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EDITIONS
Sunday, 13 October, 2002, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Ahern wants 'holistic approach' to NI crisis
Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair in London
Mr Ahern says difficulties should be resolved
The suspension of the Northern Ireland Executive must be used to resolve all outstanding difficulties in the process, the Irish prime minister has said.

Bertie Ahern said while it looked likely the institutions would be suspended, "we are not seeing the suspension of the Agreement".

Secretary of State John Reid is expected to suspend the executive on Monday in response to the political crisis caused by allegations of IRA intelligence gathering inside the Northern Ireland Office.


I do not think it would be a good thing to have a suspension all the way to next May because that would create vacuums and tensions

Bertie Ahern
Irish premier

Also speaking on Sunday, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said the only thing which would avert suspension was the resignation of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness from the executive.

Mr McGuinness, for his part, said: "The journey to peace is difficult... But where we are today, compared to where we were 10 years ago is a far different and a far better place."

Speaking on BBC's Breakfast With Frost on Sunday, Mr Ahern said many issues were still outstanding.

"We have to try in this period of suspension to come to a total and holistic approach to dealing with these issues," he said.

"I do believe, given a span of time - and hopefully not too much time, because I would not want to see the institutions suspended for long... we have to try between the parties to build the trust and come to solutions to these problems."

He added: "There are elections next May. I do not think it would be a good thing to have a suspension all the way to next May because that would create vacuums and tensions."

'Far better place'

Mr McGuinness, speaking on the same programme, said it was a difficult process for all sides.

Martin McGuinness: NI education minister
Martin McGuinness: "IRA has made contribution to peace"
He said: "No-one said at the beginning that it was going to be easy."

But he said things had moved on in the last decade and added: "The IRA have made a very powerful contribution to the search for peace."

Mr Trimble said Mr McGuinness was "living in a fantasy world".

He told Breakfast With Frost: "The instability we have had in the process... comes from the failure of paramilitaries - both loyalist and republican paramilitaries - to deliver the peace.

"We have delivered the politics, but they haven't delivered the peace - that is the problem."
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
David Trimble: "We have delivered the politics"

The first minister said allegations of IRA intelligence gathering within the Northern Ireland Office were bigger than Watergate.

"At Watergate, the response of the leader of the party, Richard Nixon, was to resign. If Martin McGuinness was a man of integrity, he would resign, and there would then be no suspension.

"If Mr McGuinness wants politics to go on and not be suspended tomorrow night, or whenever it is, then let him do the decent thing before that."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan called for all-party talks to restore the devolved assembly as quickly as possible.

"There is serious danger that the Agreement could go cold and mutual recrimination could set in," he said.

"What we need is a shared determination to sort out the outstanding problems."

On Friday, the two Democratic Unionist Party ministers resigned from the Northern Ireland Executive ahead of the likely suspension of the powersharing government.

Regional Development Minister Peter Robinson and Social Development Minister Nigel Dodds resigned over allegations of IRA spying within the Northern Ireland Office.

DUP minister Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson: Resigned from the executive

Government sources told the BBC the Stormont Assembly would be suspended for the fourth time next Monday.

Last week, Mr Trimble said his party would pull out of power sharing next week unless the UK Government proposed the expulsion of Sinn Fein from the Stormont administration.

It is understood two extra ministers will be appointed to the Northern Ireland Office to take over the work of the executive, once direct rule from Westminster is re-introduced.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Denis Murray
"No-one knows when the assembly might be back"
Irish PM Bertie Ahern
"We have to try and build trust between parties"
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:

12 Oct 02 | N Ireland
11 Oct 02 | N Ireland
11 Oct 02 | N Ireland
10 Oct 02 | N Ireland
09 Oct 02 | N Ireland
13 Oct 02 | Europe
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