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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
Motion passed on sectarianism
Police and soldiers patrol the Short Strand area
Assembly debated ongoing sectarian violence
The Northern Ireland Assembly has approved a motion condemning republican and loyalist sectarianism and calling on all parties to support the police.

Sinn Fein had tabled a motion calling on the assembly to reject sectarianism in all forms - and commit itself to tackling the issue.

Meanwhile, a meeting between Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has broken up after nearly two hours.
Gerry Adams: Requested meeting
Gerry Adams: Requested meeting

Neither side made any comment as they left the meeting at Stormont, which Ulster Unionists sources described as a frank exchange of views.

It is understood the leaders reviewed the events of the summer, but that the talks were inconclusive.

Sinn Fein said it hoped to arrange further meetings with Mr Trimble.

Speaking in Dublin on Tuesday night, American Special Envoy Ambassador Richard Haass said he had no problem with the idea of somebody monitoring the paramilitary ceasefires if it was acceptable to the two governments and the Northern Ireland parties.

Mr Haass made his remarks after meeting the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

The Irish Government said it was still discussing the idea of somebody monitoring the ceasefires.

Dublin is aware that Sinn Fein is opposed to the proposal which the Ulster Unionists and the British Government are keener on.

Earlier during the assembly debate, a Northern Ireland unionist assembly member was ordered to leave the chamber.

The Northern Ireland Unionist Paddy Roche was one of a number of assembly members who accused Sinn Fein of hypocrisy over their sponsorship of a motion opposing sectarian violence and calling for practical action to tackle it.


It does not face the uncomfortable truth that the major drivers of sectarian tension very often have been the activities of paramilitaries

Esmond Birnie
UUP

But Mr Roche went further than most, accusing motion proposer Gerry Kelly of being a convicted murderer.

The Sinn Fein assembly member was convicted of conspiracy to cause an explosion in London in 1973, but not murder.

He pointed this out, and when Mr Roche refused to withdraw his comment, the deputy speaker ordered him to leave the chamber.

'Everyone to blame'

Both the main unionist parties and the SDLP had tabled amendments to Sinn Fein's motion.

Eventually, the assembly backed an Ulster Unionist motion which rejected what it described as republican and loyalist sectarianism and called on all parties to actively cooperate with the police in securing evidence against those involved in violence in breach of their ceasefires.
Gerry Kelly
Gerry Kelly: "There have been hundreds of gun and bomb attacks"

Ulster Unionist MLAs succeeded by 47 votes to 33 in their amendment to the Sinn Fein motion.

The UUP's Esmond Birnie said it fell prey "to a fallacy".

"That fallacy is in a sense everyone is to blame, so no-one in particular is to blame," he said.

"It does not face the uncomfortable truth that the major drivers of sectarian tension very often have been the activities of paramilitaries."

'Documented evidence'

Gerry Kelly said the Sinn Fein motion should have been easy to pass.

"In the last two years there have been six people killed by loyalist attacks - four Catholics and two Protestants who were mistaken for Catholics," he said.

There has been ongoing sectarian violence in parts of north and east Belfast over recent months.

There have also been several sectarian murders since the beginning of the year.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Mark Devenport:
"Both the main unionist parties and the SDLP had tabled amendments to Sinn Fein's motion"
BBC NI's Martina Purdy:
"During the debate on Tuesday, a Northern Ireland unionist assembly member was ordered to leave the chamber"
See also:

17 Oct 02 | N Ireland
20 Aug 02 | N Ireland
11 Aug 02 | N Ireland
08 Aug 02 | N Ireland
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