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Sunday, 22 September, 2002, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Reid appeals to NI parties
Talks on devolved government's future are planned
Talks on devolved government's future are planned
Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid has said everyone involved in the peace process must remember what is at stake.

Dr Reid made the appeal on Sunday following the Ulster Unionist Party's announcement it had set a deadline of 18 January by which republicans must end paramilitary violence and prove they are committed to peace.

The Ulster Unionist Council decided at a meeting on Saturday that the party's ministers would resign from the Northern Ireland Executive, collapsing the power-sharing government, if by that date there was no move by republicans.

In a BBC interview Dr Reid said: "It doesn't surprise me that in a huge historic project like this, that the matter of trust and reassurance will continually raise itself.

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid
John Reid: 'Consider what it at stake'

"I just hope that everyone will remember not only what they need for their side of the community, but what we would all lose if this process falters."

Dr Reid said the government would hold consultations with the political parties and the Irish Government soon.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble told the BBC's On the Record programme on Sunday that there was no reason why IRA decommissioning and the disbanding of the IRA could not be completed by 18 January.

"It could be that the people in the IRA move unequivocally into Sinn Fein and devote themselves purely to democratic means," he said.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
David Trimble: 'IRA disbandment is inevitable'

Mr Trimble said Sinn Fein should have been preparing the IRA for the "inevitable" because he said: "This process cannot be sustained as things stand at the moment."

The Northern Ireland first minister announced his new two-facet strategy which he said would put pressure on republicans to end their involvement in violence, following a compromise with party hardliner Jeffrey Donaldson at Saturday's Ulster Unionist Council meeting.

He said the party would impose the immediate sanction of ending Ulster Unionist participation in North-South Ministerial Council meetings in which Sinn Fein was involved.

Over the next three month his party would meet Prime Minister Tony Blair and initiate talks with the other Northern Ireland parties to "see if there is a viable basis for future government in Northern Ireland".

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said the decision of the Ulster Unionist Council was "regrettable and a cause for concern".

Gerry Adams: 'Unionists cannot stop change'
Gerry Adams: 'Unionists cannot stop change'

The new Ulster Unionist strategy was also greeted with dismay by Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the Ulster Unionist Party had signed up to a "wreckers' charter" and that the government must not concede any more concessions to unionists by allowing them to halt the political process.

SDLP leader and Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan said the Ulster Unionists had adopted an anti-Agreement agenda which was jeopardising devolution.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader, Peter Robinson, dismissed the Ulster Unionist strategy as a stunt fuelled by election fears.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid:
"I understand the need for reassurance on both sides"
The BBC's Denis Murray
"The Ulster Unionists have adopted a hardline action-plan"
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
"The government has taken unionism for granted"
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams:
"This is a victory for the 'no-men' of unionism"
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:

21 Sep 02 | N Ireland
21 Sep 02 | N Ireland
19 Sep 02 | N Ireland
19 Sep 02 | N Ireland
21 Sep 02 | N Ireland
02 Nov 01 | N Ireland
27 Oct 00 | N Ireland
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