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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 December, 2004, 16:34 GMT
Paisley talks to weapons chief
Ian Paisley said republicans had held back progress
Ian Paisley said republicans had held back progress
The DUP has said it is unrealistic to set deadlines for a political deal when the IRA has still not met General John de Chastelain over decommissioning.

Party leader Ian Paisley met General de Chastelain on Saturday for the second time in less than a week.

He said it was "amazing" Prime Minister Tony Blair was setting deadlines for a deal when putting weapons beyond use had not been discussed with the IRA.

Mr Paisley said the process was being "held back" by the republican movement.

The meeting between Mr Paisley and General de Chastelain comes after weeks of intensive negotiations between the British and Irish governments and the political parties Sinn Fein and the DUP.

They have centred on the responses from the parties to the proposals put forward aimed at restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland.


The DUP has demanded photographic evidence of decommissioning as an essential part of any deal to restore devolution.

On Friday, Mr Paisley said it was not up to his party to say "yes" or "no" to the latest British-Irish proposals when they meet Mr Blair on Monday.

Instead, he said Sinn Fein should first indicate that they would abide by the governments' proposals.

After Saturday's talks, the DUP leader said: "We discovered from the general that as yet the IRA has not met with him to discuss the details of the proposed decommissioning events.

"It is amazing that the prime minister is in the business of setting deadlines for the incoming week when this most important matter has not been discussed with those whom we expect to decommission their illegal arsenal.

"We are not going to be bluffed or buy a pig in a poke on a matter that affects the lives of the present and future generation of Ulster people."

General de Chastelain heads the decommissioning body

Mr Paisley said the republican movement needed to "engage immediately" with the IICD (Independent International Commission on Decommissioning).

"Or we will know that the whole exercise was one of deception by Sinn Fein/IRA," he added.

The Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams appealed to republicans not to be provoked by the "unacceptable language" used by Mr Paisley.

Mr Adams said that comments by Mr Paisley, in which he said he would have to "swallow hard" to do business with republicans, were an acknowledgement of the prospect of Sinn Fein in government.

He said: "It is also the first begrudging, mixed-up, convoluted, angry acknowledgment by Ian Paisley of the Sinn Fein mandate. We shouldn't dismiss that.

"He also said in terms of getting a deal , it was 'now or never'. As far as we are concerned, it is now.

"He needs to come up to the plate and he needs to say 'yes'."






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