17 January 2014
Statement by DUP Leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Rt. Hon. Peter Robinson MLA
DUP Leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland
“The unhelpful and irrational comments made by Martin McGuinness will do nothing to take the negotiations forward. He is in political denial and clearly has an exaggerated view of what his role is within the process. He speaks as if it is every other party’s requirement to move to his position – and if they do not then he considers it to be a lack of leadership on their part. He speaks as if he is not one of the parties but rather the controller and dictator of how the process will operate. He appears to believe it is everyone else’s duty to reach an agreement on his terms.
Every party in the process has had to move in order to narrow the differences. It is his responsibility to show some leadership and work to reach agreement on outstanding issues. Again, Sinn Fein will not dictate the rules of engagement. They do not own the process. They do not control how it will function or what it will (or will not) consider, nor will they prescribe the timing. The five parties will, by consensus, agree all of those matters and if they fail to agree then it will be as much his fault that he could not reach agreement with the majority unionist community as it would be the fault of unionists that they could not reach agreement with nationalists. SF will not regulate this exercise.
As the largest party in Northern Ireland, we will not be shepherded into any structure that restricts our ability to conclude agreement on deal imperatives. If SF or any other party does not want to be part of a process, that seeks to resolve outstanding issues, they can walk away but that will display a lack of leadership on their part.
The Deputy First Minister shows a visceral hatred of the Orange Institution in his interview. While the DUP will always take its own decisions on political matters it deliberately invited a representative of the Orange Order to be part of the Haass Talks. I defy Martin McGuinness to deny that Mervyn Gibson's contribution was anything other than instructive and positive. It is not a revelation to say that there is a link between the PUP and the UVF. Nor is there any news in the suggestion that just as the Orange has within its membership people who are in the DUP, UUP and TUV so too it includes members of the PUP. However, I have no doubt that the Orange Order takes its own counsel and decisions in the same way as any other organisation. The Orange has not attempted in any way to impose its will on the process and has most recently issued an encouraging and positive statement expressing its willingness to be helpful.
SF should refrain from further public utterances aimed at heightening tensions within the Talks. Let's have less of the mind games outside the process and more serious engagement within it.”