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Friday, 26 October, 2001, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Paisley warning on security cutbacks
Unionists have now returned to work at Stormont
Unionists have now returned to work at Stormont
Work on the dismantling of three army installations in Northern Ireland is continuing on Friday amid a fresh row over IRA weapons.

A sangar in County Armagh was demolished on Friday.

Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley has warned against British Army demilitarisation without hard evidence of the IRA putting its arms beyond use.

After meeting the man who verified the IRA's actions, Mr Paisley said there was not a shred of evidence that republicans had destroyed their weapons.

He said the head of the decommissioning body, Canadian General John de Chastelain, was unable to tell him where the act had taken place, how many weapons were involved and whether it was part of a process of disarmament.

Accused

After the meeting in Belfast on Thursday night, Mr Paisley accused Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble of an "act of treachery" in accepting the general's word that the IRA had started to decommission its arms.


Jeffrey Donaldson: Critic of the Good Friday Agreement

"The answers tonight illustrate how far in an act of treachery to the law-abiding citizens, David Trimble is prepared to go to keep the charade of the assembly in place.

"Today, the army had to publicly take down their own armaments for the defence and safety of Ulster people," he said.

"And what have we? We are told now that the British Government and Mr Trimble will settle for a secret place, we don't know where it was, and for a number of arms, we don't know how many."

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Paisley reappointed two ministers to the power-sharing executive after the Ulster Unionist ministers returned to their posts.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern said the DUP's re-nomination of its two ministers to the executive was "a clear signal that they really want to see the institutions work".

Mr Ahern also said the political representatives of loyalist paramilitaries now had "to try and get authority back and turn people away from all the sectarianism that has been going on".

'Conditional return'

The five unionist ministers resigned last week over the failure of the IRA to begin decommissioning.

David Trimble also faces difficulties within his own party.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said any return by Ulster Unionists to power-sharing in Northern Ireland should be conditional on further decommissioning.

Mr Donaldson, a critic of the Good Friday Agreement, said the IRA should make clear its intention to proceed to full disarmament by February next year.

He said: "I haven't heard the IRA say any of these things.

"The return to government should be conditional upon a commitment to further progress."

Demilitarisation

Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen has said setting further deadlines or pre-conditions in the peace process would be a mistake.


Ian Paisley: No evidence of IRA arms move

He said the job of the politicians was to get on with the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Meanwhile, work has been continuing on the demolition of two mountain-top lookout posts in the republican heartland of south Armagh.

Click here for a map of the key area

The dismantling of a super-sangar (lookout post) at neighbouring Newtownhamilton police station was completed on Friday.

The army is now concentrating on dismantling the base at Magherafelt, County Londonderry.

The progress in the peace process led Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid to pledge a progressive rolling programme of "security normalisation", reducing troop numbers from 13,000 and military installations as the paramilitary threat diminished.

But RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan has warned that although the IRA had come closer than ever before, he could not say the "war is over".

Demilitarisation was a key demand from Sinn Fein during discussions before the breakthrough.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said on Thursday that there needed to be more demilitarisation.

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Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen:
"Further deadlines or pre-conditions in the peace process would be a mistake"

Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

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SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

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See also:

24 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble's ministers to return
23 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Tony Blair's statement in full
24 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
US congratulates IRA on 'historic' decision
24 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Bush welcomes IRA arms move
24 Oct 01 | World
World press review
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