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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 18:53 GMT 19:53 UK
Unionist welcome for Adams speech
Michael McGimpsey:
Michael McGimpsey: "What we need now is action"
A leading Ulster Unionist has described the decommissioning speech by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams as "promising".

A first move from the IRA to begin decommissioning is believed to be imminent after a statement from Mr Adams that he had recommended a "ground-breaking" step on the arms issue.

The UUP's Michael McGimpsey, who until last week was the Northern Ireland arts and culture minister, said: "So far these are words and we have been at pains to state that words are not enough - we want to see action.

"However, it would be begrudging of me not to state that there are promising parts in this statement that may be heralding further steps.

"At this point in time nothing has actually happened in terms of actions - what we have here is the appearance of a promise - we must wait to see further developments."

'Irrevocable'

There was no immediate reaction from Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble.


This is a difficult issue for Irish republicans

Martin McGuinness Sinn Fein

The power-sharing government at Stormont faces suspension later this week when the resignation of five unionist ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive becomes irrevocable.

They quit the executive because of the IRA's refusal to give up weapons.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness refused to speculate on when an IRA response would come.

John Hume: Need for a positive response
John Hume: Need for a positive response

"I am content to await the response of the IRA and think all of us should be content to do that," he said during a press conference in New York.

"This is a difficult issue for Irish republicans. At this critical moment I think we have to listen to our words when we ask republicans to remain united, to remain behind the Sinn Fein leadership.

"I'm prepared to wait. I'm prepared to wait and hope that our endeavours will be successful."

Northern Ireland Secretary of State John Reid and Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen both welcomed the statement.

Mr Cowen said:"The government welcomes this statement - it is a very encouraging one.


Let's see what the style and nature of this decommissioning is

David Ervine Progressive Unionist Party

"It offers the hope that maybe we have at last the possibility breaking the impasse that has thus far frustrated the achievement of the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

"It is a statement which we welcome and we hope now that the call will bring about the necessary action for the de Chastelain Commission to be able to report positively to the governments and the parties."

'Transparency'

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Ian Paisley, rejected Mr Adams' comments.

"There is nothing in it. There is no talk about the end of the battle, the war is over, no talk of the army giving up its purposes," he said.

Ian Paisley:
Ian Paisley: "I am calling for something transparent"

"I am calling for something transparent, something that can be inspected and seen by the ordinary men and women who have born the brunt."

Alliance Party leader David Ford welcomed Mr Adams' statement.

He said: "Real action is now needed within a short time. The hope engendered by this statement will be useless unless it is followed by IRA action to remove weapons from use to the satisfaction of the IICD Independent International Commission on Decommissioning."

The Progressive Unionist Party's David Ervine said it was now time for the IRA to say "the war is over".

Mr Ervine, whose party is linked to the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force, said: "Everything the IRA has done up to now has been begrudging so let's see what the style and nature of this (decommissioning) is."

However, he said he had no evidence that loyalists would make a reciprocal gesture on arms.

"If there are positive moves by republicans to save the process then maybe people can think about what they can do to assist the process."

'Positive response'

SDLP leader John Hume said he hoped there would be a positive response from the IRA.

He added: "I hope David Trimble will also respond positively by ensuring that all the institutions remain in place and by ensuring that they work together to build a new society."

David Ervine:
David Ervine: "The IRA has been begrudging so far"

Women's Coalition Assembly member Monica McWilliams said the overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland desired decommissioning.

"The people have asked for a confidence building measure and Adams acknowledges that the IRA have the power to transform the current stalemate.

"Progress for Northern Ireland demands ground-breaking actions but also a ground-breaking response."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Denis Murray
"It will be a significant breakthrough if the IRA make a move on decommissioning"
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
"Everyone committed to a new future should play their part fully"

Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

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See also:

22 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Adams urges IRA action over arms
22 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
SF link to Colombia arrest man
22 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Talks intensify as deadline nears
20 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Will IRA move soon on arms?
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