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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Blair 'determined' to break NI deadlock
The DUP ministers will resign on Friday
The DUP ministers will resign on Friday
Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he is "absolutely determined" to find a solution to the Northern Ireland political deadlock.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with First Minister David Trimble on Tuesday, Mr Blair said the Good Friday Agreement could only work if everyone accepted its "full principles" - including an end to violence.

He said: "This is a very serious situation, there's no doubting it at all, and the tragedy is I believe that the vast majority of people recognise that the Good Friday Agreement, the peace process, offers the best chance of a sensible future if it can be made to work."

Mr Blair's comments come amid fears that the power-sharing executive is on the brink of collapse.

It followed allegations of IRA intelligence gathering within the Northern Ireland Office.

Mr Trimble has accused Sinn Fein of "political conspiracy on a massive scale" following the allegations and he said he wanted Mr Blair to take action.

Assembly debate

The allegations are being debated by the Northern Ireland Assembly as the crisis within the political process deepens.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair: To hold talks with David Trimble

Opening the debate, DUP leader Ian Paisley called for Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid's resignation over the allegations that an IRA mole had been able to get access to sensitive NIO information.

He said it was time for unionists like those in his party to put Sinn Fein out of government in the way the "weak-kneed" British Government and Ulster Unionist Party had refused to do.

"Because everything is not well in Northern Ireland and there is to all intents and purposes no peace process. There is rather a war process," he said.

Shootings, bombings and unsolved crime had risen dramatically since the signing of the Agreement in 1998, he said.

DUP leader Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley: "We have a war process, not a peace process"

Mr Paisley said he had expected the Ulster Unionists to follow his commitment to pull his ministers out of the Northern Ireland Executive.

"But Mr Trimble treated my letter with contempt."

He announced on Tuesday the resignations of DUP ministers Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds would take effect from noon on Friday.

But Ulster Unionist Dermot Nesbitt rejected Mr Paisley's analysis of his party as weak-kneed.

He said his party had worked for equality in Northern Ireland, and taken risks, but had been "let down big-time" by Sinn Fein.

The SDLP's Brid Rodgers said republicans had serious questions to answer over the allegations which had caused suspicion and confusion especially in the nationalist community.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly interrupted to warn that many of the matters being discussed may be sub judice as court cases were continuing.

Stormont raid

The assembly motion tabled by the DUP, followed the police raid of Sinn Fein's Stormont office, and addresses in north and west Belfast, on Friday.

Four people were arrested. Three have appeared in court accused of having information of use to terrorists.

A fourth person is still being questioned by police investigating alleged IRA intelligence gathering.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has confirmed that police returned the two computer disks taken from its Stormont office on Friday.

The items were returned to the party's solicitors on Tuesday.

On Monday, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams dismissed the police raid as "political theatre" and said it was aimed at discrediting republicans in anticipation of a threatened unionist walkout from the executive.

As the round of political meetings go on, Mr Blair is to meet Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on Wednesday.

Mr Blair is also expected to meet Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and the SDLP's Mark Durkan.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Prime Minister Tony Blair
"I remain absolutely determined to make sure there is a way through this"
BBC NI's Gareth Gordon
"The DUP has timed its move to cause maximum damage"
BBC NI's Martina Purdy:
"DUP ministers turned their back on the executive today"
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:

07 Oct 02 | N Ireland
07 Oct 02 | N Ireland
05 Oct 02 | N Ireland
04 Oct 02 | N Ireland
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