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Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Where now for the Ulster Unionists?
A critical vote by the Ulster Unionist Party's ruling council could threaten the future of Northern Ireland's power-sharing government.
Members of the council will meet on Saturday 28 October in Belfast to discuss the state of the peace process and their frustrations over policing reforms and the lack of progress on decommissioning IRA weapons.
Nationalists and republicans want police reforms implemented in full but unionists feel the proposed changes go too far.
What should the Ulster Unionist Party do now? Do you think it would be a backward step if they withdrew from government over these issues?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Paul Allen, British, living in the Netherlands
I have read the previous comments and it frustrates me that so many of the world's population can see the stall tactics of Sinn Fein/ IRA and yet nothing seems to be done about it. The majority of rational minded people in Northern Ireland are sick of this constant petty bickering. The Assembly is a laughing stock with ex-terrorists governing education etc, etc. This is not a laughing matter, it's not about scoring points and it certainly should not be about appeasing terrorists whose propaganda has blinded the world to the real situation here. If they don't hand over weapons now, then scrap the agreement, as I for one have had enough.
Stop pandering to every Unionist objection and fully implement the Good Friday agreement. I'm sick to death of hearing Unionist politicians prattle on and on about Flag Flying, Parades, and the blatantly (to everyone but the Unionists) Sectarian RUC. The Good Friday agreement was agreed upon so why the continual rehedging?
It's time for the Unionist community and their politicians to grow up and form some "Real" policies for the future landscape that will help all the people of the North experience a better quality of life. With greater European integration and the inevitable growth of the "Nationalist" birth rate, it's time for the Unionist community to wake up and smell the roses.
The only option to unite the Ulster Unionist party and stabilise the whole situation is a return to No Guns, No Government. By that I mean actual physical destruction of the arms. The usefulness of ambiguity has run its course here as in the Middle East. With an election in May, Unionism needs to unite.
UUC Delegate, Northern Ireland
John Dunston says the majority of people in England want Northern Ireland to be independent.
May I ask - when were the people of England asked that in a referendum?
The majority of people in Northern Ireland voted for the Good Friday Agreement - which affirms Northern Ireland's place in the UK.
As a British patriot, I've always thought that Ulster Unionists should toe the proverbial line, like the Scots. In this case, that means rejoining the power-sharing government. However, the Ulster Unionists won't join any peace-process unless they want peace.
The so-called "Ulster Unionist Party" should pack their bags cos no country wants:
At least Sinn Fein/ IRA are honest most of the time!
Let's face it the
Nationalists want everything, but give nothing back in return.
This Labour Government has effectively bowed down to Sinn Fein/ IRA (same thing) terrorism and sold out the Unionists.
At the end of the day the holding of arms by both sides is illegal and the UK Government should be brave enough to take all guns out of circulation by force.
The British citizens of Northern Ireland did not hesitate to give their lives to defend the UK during the first and second world wars. I am sick to death of little England bigots such as John Dunston suggesting that the residents of Northern Ireland are less deserving of the rule of law than are their fellow citizens resident in England.
And yet again, the Unionists are blamed for threatening "the future of Northern Ireland's power-sharing government". The issue is guns. If other parties to this agreement accepted their responsibilities we wouldn't have the situation where the future of the assembly is in the balance. About time the media starting pointing the finger in the right direction.
Trimble breached the manifesto commitment on NO GUNS NO GOVERNMENT. The electorate showed what they thought of this betrayal at the recent by-election. UUC delegates should order Trimble to leave the Executive or face removal as Party leader.
Since it is clear the IRA are strictly adhering to the "letter of the Good Friday Agreement" The present impasse shows the folly of "private side-agreements" with, in this case a Prime Minister. In the circumstances the unionists can either seek to re-negotiate the GFA or withdraw from the Assembly. I think its a given the nationalists will not allow a renegotiation and I sense many of them now care less and less for the Local Assembly since they know the Republic's input into direct rule will be greater than ever. The other option is to grit their teeth "face down" the rejectionists and make a success of the Assembly.
The best option - grit your teeth and get on with delivering against the people's mandate of two years ago.
John Dunston, Saudi Arabia
I think that they should try harder to make sure that there is decommissioning of weapons. Republicans can't drag their feet any longer as everyone else has moved forward. There has been movement on all other sections on the Agreement but not the one on decommissioning.
Sinn Fein and the
IRA can stall as
often as they like,
and still come back
for another agreement.
But once the Unionists
let Sinn Fein start
to exercise real
power in Northern
Ireland, that's for
Unionists would be
fools to hand even
partial power over
as long as the IRA
isn't keeping its
side of the bargain
and handing in its
weapons. A once a
year "inspection" is
The Ulster Unionists should hold Sinn Fein/IRA and the Labour government to their word. No guns, no government and no Sinn Fein/IRA control of the police.
Peter Murphy, USA
Implement the Pattern report, let the guns quietly rust away and let the British Government support the NI Assembly. Mr. Blair should let the likes of G.Donaldson, who wish to wreck the agreement, be fully aware of the consequences of his actions.
William Hamilton, Canada
Mandelson and the like keep making so many changes to the original Good Friday Agreement that it's not what we voted on now.
What's happened to the links with weapons? The army (I'm ex-forces) have been more or less packed away, the RUC destroyed & terrorists in power, terrorists released from prison & we the public get conned yet again! Where will it stop?
I for one have had enough!
21 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
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17 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Storm brewing on police reforms
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