Northern Ireland news

State Papers: New north-south body could not be 'Trojan horse' for united Ireland, unionists warned

Seamus Mallon in 2005
√Čamon Phoenix

A NEW north-south body could not be "a Trojan horse for a united Ireland" unionists warned.

It was noted that discussion around Strand 2 in the Good Friday Agreement (north-south matters) was characterised by "a palpable sense of good humour".

The "most important exchanges were between Jeffrey Donaldson (UUP) and Seamus Mallon (SDLP) during which Mr Mallon attempted to persuade Mr Donaldson to accept the merits for a north-south council rather than seeing it only in economic and political terms".

The UUP explained that, while it was not advocating a return to the old Stormont, likewise the new north-south body could not be "a Trojan horse for a united Ireland". It was a matter of creating a structure to suit all needs.

The discussion concluded when Mr Donaldson explained what he thought nationalists needed for a settlement. Mr Mallon was invited "to put himself in the shoes of a unionist trying to sell the terms of a settlement to his electorate".

Mr Mallon explained that he would say he had achieved constitutional change in the Republic; he had been able to guarantee the principle of consent and had brought back power to the people of the north and, for all this, "he had only had to concede a north-south council of ministers to which they, the unionists, would be members".

In a note on Mr Mallon’s performance "posing as a unionist", an NIO official wrote: "He demonstrated that, if he chose, he had the potential to become an extremely accomplished and able unionist politician."

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