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Wednesday, 24 October, 2001, 20:16 GMT 21:16 UK
Trimble's ministers to return
Ministers have been re-nominated back to the executive
Ministers have been re-nominated back to the executive
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has re-nominated his party colleagues to re-take their seats as ministers in Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive.

It follows confirmation by the IRA on Tuesday that it had put some of its arms beyond use.

Mr Trimble's move heads off a possible suspension of the political institutions, a move likely to have been taken by the British Government to avert the collapse of devolution.

Devolution could have fallen because three Ulster Unionist and two Democratic Unionist Party ministers last week withdrew from the executive, due to the absence of IRA decommissioning.

But Mr Trimble told the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon that he had earlier nominated his party's ministers back into the executive.

Sir Reg Empey, Sam Foster and Michael McGimpsey have now taken, and signed, the pledge of office.

David Trimble has delayed ministerial withdrawals
David Trimble: Made announcement in response to IRA move

Mr Trimble said the move was in response to the "important" step taken in Northern Ireland.

He said it was "not the end of the road by any means, but an important step" and was taken in the "interests of good government".

Mr Trimble also said it was "entirely without prejudice" to the decision which will be taken by his party's ruling executive when it meets on Saturday.

The UUP leader called the meeting to ask his party's executive to approve the re-constituting of the power-sharing regime.

He needs the backing of his executive to ensure his move back into government with republicans is party policy, forcing critics of the policy to fall into line.

People

If the executive approve this action, a first and deputy first minister could be re-elected next week.

The nationalist SDLP has confirmed that it will nominate its leader elect, Mark Durkan, to the post of deputy first minister.

If elected, Mr Durkan would replace Seamus Mallon. The nomination needs the support of a majority of unionists and nationalists.

Meanwhile, the DUP leader Ian Paisley has given a broad hint that his ministers would return to the executive if Ulster Unionist ministers re-take their seats.

Speaking on Wednesday, he said: "My ministers will not be leaving their seats to Sinn Fein or the SDLP."

John de Chastelain: Head of the decommissioning body
John de Chastelain: Head of the decommissioning body

He added: "We will keep the seats given to us, not by the British Government, but by the people."

The IRA leadership confirmed on Tuesday that a scheme agreed with the decommissioning body in August to put weapons "completely and verifiably beyond use" had been implemented.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has paid tribute to the Sinn Fein leadership for "the boldness" of their move which led to the IRA statement on decommissioning.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern said there was "no doubting the significance and importance of this move".

Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said it was a courageous decision by the IRA.

Gregory Campbell of the Democratic Unionist Party said people needed to "look beyond IRA rhetoric" and called for all of the group's weapons to be destroyed.


Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

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See also:

23 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
IRA in arms breakthrough
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