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Monday, 14 October, 2002, 07:59 GMT 08:59 UK
Reid set to suspend assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly is set to be suspended for the fourth time amid a further crisis in the political process.

Secretary of State John Reid is expected to make the announcement at Hillsborough Castle on Monday morning.

The latest crisis has been caused by allegations of IRA intelligence gathering inside the Northern Ireland Office.

Several people have been charged in relation to the allegations.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
David Trimble: "We have delivered the politics"

Earlier this month, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said his party would pull out of power sharing unless the UK Government proposed the expulsion of Sinn Fein from the Stormont administration.

On Friday, the two Democratic Unionist Party ministers resigned from the executive.

Unionists have demanded Sinn Fein's expulsion from government because of allegations of IRA activity, including claims it was involved in training left-wing Colombian guerrillas and was behind the break-in at the police's Belfast headquarters in March.

Speaking on Monday ahead of the suspension move, Northern Ireland First Minister and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said talks after suspension needed to focus on the activities of paramilitaries.

"It is those who are in those paramilitaries, or who have influence over them or can bring pressure to bear on them who will be resolving that," he said.

"If there's anything we can do to bring pressure to bear, we will do it. Beyond that I'm at a loss to see what we can do."

Mandate

Peter Robinson of the DUP said there must be elections before any talks aimed at restoring devolution.

"The unionist community certainly wouldn't accept having those who negotiated us into this mess having the lead position in negotiations," he said.

"We need fresh elections and a mandate from those elections in the negotiations that follow."

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness: Anti-Agreement unionists "will make deal"

Earlier, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said he believed anti-Agreement unionists would eventually have to make a deal with his party.

"Anti-Agreement unionists are now beginning to come to terms with the reality that Sinn Fein is not going away," he said.

"I think they are also coming to terms with the reality that the Good Friday Agreement isn't going to go away.

"If they want out of the institutions, or the institutions are suspended today against Sinn Fein's wishes, they are going to have to come back to the Good Friday Agreement and there is going to be no re-negotiation of that Agreement."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan warned that the Agreement would be badly damaged unless talks begin immediately after suspension.

But he said there could could be elections before May if all the political parties were serious about making progress.

"If we come back with an implementation plan which covers all the outstanding aspects of the Agreement, then we can move forward in a very positive way," he said.

At the weekend, Irish Premier Bertie Ahern said suspension of the executive must be used to resolve all outstanding difficulties in the process.

While it was likely the institutions would be suspended, he said: "We are not seeing the suspension of the Agreement."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Denis Murray reports from Belfast
"No one knows when the assembly might be back"
Progressive Unionist Party's David Ervine
"Sinn Fein exacerbate the problem by telling lies"
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams
"Sinn Fein was not and is not involved in any spying ring"
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
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