DUP must now come clean over draft accord, says TUV's Allister
TUV leader Jim Allister has challenged the DUP to publish evidence to support its claim that no draft deal was reached with Sinn Fein over an Irish Language Act.
Following detailed reports of what is alleged to have been included in a document drawn up by both parties, Mr Allister said the time had arrived for "unequivocal answers".Poll: Is it time papers were published?
"Recent events, suggesting last-minute reprieve from catastrophic rollover on Irish Language demands, have dented unionist morale and bred distrust," said Mr Allister. "Secrecy and denials, which are contradicted by sequencing which had the appearance of a Sinn Fein/DUP deal, have only added to the unease.
"I am in no doubt about Sinn Fein's capacity for mendacity and its vested interest in undermining unionism, nor am I ignorant of the fact that there are journalists sympathetic to their agenda. However, we need total clarity and transparency from the DUP."
Mr Allister's demand followed reports over the weekend by commentators Eamonn Mallie and Brian Rowan suggesting the two parties had agreed a document of around a dozen pages in which the Irish language, legacy and the petition of concern were addressed. The reports claimed the "heavy lifting" had been done, and "unresolved matters" had all been ironed out after a series of emails, texts and meetings between the parties.
Details in the document were reported to include information about three self-contained acts - an Irish Language Act, an Ulster Scots Act and a third Respecting Language and Diversity Act, all linked but "freestanding and self-contained". One report said the British and Irish Governments were "fully sighted of the contents of the draft agreement".
Mr Allister added: "If there is an email ascribing ownership of the document to the DUP, then those who make this claim should publish it. If the DUP disputes the Mallie/Rowan contentions, then, let them publish minutes/emails which must exist to counter that narrative, if the DUP was indeed consistent in rejecting an Irish Language Act.
"Unequivocal answers are now imperative."