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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February, 2004, 15:40 GMT
Incident was 'serious breach'
Secretary of State Paul Murphy
Secretary of State Paul Murphy expressed his disappointment
The alleged false imprisonment of a dissident republican was a "serious breach" of the British-Irish Joint Declaration, the secretary of state has said.

Bobby Tohill was found injured in a van which was stopped in Belfast on Friday.

Four men appeared in court on Monday in connection with the incident.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde said on Saturday that members of the Provisional IRA were behind the incident, and he met Paul Murphy on Monday to deliver his security assessment.

Mr Murphy said on Tuesday that the alleged incident was "a serious breach of paragraph 13 of the joint declaration".

This part of the document, produced last year as an attempt by the British and Irish Governments to move the political process forward, demands an end to paramilitary activity.

The Independent Monitoring Commission, the four-man body which monitors paramilitary activity in the province, has been discussing the matter in Dublin on Tuesday.

Mr Murphy said the body, which has been asked to investigate, would now produce a report on 1 May.

He said he "could not express strongly enough his disappointment" at what had happened.


He was speaking after discussing the incident with political parties and Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen at Stormont.

Tuesday's talks had been intended to focus on north-south issues in the review of the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking after a meeting with Mr Murphy on Monday, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness criticised the chief constable's remarks, saying he should wait for the courts' verdict.

The Democratic Unionist Party called on Mr Murphy to rule on the state of the IRA's ceasefire.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble warned the government it must remove Sinn Fein from the review of the Good Friday Agreement until paramilitary activity ends.

The SDLP's Alex Attwood said the incident was "the straw which broke the camel's back".

The political institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence-gathering in the Stormont government.

BBC NI's political correspondent Martina Purdy:
"The review is aimed at improving the workings of the Good Friday Agreement but so far, proceedings have been moving slowly"

Talks over van allegations
23 Feb 04  |  Northern Ireland
Adams angry at 'kidnap' claims
22 Feb 04  |  Northern Ireland
Proposals for Stormont shake-up
14 Feb 04  |  Northern Ireland
Injured man in 'abduction attempt'
21 Feb 04  |  Northern Ireland

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