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Saturday, 15 September, 2001, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Repay US with peace urges Mallon
The search for survivors and bodies continues in New York
Search for survivors and bodies continues in New York
The best way for Northern Ireland to repay the United States for its political support is by making the peace process work, acting deputy first minister Seamus Mallon has said.

Speaking on Saturday, Mr Mallon said the events in the US this week could have a profound impact on the situation here, in relation to the issue of weapons.

He said it was possible that Tuesday's attacks in New York and Washington had changed things in Northern Ireland, suggesting that attitudes to groups holding illegal weapons were changing.

Northern Ireland's political institutions could collapse by next week unless there is progress on IRA decommissioning.

"Time is short, the issues are clear, there is no doubt about what has to happen and I still happen to believe we must have hope that that will happen," said Mr Mallon.

Attitudes

"Now, if we are going to go by the past then there isn't much basis for that hope.

"But maybe things have changed in terms of attitudes."
Seamus Mallon
Mallon says attitudes on arms may have changed

"Maybe people throughout the world might be asking themselves in relation to the problems here, why it is necessary to hold on to the weapons of terrorism when in effect there is no longer going to be that type of violence and that type of terrorism?

"Why does anyone need these weapons in a situation of peace and growing stability?"

Mr Mallon, the SDLP deputy leader, said that was the question that would keep coming to the fore and would be "impossible to answer with any logic or any validity".

'Fitting tribute'

Speaking in Dublin on Saturday, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams seemed to echo Mr Mallon's words.

He said said the "most fitting tribute" the Irish people could make in memory of the victims of the US attacks was to make the peace process work.

Mr Adams made the comments after a meeting of Sinn Fein's ruling executive, the ard comhairle, in the Irish capitol.

The West Belfast MP said his party extended its sincerest condolences to the American people and the families of the dead and injured.

Prayer Service

Northern Ireland Secretary Dr John Reid attended an interdenominational prayer service at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast on Saturday.


US Consul and NI Secretary at prayer service
The US Consul in Belfast, Barbara Stephenson, joined local politicians at the service at which Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames led hundreds of Catholics and Protestants in united prayer.

The service was conducted by the Cathedral Dean, Houston McKelvey and Monsignor Tom Toner of Belfast's St Peter's Catholic Cathedral.

Books of condolence were opened in the two cathedrals and will later be sent to the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals in New York.

"We're simply offering our people in both cathedrals and the wider community the chance to express their condolences with our partner cathedrals," said Dean McKelvey.

The choir from St Anne's sang in both the New York cathedrals when they visited the city in July.

They also paid a visit the World Trade Center.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Monsignor Tom Toner from St Peter's in Belfast
"Grief is universal and American tears and Irish tears are the same"
Acting Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon
"If we are going to go by the past then there isn't much basis for that hope"
See also:

13 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Families fear loved ones dead
14 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
NI mourns terror attack victims
13 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Belfast paramedic recalls US terror
12 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Survivors' family die in tragic twist
14 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Belfast mosque attacked as fears rise
14 Sep 01 | Americas
Nations grieve for US terror victims
14 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair pledges action against terror
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