power to the Unionists through the back door.
The agreement over powersharing must come first and his aim is to win over the Official
IN ARTICLES written exclusively for the Catholic Herald (pages 6 and 7), the leaders of the six main political parties in Northern Ireland give their views of the way forward now after the Loyalist strike in May and the local By elections in the province.
The most significant common ground is, as one might expect, the demand for some form of devolved government for Northern Ireland.
Although there does not seem to be sufficient agreement on power sharing to entrust a parliament in Northern Ireland with full executive powers immediately, there could he, as Bill Craig suggests. an assembly to which power was transferred when the Government of the United Kingdom was satisfied that it would help bring stability and peace.
The significant party which at present opposes such an assembly is the SDLP. This shows a lack of trust for Westminster's pledges. Its Leader Gerry Fitt, says that it would have the effect of giving hack Unionist party from Paisley to power sharing.
Mr Craig is particularly imaginative, and has come a long way since the days when he was Minister for Home Affairs in the last Stormont Government. His priority is peace and he praises the Cosgrave Government in the Republic for their co-operation in helping to create a helpful climate and hopes that Fianna Fail will also prove receptive.
Harry West of the Ulster Unionist Party, whose position at the centre of the Unionist spectrum, gives him immense influence, states that he is not opposed to power sharing but
"we could not share in Government with those who actually seek to destroy our Ulster identity by breaking the Union and merging us in an Irish Republic."
In an aside comment, Mr West encourages the growing demand for art integrated school system but the final message is that unless some form of government is restored to the province then things may get worse there.
Mrs Anne Dickson, the successor to Brian Faulkner as leader of the small Unionist Party , of Northern Ireland, which was the only section of the Unionists to hack power sharing, says that its role recently has been to play honest broker to the other parties. She resurrects the idea of committees drawn from all parties serving as advisory bodies to the Westminster Ministers dealing with Northern Ireland.
Oliver Napier, the Alliance Party leader, says that the longterm solution must be the bringing together of the two communities, and in the short term the objective should be the eradication of violence. He says that there is no military solution to terrorism but the British Government has at last learnt that gathering information, arresting and convicting those guilty of violence is the only way of defeating it. Mr Napier, whose party made significant advances in the local elections, says that though there is little likelihood of achieving party agreement sufficient to form a cabinettype government this does not mean that no progress can be made. He calls for "some form of democratic institution as a first and essential step towards the eventual re-establishment of a devolved parliament."
"It would seem to me," he writes, "that the best hope lies in the establishment of a Northern Ireland Parliament on the basis that no power either in legislative or executive terms would be transferred until the United Kingdom Government and Parliament were satisfied that such a transfer would enhance the prospects of peace and stability rather than heighten the conflict."
The Rev Ian Paisley, MP, has more decisive views if less acceptable to the Catholic community. Blaming the last eight years on the IRA. he calls for the return of capital punishment. "I am convinced," he says, "that Protestant paramilitary groups would cease immediately the Roman Catholic IRA was put out of action."