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Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
'No half-way house' for paramilitaries
UUP leader David Trimble
Mr Trimble says government needs to instill confidence
An Ulster Unionist Party delegation has pressed the prime minister to take action against paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.

UUP leader David Trimble led a delegation for the talks which come a day before meetings between Tony Blair, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and the pro-Agreement parties at Hillsborough.

Speaking after the meeting at Downing Street on Wednesday, David Trimble said: "What he has to do tomorrow is to make it clear to the people of Northern Ireland that this government is determined to get on top of this violence."


Government needs to make it clear it is determined to get on top of this violence

David Trimble
Unionist leader

He said Mr Blair had to give confidence to the community by showing that the present situation "where paramilitaries in general and republicans in particular think they can keep this half-way house - where they are ostensibly on ceasefire but actually involved in violence at street level - that that is not acceptable".

"The short-term objective for him is to deal with the ongoing violence that has been happening in Belfast and elsewhere over the course of the last few weeks and months," said Mr Trimble.

Local communities

Mr Blair's official spokesman said he did not expect Thursday's meeting "to produce any instant initiatives".

"We all recognise that, as has happened at this time for many years, there are some nasty confrontations going on in some local areas in Northern Ireland and nobody is complacent.

"Nobody underestimates either the strain on local communities and on the police as people try to get a grip on these situations.

"Equally, I think it is important to recognise that the problems are localised.

"The prime minister is anxious that local communities do get a grip on the situation."

The Northern Ireland Secretary said the meeting had been a "useful and full exchange of views".

"Everyone knows the issues that have got to be addressed, put confidence back into the process and give it a new dynamism," said John Reid.

The talks come against a background of deep discontent in the Ulster Unionist Party.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair: "Anxious local communities get a grip"
Unionists have complained that the government has failed to enforce the Mitchell Principles which require political parties to be committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.

While the government has insisted there is no halfway house between violence and democracy - unionists say the government is turning a blind eye to ceasefire breaches.

Ulster Unionists cite allegations that the IRA was involved in gun-running in Colombia, street violence in Belfast and the break in at Belfast's police headquarters in March.

The Ulster Unionist leadership wants the government to acknowledge there is a law and order problem, involving both loyalist and republican paramilitaries.

Ulster Unionists are also demanding that Sinn Fein, as members of the power-sharing executive, be held to account for any breaches of the IRA ceasefire.

Sinn Fein, however, said there was no crisis in the process, that the crisis was within unionism and its attitude to the Good Friday Agreement.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
UUP leader David Trimble:
"Does the Prime Minister not realise there is a clear obligation on him?"
BBC NI's Martina Purdy
"The government has insisted there is no halfway house between violence and democracy"
See also:

30 Jun 02 | N Ireland
19 Jun 02 | N Ireland
27 Jun 02 | N Ireland
16 Jun 02 | N Ireland
29 Jun 02 | N Ireland
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