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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 06:53 GMT
Trimble dismisses IRA statement
IRA committed to re-engaging with the de Chastelain Decommissioning Commission
IRA committed to re-engaging with de Chastelain Commission
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has dismissed the IRA's statement renewing its commitment to weapons decommissioning.

On Tuesday the republican paramilitary organisation said it was committed to discussions with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning headed by General John de Chastelain.

The statement said the IRA was still prepared to put its weapons "completely and verifiably" beyond use as it offered last May - but not on British or unionist terms.

However, it said this could not happen until the government honoured commitments it gave at that time on policing reforms and demilitarisation.

David Trimble
David Trimble: "IRA statement is complaint to government on demilitarisation"
But briefing journalists in London on Wednesday night, ahead of next week's visit by US President Bill Clinton, Mr Trimble dismissed the IRA statement as a complaint against the government over demilitarisation.

Republican demands for demilitarisation in the province were not a valid excuse for the IRA to fail to meet its promise to begin the actual process of putting arms beyond use, he said.

Mr Trimble said to relax security in south Armagh, where the dissident republican Real IRA was known to be active, would be foolish.

'No pressure'

The first minister said he felt under no pressure, other than his desire to make the Good Friday Agreement work, in the run up to President Clinton's visit.

He said he hoped the involvement of the US administration would help resolve the current difficulties in the peace process.

But he denied claims that careful political choreography was going on in the background to guarantee progress in time for Mr Clinton's visit.

Mr Trimble said without a major breakthrough on the issue of paramilitary arms, his position would not change.

The Ulster Unionist leader returned to Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive in June after the British and Irish Governments put together a package for progressing the Good Friday Agreement, based on the May offer by the IRA to begin a process towards putting its guns "completely and verifiably beyond use".

Contentious issues

The Ulster Unionists feel republicans are threatening the process by failing to deliver paramilitary weapons decommissioning, and are imposing sanctions on Sinn Fein, by withholding authority to attend meetings of the North-South Ministerial Council.

However, Sinn Fein feels that the British Government has not delivered on its commitments on demilitarisation.

Sinn Fein has also rejected the Police NI Act reforming Northern Ireland policing as an acceptable blueprint for a new police service that would be acceptable to the whole community.

The nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party has so far reserved its judgement on the Police NI Act, and hopes to gain assurances on the government's implementation plan for the reforms.

Meanwhile, British and Irish Government officials are trying to work out a rescue package to avert another crisis in the peace process, against an unofficial deadline of 15 December.

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See also:

05 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
IRA renews arms pledge
05 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
Peace process waiting game
03 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
Trimble appeal for Clinton support
30 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Clinton may get new peacemaker role
02 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
Devolution's turbulent year
02 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
NI policing plan 'being revised'
05 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
IRA statement in full
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