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Wednesday, 3 October, 2001, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Reid hits out against sectarianism
John Reid at Labour Party Conference
John Reid: "We have started journey from hatred to hope"
Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid has announced new legislation to tackle sectarianism in a speech at the Labour Party Conference.

Giving the closing address at the conference at Brighton on Wednesday, he said if there was to be hatred in Northern Ireland, it must be hatred for sectarianism.

Dr Reid also said paramilitary weapons must be decommissioned and violence must finally be brought to an end in the province.

The Northern Ireland secretary was speaking as the province faces a deepening political and security crisis.

Unionists are moving to exclude republicans from the Northern Ireland executive because of the IRA refusal to disarm.


Those on either side of the divide who can't leave their hatred and bitterness behind, cannot be allowed to blight the lives of others

John Reid
And Dr Reid has been keeping the ceasefires of the main loyalist paramilitary groups "under hourly review" following weeks of street violence in north Belfast and the murder of a journalist at the weekend.

In his address titled, From Hatred to Hope, Dr Reid said sectarianism had shown itself at its most ugly in the loyalist attempts to stop Catholic children getting to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne in north Belfast.

"Those on either side of the divide who can't leave their hatred and bitterness behind, cannot be allowed to blight the lives of others," he said.

"That is why I am announcing today that we will legislate to criminalise those manifestations of hatred, whether they are based on racism or sectarianism."

He also said the paramilitary ceasefires were no longer enough and all the apparatus of terrorism must now be decommissioned.


The apparatus must be dismantled. Violence must be brought to an end for good

John Reid
"Terrorism in Northern Ireland is ethically indefensible, and if terrorism is indefensible, then the apparatus of terrorism is indefensible.

"A ceasefire is not enough - the weapons must be put beyond use. The apparatus must be dismantled. Violence must be brought to an end for good.

"These are the simple terms of democracy."

Dr Reid also appealed to Northern Ireland's politicians to try to find some common ground on which to resolve the problems blocking the province's political process.

But he acknowledged that there was no "quick fix" in the fight against terrorism and in the attempts to find political progress.

He also paid tribute to the retiring SDLP leader John Hume saying "nothing would have been possible" without him.

Trimble-Blair meeting

As Dr Reid was speaking, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble was meeting Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss his plans to exclude Sinn Fein from government.



Mr Blair had returned early to London from the party conference and was believed to have requested the meeting with Mr Trimble.

After their meeting, Mr Trimble said he would like to see the executive continue without Sinn Fein.

He said: "If that is not possible and the administration comes to an end next week, then we want to see a soft landing.

"We have made some exploration of this with the prime minister and we will continue to do so, so that we cause the minimum disruption to government in Northern Ireland."

Mr Trimble also said the government must do everything in its power to clamp down on paramilitary rackets which were funding both republican and loyalist groups.

Exclusion move criticised

Meanwhile, the SDLP and Alliance Party have criticised unionists for trying to exclude Sinn Fein.

In an address to a fringe meeting at the conference on Tuesday night, the SDLP's Brid Rodgers appealed to David Trimble to "think again" about the motion he has tabled at the assembly calling for Sinn Fein's exclusion from the executive because of the IRA's refusal to disarm.

Mr Trimble's motion and a similar rival motion from the Democratic Unionist Party are to be debated on Monday.

The motion is likely to be unsuccessful as it would need to gain cross-party support - including the support of the nationalist SDLP - to be passed.

Mr Trimble has said he will withdraw his ministers from the executive, therefore collapsing the assembly, if the motion fails.

If the powersharing arrangement collapses John Reid is likely to return Northern Ireland to direct rule from Westminster and start a review of the workings of the Good Friday Agreement.


Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

FORUM

SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

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TEXTS/TRANSCRIPTS

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

02 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble executive withdrawal threat
01 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Assembly to debate exclusion motion
23 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble threat to exclude Sinn Fein
24 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Unionists wrangle over SF exclusion
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