Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

It’s ‘Gerry versus the pacemakers’ for SF

Divisions are appearing in Sinn Fein between the ‘old guard’ and realists who know the clock cannot be turned back, the DUP conference was told.

Deputy leader Nigel Dodds said it was a case of ‘Gerry versus the pacemakers’.

The old guard had raised its bearded head in the form of Gerry Adams who was “out of step, out of tune, out of touch and out of excuses”, he said.

“But he hasn't gone away you know, and now he's doing what he does best — threatening and bullying anyone who gets in his way,” he said.

Mr Dodds said the SF president’s talk of equality was code for getting the party’s own way and attacks on the DUP's ‘lack of engagement’ really meant it would not be pushed around.

“Today it is Sinn Fein who are acting like spoiled children, tugging on the apron strings of London and Dublin as they stamp their feet and throw a tantrum,” the North Belfast MP said.

In a barnstorming address to the packed gathering in Armagh, Mr Dodds said the row over yesterday's Belfast homecoming parade had allowed the “ugly face of republican sectarian bigotry” to be laid bare.

And he said the “disgraceful” attitude of the Parades Commission over the controversy had strengthened the DUP's resolve to ensure it is abolished as quickly as possible.

Earlier, in his first speech as leader to an annual conference at the opening dinner, Peter Robinson hit out at the “great and the good” in Northern Ireland for failing to point the finger at Sinn Fein over the Stormont stalemate.

The First Minister attacked the “scattergun” approach of “blaming everyone” when Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and his own party wanted an Executive meeting immediately.

“The one thing that annoys me most is the great and the good who are afraid to point the finger at those who are stopping the Executive from meeting. Only one party is stopping the Executive from meeting,” he told the dinner.

Mr Robinson later in his main address returned to the language and tone he struck on his inaugural speech as First Minister in the Assembly, insisting he wanted a province everyone can be proud of.

“I want to see a better future for everyone regardless of their background. This will secure the Union and it will secure our future,” he told the main gathering.

“It would take a collective effort and many years but it was a challenge which must be met and there was not a moment to lose. Over this next decade let us help to build a society in which everyone has the opportunity to succeed, one that we can all be proud of.”

Second only to Sinn Fein as the main target of attack was former colleague Jim Allister, whose Traditional Unionist Voice group holds its own conference next weekend.

Former Stormont Minister Edwin Poots said he had been elected as MEP on the coat-tails of former leader Ian Paisley.

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