The Conservatives in Brighton: Ulster deal 'must reflect parity between traditions'

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Indy Politics
ANY AGREEMENT that emerges from the political talks on the future government of Northern Ireland must reflect 'parity of esteem' between the two main traditions in the province, Sir Patrick Mayhew, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, told the conference.

Sir Patrick said the fact that the parties were still talking, 'and in full flow', five months after they began offered great hope.

'One thing is sure: the people want them to succeed. They beg me to keep them going. They are weary of the shackles of the past . . . We will not allow ourselves to be deflected by any temporary setback we may well yet meet.'

Responding to a short debate in which one Ulster Tory councillor was pessimistic about the talks, Sir Patrick said the rock on which all hopes for the talks and all his policies rested, was the constitutional guarantee. For as long as the people of Northern Ireland wished to remain within the Union that decision would be respected and upheld.

'Equally there is now, and these talks are evidence of it, a recognition of, and a respect for, the two main traditions in Northern Ireland.'

Sir Patrick adopted a notably friendlier tone to the Northern Ireland Conservatives. Peter Brooke, his predecessor, resisted their move in 1989 to organise in the province, but Sir Patrick saluted their courage and looked forward to the election of many more Conservative councillors.

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