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Saturday, September 4, 1999 Published at 06:09 GMT 07:09 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Decision day for parties

George Mitchell: Called in to chair agreement review

Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionists are due to decide on Saturday whether to take part in the review of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Search for Peace
The UUP's 100-member executive is meeting in Belfast, amid calls for a boycott of the review if Sinn Fein is involved.

Sinn Fein's ruling executive is to hold its own meeting in Dublin to decide whether it will support the review, which starts on Monday chaired by former US Senator George Mitchell.

George Mitchell: "History will not forgive failure"
He has used a television interview to warn the parties that allowing the agreement to fail would be "unforgivable".

Tony Blair also renewed his plea to all the political parties not to throw away the progress made so far in the peace process - for the sake of the province's children.

"For goodness' sake, let's not throw it away," said the prime minister.

Tony Blair tells BBC Scotland: "We still remain with the fundamental problem of trust"
He denied the process was finished, but conceded: "We still remain with the fundamental problem of trust.

"I always try to say to people, remember how far we have come - because if you pull the whole thing to pieces or scrap it all, just understand what the consequences of that will be.

"I'm not underestimating either some of the appalling things that have been done by the terrorists and the groups still addicted to violence.

"It will require a lot of courage. It's worth doing for the future, for the children there."

[ image: David Trimble's UUP is meeting in Belfast]
David Trimble's UUP is meeting in Belfast
The Ulster Unionists' Assembly party has recommended involvement in the review.

It has, however, advised that its representatives do not talk directly to Sinn Fein until the IRA has proved it is committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic methods.

The UUP executive is also expected to discuss a possible judicial review of Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam's verdict that the IRA has not broken its ceasefire.

The BBC's Tom Coulter: "It's almost inconceivable that either party will boycott the review"
Sinn Fein is also to decide whether it will boycott the review.

Its concerns hinge on what it sees as an attempt by Mr Blair to rewrite the Good Friday Agreement in July, with failsafe legislation over the formation of the executive.

The Democratic Unionist Party said on Friday it would not take part in the review.

Mitchell warning

[ image: Sinn Fein's ruling executive meeting in Dublin]
Sinn Fein's ruling executive meeting in Dublin
Mr Mitchell warned Northern Ireland's politicians that history will not forgive them if they fail to implement the Good Friday Agreement.

In a television interview just before the crucial review of the workings of the agreement, he said he believed that a deal could be struck because the alternative was unacceptable.

"It is unthinkable to me that after having reached agreement, the parties who support the agreement will permit it to fail. That would be a terrible tragedy, an irony, and I think it would be unforgivable.

"History might have forgiven the failure to reach an agreement since few thought it possible."

'There must be actions'

"History will never forgive the failure to implement an agreement once reached," he said.

Mr Mitchell, who chaired the talks that led to the signing of the agreement, has been called back to Northern Ireland to try to rescue the stalled political process.

[ image: Time for action on decommissioning?]
Time for action on decommissioning?
In an interview with Jonathan Dimbleby on LWT, Mr Mitchell hinted at the need for action on decommissioning.

He said he did not think the political leaders or the communities in Northern Ireland trusted each other.

"I do not think that they can, will or should act solely on the basis of trust.

"Now I think there clearly have to be the right words but there have to be actions."

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