuade - a nice word for force - them to consent before they might otherwise do it.'

The other extract from Mr Molyneaux's faxed speech was about the need for a 'Blueprint for Stability'; an all-party agreement to create and sustain trust between the Ulster communities. That could be built, he said, on the basis of 'responsibility sharing', but he also said: 'If that should prove too ambitious, we might move down the scale until we discover the common denominator on which we can start to build a structure capable of delivering accountable democracy.'