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EDITIONS
Monday, 14 October, 2002, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
Direct rule returns to NI
Stormont was suspended after "a breakdown of trust"
Devolution in Northern Ireland has been suspended for the fourth time, in the wake of allegations of IRA intelligence gathering inside the Northern Ireland Office.

The power-sharing institutions were suspended at midnight on Monday following an announcement by the Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid earlier in the day.

The only way to put power sharing back together is for the two sides to address each other

John Reid
NI secretary
It is not known when power will be restored to the Stormont administration.

Dr Reid said he was taking such action "regrettably" as it had been impossible to overcome the current difficulties in the political process which, he said, stemmed from a loss of trust on both sides.

Several people have been charged in relation to the allegations of intelligence gathering.

"Powersharing can only work in partnership if both sides trust the other," Dr Reid said.

"What has happened is that a number of factors most importantly the continuing alleged violence that is being used by the republicans is completely undermining trust.

"So the only way to put power sharing back together is for the two sides to address each other and to address that problem."

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

Two extra ministers have been appointed to the Northern Ireland Office to deal with affairs in the province in the absence of devolution.

Angela Smith, MP for Basildon, and Ian Pearson, who represents Dudley South, will join Dr Reid and his current team of Jane Kennedy and Des Browne in taking over the day-to-day administration of the province.

Dr Reid said he hoped to find a basis to bring the institutions back into operation as soon as possible, and the date for next May's elections to the assembly still stood.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Premier Bertie Ahern issued a joint statement which said both governments were "deeply saddened" by the development.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
David Trimble: "We have delivered the politics"
But they stressed they remained firmly committed to the Good Friday Agreement and were determined it would succeed.

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

Mr Adams said: "[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."

Gerry Adams:
Gerry Adams: Accused Dr Reid of being "dishonest"

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.

He said: "Those who do not want elections are afraid of the verdict of those elections. We need to get back to the task of finding a way Northern Ireland can be governed on a purely democratic basis."

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

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

The Northern Ireland Assembly met for a final debate ahead of suspension taking affect.

Northern Ireland's First Minister and 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.

He welcomed the two governments' commitment to "restore confidence between the parties and peoples of Northern Ireland, hold elections, and reinstate power-sharing as soon as is possible".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Denis Murray
"The restoration of devolution is essential"
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:

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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