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Tuesday, 18 June, 2002, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
NI process 'in danger of collapse'
The Stormont Assembly
Ulster Unionists met Dr Reid at Stormont
The Northern Ireland political process is in danger of collapse if unionist confidence is not immediately rebuilt, Ulster Unionist Fred Cobain has said.

He said unionist doubts about the commitment of the republican movement to peace need to be removed quickly.

He was speaking after 90 minutes of talks at Stormont with Secretary of State John Reid on Tuesday.

Mr Cobain and four other members of the Ulster Unionist assembly team went to see the secretary of state, without their party leader David Trimble, at Castle Buildings.


We need to see their commitment demonstrated over the next number of weeks or I think the process is in danger of collapse

Fred Cobain
Ulster Unionist

There has been unionist pressure for sanctions against republicans over recent alleged IRA activity in Colombia and allegations of IRA involvement in the security breach at police headquarters in Belfast.

At the weekend, Mr Trimble said he would consider resigning again as first minister to make progress with the Good Friday Agreement.

Some members of his party have been calling for a withdrawal from the power-sharing executive if the British Government does not move to exclude Sinn Fein from the executive.

'Trying to explain'

Mr Cobain said: "We need to see their commitment demonstrated over the next number of weeks or I think the process is in danger of collapse."

He said those who had supported the Good Friday Agreement had been led to believe paramilitary activity would end.

"That's not happening. Paramilitaries are as strong today as they were five years ago and that's what we are trying to explain to the secretary of state.

Fred Cobain:
Fred Cobain: "Doesn't add confidence to process"

"People in the unionist community are worried that what the Provisionals are doing is talking peace and preparing for war. That doesn't add confidence to the process."

Newry and Armagh assembly member Danny Kennedy said the government had political responsibilities it had to live up to.

"I don't think he is left in any doubt as to the resolve of the Ulster Unionist Party which is determined to see these matters dealt with in a proper way," he said.

On Monday, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble held a 45-minute meeting at Stormont.

Both men said it had been a positive meeting, with Mr Trimble describing it as "workman like" and Mr Adams describing it as "useful".

Relations between the two party leaders are known to be cool.

They discussed the ongoing problems in the political process and the recent initiative by loyalist paramilitaries to begin a "no first-strike policy".

See also:

17 Jun 02 | N Ireland
16 Jun 02 | N Ireland
15 Jun 02 | N Ireland
13 Jun 02 | N Ireland
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