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Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams
"Some limited progress has been made"
 real 28k

Saturday, 10 February, 2001, 17:40 GMT
Trimble threatens further sanctions
David Trimble
Trimble threatens further sanctions on Sinn Fein
The Ulster Unionist Party's leader, David Trimble, has indicated that he will step up political sanctions on Sinn Fein if the IRA fails to decommission its weapons.

He was speaking after a meeting of the party's 110-strong executive on Saturday at its headquarters in Belfast.

Mr Trimble said he would continue with his ban on Sinn Fein ministers attending North-South Ministerial Council meetings.

The political process is deadlocked over the issues of demilitarisation, decommissioning and policing.

"The party today has endorsed again the action we took and in particular the reassertion of that sanction which I have made earlier this week," the Ulster Unionist leader said.

Seamus Mallon
Mallon will not support Trimble over ban

"Furthermore, the party has endorsed our proposal, our intention over the course of coming weeks and months to continue that pressure, to sustain that pressure in whatever ways are available to us.

"And indeed, where appropriate, to increase that pressure, which we intend to do.

"Let there be no mistake about it we are determined to achieve both devolution and decommissioning," Mr Trimble said.

Sources at the meeting said Mr Trimble outlined the number of options open to him against Sinn Fein.

These included extending the ban on Sinn Fein ministers to intergovernmental conferences involving the British and Irish governments and all the devolved administrations in the United Kingdom.

The possibility of an exclusion motion in the assembly against Sinn Fein was also raised.

Mr Trimble told reporters to "wait and see" how his party's strategy unfolded over the coming weeks.

'Major victory'

Mr Trimble has refused to authorise the attendance of Education Minister Martin McGuinness and Bairbre de Brun, who holds the health portfolio, at meetings of the North-South Ministerial Council.

However, the ban was deemed unlawful by a High Court judge, in a ruling regarded by republicans as a major political victory.

But in a letter to the Sinn Fein ministers, Mr Trimble focused on a section of the judgement which said that although he had to nominate someone to attend such meetings, he did not have to select a particular individual.

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams: Some limited progress has been made

The Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, criticised the Ulster Unionist leader's letter reinforcing the ban.

He was speaking in Dublin on Saturday where his party's executive, known as the Ard Comhairle, was meeting.

Mr Adams described Mr Trimble's ban as counter productive and said that the letter sent to them had been ''provocative and insulting to the republican and nationalist electorate''.

He said there had been limited progress in talks but warned that if "progress is not made now then it risked being delayed to the point where it never happened".

Mallon criticises Trimble tactics

The Deputy First Minister, Seamus Mallon, has said he will not help Mr Trimble to keep Sinn Fein out of North-South Ministerial Council meetings.

Mr Mallon, who is deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, said the continuing sanctions would do nothing to help the current efforts to break the political stalemate.

"I will abide by the legal judgement which has stated that what Mr Trimble is doing is illegal," Mr Mallon said.

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See also:

06 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Unionists retain ban on Sinn Fein
09 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble: 'Sinn Fein veto to stay'
29 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Arms move 'played-down'
28 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble: Arms move may be close
25 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid starts work in Northern Ireland
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson resigns
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