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The BBC's Denis Murray
"No longer first minister, David Trimble stood emphatically by his decision to resign"
 real 56k

NI First Minister David Trimble
announces his resignation
 real 56k

The BBC's Mark Devenport in Belfast
"If the IRA doesn't come up with any initiative it will be hard for him to maintain political credibility"
 real 56k

UK Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid
"I hope we can change the circumstances so David Trimble can return to the helm"
 real 56k

Former Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon MLA
"I have to say it was a misjudgement on his part"
 real 56k

Ulster Unionist, Jeffrey Donaldson
"From a Unionist perspective this resignation was essential"
 real 28k

Sinn Fein's, Mitchell Macloughlan
"Trimble resignation strikes a blow to devolution"
 real 28k

John Reid
"I undertsand the circumstances that have lead Trimble to take this decision"
 real 28k

Sunday, 1 July, 2001, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Trimble resignation 'risky strategy'
David Trimble: I will return if IRA disarms
David Trimble: I will return if IRA disarms
David Trimble has admitted resigning as Northern Ireland first minister to put pressure on the IRA to disarm is a risky strategy - but one worth taking to further the political process.

Speaking in Thiepval, where he was attending a Battle of the Somme commemoration on Sunday, Mr Trimble said he was not prepared to let republicans undermine the democratic principles of the Good Friday Agreement by holding onto their arms.

The Ulster Unionist leader's resignation came into effect at midnight on Saturday.

He said three years after the Northern Ireland Assembly was established, he could no longer have confidence in the "unfulfilled promises of republicans".

"In May last year, the government with the agreement of the parties set June 2001 as the date for full implementation. That date clearly went past last night," he said.

"It is because I wanted to make sure that there would be no suggestion of the process moving beyond this, without the (arms) issue being properly settled, that I have now ceased to be first minister.

"I am prepared to resume that office, but only if we get this issue settled and we see weapons being put permanently beyond use in accordance with the decommissioning legislation."

'Hope Trimble can return'

Mr Trimble said he regretted that it had been left up to him to put republicans under pressure to disarm, when he felt this was the responsibility of the British and Irish Governments.

Former depity first minister
Seamus Mallon: "Trimble resignation is misjudged"
However, he said: "My objective is to see the Agreement implemented and I think it is worthwhile to take a small risk to achieve that."

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid, who also attended the commemoration, said he regretted, but understood Mr Trimble's reason for resigning.

He said he hoped the conditions could be created for Mr Trimble, "who has contributed so much to the peace process" to return as first minister.

Prime Minister Tony Blair also said he hoped Mr Trimble would soon be reinstated.

Political uncertainty

Mr Trimble's move has thrown the future of Northern Ireland's political process into uncertainty.

Sir Reg Empey
Sir Reg Empey will take over Mr Trimble's duties
He has nominated party colleague and trade minister Sir Reg Empey to fulfil the administrative functions of the office of first minister at the assembly.

The assembly now has six weeks to re-install the Ulster Unionist leader or replace him before the devolved institutions collapse under legislation brought in under the Agreement.

If no deal on arms is found the government could either suspend the assembly or call an assembly election.

Further talks aimed at finding a way through the current impasse over IRA arms, as well as policing and demilitarisation are to be held in the coming week.

However, similar negotiations in recent weeks have failed to change the poitical situation.

Resignation 'misjudged'

Mr Trimble's decision to resign has also put the deputy first minister and SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon, out of the joint office.

On Sunday, Mr Mallon said Mr Trimble's resignation was a misjudgement, and "much ado about very little".

Sinn Fein chairman
Mitchel McLaughlin: "IRA is not a threat"
He said: "I will carry on the functions of deputy first minister, Reg Empey will carry out the functions of first minister, executive meetings will continue, and the assembly will continue until recess."

Mr Mallon added that agreement must be reached before the six week breathing space period elapsed and called on the IRA to start disarming.

Hardline Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: "Far from being much ado about nothing, this is a very serious situation and I welcome Seamus Mallon's call on republicans to decommission which I think is now essential."

Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said Mr Trimble's decision to resign had caused a crisis in the process, which he had long been planning.

He added that it was now the responsibility of the British and Irish Governments to make it clear to everyone that they would fully implement the Agreement.

"The reality is that there was no threat to the peace process from Sinn Fein or the IRA," he said.

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See also:

01 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
NI politicians react to resignation
01 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble plays the waiting game
01 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Arms body 'reports no progress'
01 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble resigns over arms row
08 May 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble threatens to resign
30 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Sir Reg Empey: A profile
28 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Arms deadline coincides with political crisis
29 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Testing the Trimble power vacuum
28 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Blair determined to find NI deal
28 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble warns of assembly collapse
24 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
IRA urged to move on arms
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