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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 08:20 GMT 09:20 UK
Reid hopes for 'short' suspension
Stormont crisis is coming to a head
Assembly has been put on ice
Hopes for a short-term suspension of devolved government in Northern Ireland have been expressed by the Secretary of State John Reid.

Direct rule from Westminster came into force at midnight on Monday.

The fourth suspension means that Dr Reid and his team of ministers will take decisions previously taken by the power-sharing executive.

On Tuesday, Dr Reid is expected to tell the House of Commons why suspension was necessary and he will outline which portfolios are to be given to Northern Ireland Office ministers including the two latest additions to Hillsborough, Angela Smith and Ian Pearson.

John Reid: Secretary of State
John Reid: Due to address Parliament on the issue

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.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Robin Eames, the Primate of All Ireland, said it was vital that republicans made a significant move in order to get the political process back on track.

On BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday, he was asked whether it was necessary for republicans to make an act of reassurance.

He said: "Absolutely essential. But I think they have got to recognise right across the board that there are paramilitaries on both sides.

"The paramilitaries on the republican side have a lot to answer for, but so have the paramilitaries on the loyalist side. I want to see an end to it all."

On Monday, Dr Reid made it clear that elections to the Stormont Assembly would still take place at the beginning of May next year.

He said he hoped the suspension would provide a breathing space for the peace process to move forward.

"Power sharing can only work in partnership if both sides trust the other," he said.

It is not known when power will be restored to the Stormont administration.

NI Assembly 1998-2002

February 2000 - Mandelson three month suspension
August 2001 - Reid 24 hour technical suspension
September 2001 - Reid 24 hour suspension
October 2002 - Ulster Unionists resign from executive
November 2001 - Assembly executive re-instated
October 2002 - Reid suspension

Following the announcement, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Premier Bertie Ahern issued a joint statement which said the two governments were both "deeply saddened" by the developments.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams accused Dr Reid of being "very, very dishonest in his remarks".

Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley - whose two ministers resigned from the executive on Friday - said any talks to find a new political settlement must be held after an assembly election was called.

SDLP leader and Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan said there must be a determined effort to deal with the underlying confidence issues.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said talks after suspension needed to focus on the activities of paramilitaries.

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

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

Meanwhile, US President George W Bush said he supported the "difficult but necessary" decision to suspend.

The president's special envoy to Northern Ireland, Richard Haas, said the IRA and other groups needed to "essentially go out of business".

"Recently we have seen revelations and indications that certain types of activities continue to go on," he said.

The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Belfast
"What unionists want is a Northern Ireland where there isn't an IRA anymore"
Primate of all Ireland Archbishop Robin Eames
"I'd like to see trust reappear again - it has been shattered"
BBC NI's London correspondent Stephen Walker:
"John Reid is prepared for a sustained period of direct rule"
Find out more about the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process

Devolution crisis





See also:

14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
12 Oct 02 | N Ireland
11 Oct 02 | N Ireland
11 Oct 02 | N Ireland
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