Hard-line party says it won’t overthrow N. Ireland peace deal

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Seeking seats in Northern Ireland’s new legislative Assembly, the province’s most hard-line Protestant party insisted Tuesday that it won’t try to destroy the peace deal it so vehemently opposed.
But Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, angered fellow pro-British Protestants by criticizing Queen Elizabeth II for welcoming the accord and calling her a parrot of the prime minister.
The April 10 accord, endorsed Friday by 71 percent of Northern Ireland voters, requires Catholics and Protestants to cooperate within the new 108-seat Assembly. Paisley had led the opposition to the accord.
His deputy, Peter Robinson, said the party would defend Northern Ireland’s 77-year-old union with Britain, but it also would not try to undo the agreement.
Paisley complicated Robinson’s efforts to strike a softer tone ahead of the June 25 Assembly elections.
The party leader claimed that British Prime Minister Tony Blair has instructed the queen to travel to Northern Ireland before the elections to put “a sugarcoating on the people.” She would follow “the voice of her masters and, of course, she has become the parrot,” Paisley said.
Buckingham Palace has declined to confirm or deny reports that the queen will visit Northern Ireland, and the queen did not respond to Paisley’s remarks.