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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 16:56 GMT
'No secret decommissioning'
David Trimble
David Trimble said there was no obligation to confidentiality

General de Chastelain should tell republicans he will not cooperate any further with "secret decommissioning", David Trimble has said.

Speaking in a parliamentary debate on confidentiality and decommissioning on Wednesday, Mr Trimble said it would be effective if General de Chastelain's arms commission told republicans that greater transparency was now needed to build public confidence.

Negotiations have failed to bridge the gap between Ulster Unionist demands for clarity over the IRA's third arms move and the IRA's reluctance to spell out in more detail what weaponry had been decommissioned.

The Commons debate was opened by Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Quentin Davies who said the Tories would not be party to "a cover-up" or acquiesce in deceiving the public.

He said there was "a 180 degree contradiction" between statements by Prime Minister Tony Blair and General de Chastelain.

Quentin Davies
Quentin Davies was warned by the Commons speaker

Speaker Michael Martin warned Mr Davies several times that the motion tabled by the Opposition was more neutral than the speech he was giving.

"The motion does not attack the prime minister in the manner you are attacking the prime minister at the moment, and I tell you to be very careful about what you are saying," he said.

'General terms'

Mr Trimble said there was no obligation or requirement to confidentiality in the decommissioning process at all.

"Our doubts were well founded. When the second act of decommissioning occurred... its impact on the public was nil. People believe what they see and believe what they know about," he said.

"They are sceptical of those things only referred to in the most general terms."

Northern Ireland Security Minister Jane Kennedy criticised the Tories for raising the issue in the middle of an election campaign in Northern Ireland.
Lembit Opik
Lembit Opik says there is a case to answer

"Undermining General de Chastelain and the commission, which is liable to be the effect of what you are doing if not your intention, is profoundly damaging for prospects for advancing the peace process," she said.

However Lembit Opik, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on Northern Ireland, said: "There is a case to answer here. I feel misled. I feel that there is an unresolved confusion regarding the statements of the prime minister and the statements of General de Chastelain."

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