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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 18:03 GMT 19:03 UK
Trimble dismisses 'anti-Agreement' claims
Devolved institutions will fall unless deadline is met
Devolved institutions will fall unless deadline is met
The Ulster Unionist leader has dismissed claims he has become anti-Agreement after his party threatened to collapse the Northern Ireland Executive unless the IRA disbands.

David Trimble announced on Saturday that UUP ministers would resign from the power-sharing government, if republicans have not proved they are committed to peace by 18 January.

Nationalists have condemned the threat with SDLP leader Mark Durkan saying the process was now in crisis.

He accused Mr Trimble of "wearing a sandwich board for Jeffrey Donaldson and the anti-Agreement position".

David Trimble
David Trimble: Dismissed "anti-Agreement" claims

But Mr Trimble said: "To describe me and my colleagues as being anti-Agreement is just plain poppy-cock.

"I made it clear to the council when we spoke on Saturday that the objective is to achieve full implementation (of the Agreement) and if the party is seen as going on an anti-Agreement kick, then this is all going to fail."

Mr Durkan wants to meet the UUP leader and the other party leaders to discuss the future.

At Saturday's meeting of the UUP's ruling council, hardliners pressed Mr Trimble to adopt a tougher line against Sinn Fein following claims of republican paramilitary activity.

Mr Trimble said his party would also impose the immediate sanction on republicans of ending Ulster Unionist participation in North-South Ministerial Council meetings in which Sinn Fein was involved.

Mark Durkan : SDLP leader
Mark Durkan: "Mr Trimble is wearing a sandwich board for the anti-Agreement position"

He said Sinn Fein should have been preparing the IRA for the "inevitable".

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness accused the Ulster Unionist Party of "assaulting" the Good Friday Agreement.

"What we are witnessing now is a full-frontal assault on the Good Friday Agreement by both the UUP and the DUP and it is about denying equality to the people we represent," he said.

"It is about totally destroying power-sharing and the institutions established under the terms of the Agreement."

Meanwhile, the Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley called for the assembly to be dissolved so elections could be held immediately.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said the UUP deadline was solely in the interest of the party.

"The activity at the weekend was entirely designed for one purpose it was not to save Ulster it was not to save the union it was simply to save the Ulster Unionist Party," he said.

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid is to invite the political parties to meetings aimed at defusing tension over the decision to set a deadline for peace.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Mark Devenport:
"The new hardline position has been widely criticised"
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness:
"This is a full-frontal assault on the Agreement"
SDLP Deputy Leader Brid Rodgers:
"The instability Mr Trimble talks about comes from the attempts by the UUC to bring down Mr Trimble"
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:

22 Sep 02 | N Ireland
21 Sep 02 | N Ireland
21 Sep 02 | N Ireland
19 Sep 02 | N Ireland
19 Sep 02 | N Ireland
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