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Monday, 14 October, 2002, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Parties react to suspension
Reid announced suspension flanked by new ministers
Reid announced suspension flanked by new ministers
Northern Ireland's political parties have been reacting to Secretary of State John Reid's announcement that the assembly will be suspended from midnight on Monday.

The parties held a series of press conferences in the great hall at Stormont after the announcement.

Democratic Unionist Party

Party leader Ian Paisley said: "The fact is that the British Government and the southern government, and others who are trying to pump oxygen into this failed Agreement, must realise it is over and get back to the drawing board and face up to the issues that brought this to an end.

DUP's Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson
Ian Paisley: "Negotiations after elections"

"I believe the British Government will be forced to listen to the majority unionist population without whose support this country can't be governed.

"We are going to have the election and people of Northern Ireland are going to have their say.

"We need a fresh mandate...and then get back to the task of finding a way Northern Ireland can be governed on a purely democratic basis."

Former Regional Development Minister Peter Robinson said: "We'll have the elections first and the negotiations afterwards."

Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said: "It strikes me to ask one question - what has been achieved by this morning's announcement?

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams: "There is no escape from this agreement"

"[John Reid] talks about democracy, while for the fourth - the third time for him - suspending the institutions. Dr Reid is an intelligent man and he must know that what he is doing is accommodating resistance to the Good Friday Agreement.

"The problems have to be resolved and the two governments in the meantime have to be held to their obligations under the Agreement.

"For the DUP or anyone else there is no escape from the Good Friday Agreement. There will be no renegotiation of the Agreement.

"What people seem to miss when they preach about democracy is that the people of this island voted for this document."

Social Democratic and labour Party

SDLP leader and outgoing deputy first minister Mark Durkan said: "For our part we stressed to the two governments that there must be determined efforts to deal with the underlying confidence issues. We want to round up all the outstanding issues because there is disappointment that many parts of the Agreement haven't been fulfilled."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan
Mark Durkan: "Agreement can be saved"

On the election: "The May date should stand but we made it clear if we could agree on resumption before that, then the date could come forward.

"My faith and confidence in the Good Friday Agreement has not dissipated. In fact I have more confidence in it than ever.

"I think there is the opportunity during suspension to bring the Agreement back in a bigger and better way.

"In the last suspension Peter Mandelson said but never acted on the position that ministers could advise direct rule ministers, so I am glad the thinking of the two governments have ended up in tune with the thinking of the SDLP on this."

Ulster Unionist Party

Sir Reg Empey, Enterprise Minister said: "What is happening today is our ministers are being ejected from government, not because of any wrongdoing on our part, not because we haven't honoured our obligations under the Agreement and the Act to the letter,

Sir Reg Empey outcoming Enterprise minister
Sir Reg Empey: "DUP are in courtship dance with Sinn Fein"

"But because the government has failed to honour it obligations to deal with people who are deemed not committed to exclusively peaceful means.

"Our condemnations of republican violence go equally for loyalist violence and it is paramilitarism itself that we need to have removed from our current situation because it is the canker which is eating away at our institutions.

"What [the DUP] are now trying to do is recognise, as we recognised many years ago, that republicans are there and they have to be dealt with," he said.

"A courtship dance has now commenced between the DUP and Sinn Fein which will be aided ands abetted by the government and others as time goes on."

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

Alliance Party leader David Ford said: "While there are criticisms we have to make to the Ulster Unionist Party for their failure to fully defend the Agreement, this crisis has not been brought about by anything other than the behaviour of republicans.

"It is quite clear that republicans should have been punished, not all the other parties."

Mr Ford said Sinn Fein could still take steps to restore confidence: "It is up to them to take these steps and bring matters forward."

Northern Ireland Women's Coalition

Monica McWilliams said: "We have worked all weekend to find an alternative to the assembly being stood down.

MLAs Monica McWilliams and jane Morrice
Women's Coalition blasted Reid over suspension

"We believe there was an alternative to that and that was to sustain the committees.

"It is a disgrace that the assembly's work on health, education, job creation and housing will now be shelved and much progress will be lost.

"The collapse of the assembly is not a price worth paying for the problems we have and offers no constructive way out of those problems."

Find out more about the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process

Devolution crisis





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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