Robinson accuses McGuinness of 'visceral hatred of Orange Order'

The North's First Minister Peter Robinson has accused Martin McGuinness of a "visceral hatred of the Orange Institution" and said he is in "political denial".

His comments came after Deputy First Minister McGuinness said in a TV interview that the Orange Order, the UVF, and PUP were acting as "one and the same thing".

Mr Robinson said his ministerial colleague was speaking as if he were "dictator" of the peace process and "clearly has an exaggerated view of what his role is within the process".

Mr McGuinness urged all parties to implement proposals drawn up by former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass following months of negotiations.

Democratic Unionists have expressed reservations and Mr Robinson claimed his Stormont power-sharing partner appears to believe it is everyone else’s duty to reach agreement on his terms.

The Orange Order said it made its own decisions, and described Sinn Fein as "masters of propaganda". Spokesman Mervyn Gibson denied any link with paramilitaries.

"The Orange Order's record is clear on where it stands on supporting the security forces…All shades of unionism support the organisation, but we are not a paramilitary organisation, nor have we been," he said.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP have endorsed the draft plan published after Stormont talks broke up without agreement on New Year’s Eve. It includes new mechanisms for dealing with the past and parades and greater provision for victims of the 30-year conflict.

The DUP and Ulster Unionists have been less happy.

Mr Robinson added: “Every party in the process has had to move in order to narrow the differences. It is his responsibility to show some leadership and work to reach agreement on outstanding issues.

“Again, Sinn Fein will not dictate the rules of engagement. They do not own the process. They do not control how it will function or what it will (or will not) consider, nor will they prescribe the timing.

“The five parties will, by consensus, agree all of those matters and if they fail to agree then it will be as much his fault that he could not reach agreement with the majority unionist community as it would be the fault of unionists that they could not reach agreement with nationalists.”

He said republicans will not regulate this exercise.

“As the largest party in Northern Ireland we will not be shepherded into any structure that restricts our ability to conclude agreement on deal imperatives.

“If Sinn Féin or any other party does not want to be part of a process that seeks to resolve outstanding issues they can walk away - but that will display a lack of leadership on their part.”

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