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Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 18:57 GMT 19:57 UK
Blair 'must live up to speech'
Mr Blair said IRA activity must cease
Mr Blair said IRA activity must cease
A leading Ulster Unionist has questioned what Prime Minister Tony Blair will do next, following his keynote speech in Belfast.

Sir Reg Empey asked when Mr Blair was going to live up to his promises to the people of Northern Ireland.

Tony Blair has said the IRA must remove its threat of violence in order for the Northern Ireland political process to succeed.


The problem he has is that he gave undertakings to the people and he, so far, has not implemented and honoured those undertakings

Sir Reg Empey
Ulster Unionist

In his speech, the prime minister said "we cannot carry on with the IRA half in, half out of this process. Not just because it isn't right any more. It won't work anymore".

Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive was suspended for the fourth time at midnight on Monday following allegations of IRA intelligence gathering in the Northern Ireland Office.

'Implement all elements'

Sir Reg said Mr Blair "has identified and regurgitated things we have been telling him for months".

"The problem he has is that he gave undertakings to the people and he, so far, has not implemented and honoured those undertakings."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said it was disappointing Mr Blair had not spelt out how the British Government intended to implement all elements of the Agreement.


The prime minister's criticism of opposition policy on Northern Ireland is simply fatuous

Quentin Davies
Shadow NI spokesman

"This is the first prime minister in a very long time who has tried to put British policy right," he said.

"That's what the Good Friday Agreement was about - it was about dealing with British policy and the consequences of it.

"We have had considerable progress for the vast majority of people, but we still haven't had the progress necessary from the British Government on these outstanding matters."

The Democratic Unionist Party's Peter Robinson said Mr Blair must accept the Agreement had failed.

He said the prime minister's speech was a last ditch attempt to "shore up a crumbling process".

The East Belfast MP said if Mr Blair was waiting for movement from the IRA "he must do more than beat them around the head with carrots".

'Lacks credibility'

However, the SDLP's Sean Farren said Mr Blair had made it clear there was no alternative to the Agreement.

South Belfast UUP MP Martin Smyth said the prime minister's speech would "have very little credibility with unionists".

"They still remember the broken promises which the prime minister issued from Balmoral in my own constituency," he said.

"While much of the anti-terrorist sentiment of Tony Blair's speech can be broadly agreed with, the problem is that it lacks credibility.
DUP minister Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson: "Mr Blair must accept Agreement has failed"

"Tony Blair should note the BBC poll which clearly shows that the unionist community firmly reject the current process."

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Quentin Davies said: "The prime minister's criticism of opposition policy on Northern Ireland is simply fatuous.

"He says we are accusing the government of betraying unionism. What we are accusing the Government of is betraying the Agreement by letting out all the prisoners before there was any decommissioning and by not responding at all to successive Sinn Fein/IRA breaches of the ceasefire."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Dennis Murray
"The strongest speech the Prime Minister has made on the peace process"
BBC NI's Gareth Gordon:
"A few republican protesters greeted Mr Blair as he arrived"
Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey:
"Mr Blair has identified and regurgitated things we have been telling him for months"

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See also:

17 Oct 02 | N Ireland
17 Oct 02 | N Ireland
17 Oct 02 | N Ireland
15 Oct 02 | N Ireland
14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
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