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Thursday, April 30, 1998 Published at 08:57 GMT 09:57 UK

Trimble: 'IRA disarms or Sinn Fein should go'
image: [ David Trimble: confident the Prime Minister will act ]
David Trimble: confident the Prime Minister will act

David Trimble: "I regard this as a repudiation by Sinn Fein." (4'48")
The Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble says the IRA's statement on the Northern Ireland peace agreement and its refusal to give up its arms amounts to a rejection of the deal by Sinn Fein.

The IRA said the peace deal was significant, but fell short of "presenting a solid basis for a lasting settlement". It added: "There will be no decommissioning by the IRA."

Need for a genuine peace

Mr Trimble said the Prime Minister Tony Blair must now make it clear "Sinn Fein/IRA" could not have any of the benefits of the agreement, like early prisoner release, without accepting the obligations which went with a genuine peace and handing in its arms.

"We are not surprised by the statement because the fact that Sinn Fein didn't endorse the agreement is an indicator this was coming. Sinn Fein and the IRA are one and the same.

"It is now incumbent on Mr Blair to make it absolutely clear to Sinn Fein/IRA that there must be peace, not just a temporary, tactical ceasefire but a genuine peace or Sinn Fein/IRA derives no benefit from the agreement.

"I believe he will do that."

'No place for private armies'

"You can't say there's a peace agreement if some party has a private army armed to the teeth ready for action. There is no place for private armies in a democracy.

"The statement is in effect a rejection of the agreement by Sinn Fein/IRA.

"If they don't accept the agreement there is no place for them in the process.

"It doesn't mean that the agreement fails as the agreement can still be brought forward by the democratic parties."

'Two-fingered salute'

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, told the IRA its refusal to disarm, in the wake of the Stormont agreement, was unacceptable.

Mo Mowlam: parties cannot cherrypick the agreement (0'42")
Dr Mowlam said: "If these arrangements are going to work then everyone involved will have to give up violence for good, and (arms) decommissioning is an essential part of the package."

Ian Paisley Jnr, the justice spokesman of the Democratic Unionist Party, said the statement showed that a "yes" vote in the May 22 referendum on the deal would be a vote "for a stronger, better, freer IRA".

He added: "This is a statement which is a two-fingered salute to the entire people of Northern Ireland, the people who have been terrorised by the Provisional IRA, and an indication that if they don't get their own way they have the means and the potential to keep on killing."

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