Fianna Fail move 'could destroy the Agreement'

UUP strategist and News Letter columnist Alex Kane has hit out at Irish premier Bertie Ahern's plan for his Fianna Fail party to organise in Northern Ireland.

Mr Ahern announced the strategy on Monday and said the party hadn't plans for Westminster seats.

Speaking at a Celtic Fringe seminar in Edinburgh yesterday, Mr Kane said the strategy would only serve to alienate unionists despite the removal of Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution and the territorial claims on Northern Ireland.

He said: "No one should underestimate the fundamental stupidity of Fianna Fail's proposals to 'develop a strategy for organising the party on a 32-county basis'.

"These proposals undermine the overriding purpose of removing Articles 2 and 3 – which was to reassure unionists that both sides, across Ireland and in Northern Ireland, could co-exist within their own clearly defined geographical and constitutional territories.

"The presence of Fianna Fail in Northern Ireland's electoral battles, almost certainly in tandem with the SDLP, can only be construed as pan-nationalism in another form.

"The Celtic Tiger has now been joined by the Republican Wild Boar," he claimed.

He accused Mr Ahern of 'stirring the pot' when he said on Monday: "We are conscious that ultimately 2016 moves upon us. It won't be too long upon us.

"We want to move with our Northern friends: nationalists, republicans, unionists, loyalists, to make this a better island and Fianna Fail as a republican party, the biggest republican party, wants to be at the forefront of doing that in the years ahead. We can't do that if we don't play a role, an active role in Northern Ireland."

Mr Kane said Mr Ahern was sticking his nose in where it wasn't wanted.

He said: "Putting it bluntly, the Irish prime minister seems to have decided that the Belfast Agreement isn't the concluding part of the peace process that some of us believed it to be. Instead, he wants to celebrate the centenary of the Easter rebellion with a run-up strategy which undermines the Agreement and pushes Northern Ireland further from its UK roots.

"It is a move which could have very serious, dangerous and violent consequences.

"Oddly enough, it may even encourage the coming together of the remnants of anti-Agreement unionism into a new party.

"They now have the very bogeyman they needed to give purpose to their mission.

"If Bertie Ahern wants to destroy the Belfast Agreement he will give the nod to Fianna Fail's active participation in Northern Ireland.

"If, however, he wants to promote and protect that Agreement, then he will ensure that Fianna Fail keeps its party political nose out of Northern Ireland."