Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Is Oath a Barrier Too Far?

Yesterday's cancellation of talks between Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams is down to the ability of one man to say an oath.

Martin McGuinness is widely tipped as Sinn Féin's chosen candidate to become Deputy First Minister is power sharing can be agreed. However, he is a former commander in the IRA and their is a doubt over his ability to swear an oath in support of the police and rule of law should he take office.

While some press only mention that Peter Hain stepped in to postpone the meeting the Belfast Telegraph has no qualms about laying the blame on Paisley's door. Dr Paisley is quoted as saying that the Oath should be taken by both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister at the time they assume shadow responibilty upon their designation on 24 November.

However, a senior source in the Northern Ireland Office pointed out that this would appear contrary to what the DUP were striving for at the St. Andrew's talks. The DUP's stance during those talks was to avoid the appearance of actually taking up office on 24 November. Comparing this dilemma that Dr Paisley is creating the source added:

"It is analogous to an oath of office being taken by any MP. You don't take it when you are nominated or even when you are elected. You take the oath when you actually take up your seat."

So the question to Dr Paisley must be do you want an appearance of taking up office on 24 November or do you want to carry out what you negotiated for in Fife?

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