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Saturday, 13 October, 2001, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Loyalist party meets in Belfast
Progressive Unionist Party is linked to the UVF
Progressive Unionist Party is linked to the UVF
A leading loyalist has said that IRA decommissioning on its own would not be enough to gain the confidence of unionists in Northern Ireland.

The Progressive Unionist Party's David Ervine was addressing the party's annual conference in east Belfast on Saturday.

Mr Ervine told the 85 delegates that there would be scepticism over the IRA's motives if decommissioning took place.

The PUP is linked to the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force.

"Will it (decommissioning) be done for the Americans following the September 11 attacks?" Mr Ervine said.

"Or will they say that it's done for the people of the island?"

Ceasefires

The conference was being held the day after Northern Ireland Secretary Dr John Reid ruled that the government no longer recognised the ceasefires of two other loyalist paramilitary groups.

Dr John Reid
Questions over John Reid's decision
The decision followed a security briefing on the Ulster Defence Association's involvement in street violence in north Belfast.

And the Loyalist Volunteer Force was linked to the murder of a journalist in Lurgan two weeks ago.

But Mr Ervine questioned whether the move by the government would draw the groups back from violence or lead to more trouble.

"The question is, will this work? Or will we have a reaction or recoil?

"Will there be a reasonable rethink by these organisations that says we had better move back to the position of ceasefire?"

Political crisis

The conference was in a background of political uncertainty, with Northern Ireland's power sharing institutions facing collapse.

David Ervine PUP: Unhappy at progress in talks
David Ervine: Crisis all around us
Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble has said he intends to withdraw his party's ministers from government this week, a move which is likely to force the secretary of state to suspend the assembly.

The PUP's two assembly members, Mr Ervine and Billy Hutchinson, backed a motion by David Trimble to exclude Sinn Fein from the assembly so that devolved government could continue without Sinn Fein.

But that motion failed because it did not get the required support of nationalist parties in the assembly.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Ervine said: "There is crisis all around us.

"The question is whether we can keep our heads when everybody about us is losing theirs."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
PUP spokesman David Ervine
"The mood of this conference is one of dismay, anger and frustration"

Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

FORUM

SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

TALKING POINT

TEXTS/TRANSCRIPTS

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

09 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
No sign of deal after intensive talks
09 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Blair: NI parties must agree deal
09 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
PMs optimistic on talks progress
07 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid plays down talks hopes
07 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Is Agreement beyond repair?
06 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Parties grandstand before talks
06 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Talks continue over political deadlock
02 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Republicans must 'suffer' - Trimble
02 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Arms body: No progress on weapons
01 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
NI politicians react to resignation
01 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble resigns over arms row
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