Tories want Ulster plan published

Click to follow
Senior Tory backbenchers last night demanded publication of the leaked framework document on the future of Northern Ireland at a late night meeting with Northern Ireland ministers. During talks with Michael Ancram, the Northern Ireland minister responsible for the cross-party talks on Ulster, the executive of the Conservative backbench committee on Northern Ireland urged the Government to speed up publication.

They want early publication of the document to lift the threat from the Ulster Unionists to withdraw their support for the Government, risking a general election, in protest at the leaks about a cross-border body.

The MPs were told that Sir Patrick Mayhew, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is refusing to back down over the proposed cross-border body, appointed from the Irish oarliament and the planned new assembly for Ulster.

"The ministers say the document is not as bad as it looks from the leak, and that when you see the whole thing, it is balanced. The answer is to get it out in the open as fast as possible," said one leading Tory MP.

Some MPs also yesterday met privately with Ulster Unionist MPs to find out how real is the threat to the Government.

In spite of the MPs' demands, the document is not due to be published before 14 February, when the next Anglo-Irish conference will be held between Sir Patrick and Dick Spring, the Irish foreign minister. It is likely to be published after a further meeting between John Bruton, the Irish Prime Minister, and John Major.