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Sunday, March 21, 1999 Published at 01:05 GMT


Trimble accused from all sides

No surrender: David Triumble says he will not give in on decommissioning

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has accused Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble of bringing the peace process to the "cliff's edge" over paramilitary decommissioning.

The Search for Peace
Mr Trimble was heckled by some members of his own Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) on Saturday.

His speech to the UUP Council has received criticism from both sides of the political divide at the end of a turbulent week which has seen two murders and rioting return to the province

Mr Adams accused Mr Trimble of inflexibility while some Unionists said he was fudging the issue in a display of weakness.

John Thorne: "For Mr Trimble no party meeting can be routine"
The speech was given a standing ovation before the party leader was questioned from the floor on decommissioning.

He insisted that a "credible beginning" to the arms handover was needed before Sinn Fein took their seats in government.

Several delegates demanded a definition of how many weapons that meant, but Mr Trimble refused to answer.

There were cries of "fudge" and "shame" before the dissent was drowned out by God Save the Queen.

David Trimble's speech to the Ulster Unionist Ruling Council
Former Belfast High Sheriff James Kirkpatrick complained afterwards: "It's a disgrace that the national anthem was used to stop important debate within unionism".

Mr Trimble said later he had deliberately chosen to focus on the future rather than decommissioning, telling the delegates they were "tantalisingly close" to a new Northern Ireland.

There was "no alternative" to the Good Friday Agreement, he said, but it depended on full implementation including decommissioning.

"Society throughout the British Isles does not want and will not tolerate a return to violence," he said.

Adams demands concilliation

The continuing demands were not welcomed by Mr Adams, who said Sinn Fein were prepared to be "flexible and positive".

[ image: Gerry Adams: UUP against spirit and terms of agreement]
Gerry Adams: UUP against spirit and terms of agreement
He believed this was in contrast to the UUP, who were maintaining an "absolutist position which is based against the spirit and the terms of the agreement".

The SF president was pleased at Mr Trimble's assertion that there was no alternative to the agreement but repeated that he could not personally deliver on decommissioning.

Mr Adams was also disappointed that Mr Trimble did not signal that he would meet the nationalist Garvaghy Road residents protesting about Orange marches in this area of the First Minister's contituency.

He added that the week's murders of the Garvaghy Road residents' lawyer Rosemary Nelson and loyalist Frankie Curry should spur politicians on to find a solution to the difficulties.

[ image: Frankie Curry's Belfast funeral]
Frankie Curry's Belfast funeral
Saturday saw several hundred people attended the funeral of Mr Curry, shot in the Shankill area of Belfast on Wednesday.

Mr Trimble also came in for criticism from Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader Peter Robinson.

Far from being inflexible, Mr Robinson said the party's leader had been weak on decommissioning and left Unionists "prey to an insatiable Provo appetite by a gutless, spineless government".

"The failure of David Trimble to require decommissioning as part of the agreement is his Achilles heel," he told a meeting in Omagh.

Concessions were all one way, he complained.

"The majority of their prisoners have been released in spite of their heinous crimes.

"They stand at the door of a Northern Ireland cabinet and still have not delivered a single bullet."

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