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Monday, 14 October, 2002, 20:21 GMT 21:21 UK
Assembly suspended over 'loss of trust'
Devolution in Northern Ireland is to be suspended for the fourth time at midnight on Monday amid a further crisis in the political process.

The latest deadlock has been caused by allegations of IRA intelligence gathering inside the Northern Ireland Office.
The only way to put power sharing back together is for the two sides to address each other

John Reid
NI secretary

Several people have been charged in relation to the allegations.

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid announced the imminent resumption of direct rule from Westminster during a news conference at Hillsborough Castle on Monday.

It is not known when power will be restored to the Stormont administration.

Dr Reid said he was taking such action "regrettably" as it had been impossible to overcome the current difficulties in the political process which, he said, stemmed from a loss of trust on both sides.

"Powersharing can only work in partnership if both sides trust the other," he said.

"What has happened is that a number of factors most importantly the continuing alleged violence that is being used by the republicans is completely undermining trust.

"So the only way to put power sharing back together is for the two sides to address each other and to address that problem."

NI Assembly 1998-2002

February 2000 - Mandelson three month suspension
August 2001 - Reid 24 hour technical suspension
September 2001 - Reid 24 hour suspension
October 2002 - Ulster Unionists resign from executive
November 2001 - Assembly executive re-instated
October 2002 - Reid suspension

He said that Angela Smith, MP for Basildon, and Ian Pearson, who represents Dudley South, had been appointed to the ministerial team in Belfast.

He said it was hoped to find a basis to bring the institutions back into operation as soon as possible, and the date for next May's elections to the assembly still stood.

He also said he wanted the work of the Policing Board to continue.

Following the announcement, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Premier Bertie Ahern issued a joint statement.

They said: "The two governments are both deeply saddened by today's developments."

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
David Trimble: "We have delivered the politics"

But they stressed they remained firmly committed to the Good Friday Agreement and were determined it would succeed.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams accused Dr Reid of being "very, very dishonest in his remarks".

"It strikes me to ask one question - what has been achieved by this morning's announcement?

"[John Reid] talks about democracy, while for the fourth - the third time for him - suspending the institutions.

"Dr Reid is an intelligent man and he must know that what he is doing is accommodating resistance to the Good Friday Agreement."

Gerry Adams:
Gerry Adams: Accused Dr Reid of being "dishonest"

Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley - whose two ministers resigned from the executive on Friday - said any talks to find a new political settlement must be held after an assembly election was called.

He said: "Those who do not want elections are afraid of the verdict of those elections. We need to get back to the task of finding a way Northern Ireland can be governed on a purely democratic basis."

SDLP leader and Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan said there must be a determined effort to deal with the underlying confidence issues.

"My faith and confidence in the Good Friday Agreement has not dissipated. In fact I have more confidence in it than ever," he added.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has met for a final debate ahead of suspension taking affect.

Speaking on Monday before the announcement, Northern Ireland's First Minister and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said talks after suspension needed to focus on the activities of paramilitaries.

He said: "It is those who are in those paramilitary (groups), or who have influence over them or can bring pressure to bear on them who will be resolving that."

Earlier this month, Mr Trimble said his party would pull out of power sharing unless the UK Government proposed the expulsion of Sinn Fein from the Stormont administration.

Unionists demanded Sinn Fein's expulsion from government over allegations of IRA activity, including claims it was involved in training left-wing Colombian guerrillas and was behind a break-in at the police's Belfast headquarters in March.

Meanwhile, US President George W Bush said he supported the "difficult but necessary" decision to suspend.

He welcomed the two governments' commitment to "restore confidence between the parties and peoples of Northern Ireland, hold elections, and reinstate power-sharing as soon as is possible" and added the "Good Friday Agreement remains the best framework for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland".

The BBC's Denis Murray
"The government says there is now breathing space"
N. Ireland First Minister David Trimble
"The instability that has been there in the process is still there"
Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid
"Until people learn to trust and rebuild together we won't get to the essence of this problem"
Find out more about the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process

Devolution crisis





See also:

14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
12 Oct 02 | N Ireland
11 Oct 02 | N Ireland
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