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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 07:55 GMT 08:55 UK
Unionists to examine violence monitor
Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Plan was greeted with mixed political reaction
A senior Ulster Unionist has said the appointment of a violence monitor will come under scrutiny at a meeting of the party's ruling council at the weekend.

The plans for independent monitoring of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland were announced by the secretary of state on Wednesday.

The Law and Order Action group will involve the attorney general, the chief constable and the lord chancellor's department.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster on Thursday, Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said the group had an important role to play.


We want to know what the government is now going to do in respect of the broken ceasefires that have already occurred

Jeffrey Donaldson UUP MP

"It is to make absolutely plain that wild west behaviour will not be tolerated," he said.

"It is also to see that everyone involved, right across the law and order and justice system, is operating together in a seamless unit aimed at getting better product at the end of it."

However, Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he did not think the move would go any way to addressing the extent of the problem of paramilitary violence in the province.

"We don't need someone to tell us the level of violence that is on the streets, we know that already," he said.

"John Reid has turned a blind eye to the IRA and to the loyalist paramilitaries and what they have been doing.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson
Jeffrey Donaldson: "We want to know what the government is going to do"

"We want to know what the government is now going to do in respect of the broken ceasefires that have already occurred."

Dr Reid said the level of violence, including that committed by paramilitaries, remained a matter of "serious concern".

He said he was still considering who to appoint but hoped to make a formal announcement soon.

The independent auditor is expected to issue quarterly reports, with the first to be delivered before Christmas.

However, the political and legal decision on whether a ceasefire has been broken or not will rest with Dr Reid.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams described plans for a violence monitor as a "distraction".

He was speaking after he and party colleagues held an hour -long meeting with the prime minister and Dr Reid in Downing Street on Wednesday.

Dr Reid denied the plan was designed to help the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble ahead of the weekend meeting of his party's ruling council.

He said an independent monitor was in the public interest.

Dr John Reid: Secretary of state
Dr John Reid: "Wild west behaviour will not be tolerated"

The main objector to the plan has been Sinn Fein who said inviting an outsider in to scrutinise the ceasefires would not benefit the political process.

The SDLP opposed a monitor being appointed, but said now that it was going ahead, the British and Irish governments should appoint monitors to look at paramilitary activity on both sides of the border.

The Ulster Unionists and Democratic Unionist Party welcomed the measure as a way of putting pressure on republicans in particular.

The Alliance Party is taking credit for proposing the idea.

Last year, Dr Reid declared the ceasefires of the largest loyalist organisation the Ulster Defence Association and the Loyalist Volunteer Force invalid.

Since then, loyalists close to the UDA leadership have met Dr Reid.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The UUP's Jeffrey Donaldson:
"We need to know what the government is going to do regarding violence"
Secretary of State Dr John Reid:
"Wild west behaviour will not be tolerated"
Find out more about the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process

Devolution crisis

Analysis

Background

SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

18 Sep 02 | N Ireland
30 Aug 02 | N Ireland
24 Jul 02 | N Ireland
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