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Tuesday, September 7, 1999 Published at 22:56 GMT 23:56 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Mitchell denies he is 'dispirited' over review

Mitchell tackles decommissioning and devolved powers deadlock

Former US senator George Mitchell was involved in a terse exchange of views with the leader of the UK Unionist Party, Robert McCartney, during the second day of his review of the Good Friday Agreeement.

Mr McCartney, who is opposed to the agreement, described Mr Mitchell as "totally dispirited".

BBC NI's Mark Simpson: "Terse exchange as smaller parties put their views to Mitchell"
He told reporters that the former senator was "showing no indications of the slightest optimism" that the review would be successful.

Afterwards a spokesman for Mr Mitchell denied that he had been feeling pessimistic.

In a reference to the poor relationship between the two men the spokesman said that if Mr Mitchell had been dispirited it was probably at the prospect of meeting Mr McCartney.

[ image: Robert McCartney: Still considering whether to take part in review]
Robert McCartney: Still considering whether to take part in review
Before the meeting the UK Unionist leader launched an attack on the review chairman.

He said: ''Mitchell, having facilitated Sinn Fein/IRA's entry into negotiations without decommissioning, having facilitated Sinn Fein's entry into the Agreement without decommissioning, is now here to facilitate Sinn Fein into government without decommissioning.''

The UK Unionists have still not decided if they will take part in further discussions, but two other parties, the Northern Ireland Unionist Party, and the United Unionist Assembly Party are boycotting the review.

The Search for Peace
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George Mitchell Profile
Link to Good Friday Agreement
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Mr Mitchell held talks on Tuesday with a number of the smaller parties including those close to loyalist terrorists.

He spoke to the Progressive Unionist Party, which is linked to the UVF and Red Hand Commando, and the Ulster Democratic Party, which is linked to the UDA.

The PUP's David Ervine said he feared the politicians were not mature enough to take responsibility for creating an accountable democracy which the people had "lusted for and screamed for, for a very long time."

He said: ''All we have to do is put our hands out and take it but the politicians seem to be lagging way behind the people.''

[ image: Sean Neeson: Accused Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein of
Sean Neeson: Accused Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein of "arrogance"
Leader of the pro-Agreement Alliance Party, Sean Neeson, also led a delegation to meet the former Northern Ireland talks chairman.

Afterwards Mr Neeson said he was concerned about the "arrogance" of the leadership of the Ulster Unonist Party and Sinn Fein.

"It is not their agreement, it is the people's agreement.

"I think that the real danger that we are facing at the moment is that this blind arrogance of these people could well give victory to the anti-agreement people."

Another pro-agreement party, the Women's Coalition, urged everyone to give the review a chance to succeed.

Party leader Monica McWilliams said: "Everyone in this country is always blaming somebody else for the troubles. We have one last opportunity to resolve all our troubles.

[ image: Monica McWilliams:
Monica McWilliams: "The agreement is bigger than the parties"
"I guess that the most important thing to say at this stage is that the integrity of that agreement is bigger and larger than the integrity of any individual party."

On Monday Mr Mitchell met the leaders of the four major parties at Stormont, Belfast, and urged them to grasp the chance for peace.

He said the review would be short and tightly focused on breaking the impasse over forming a power-sharing government at Stormont and decommissioning all terrorist weapons by May 2000.

But there was little sign of progress, as the Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein continued to blame each other for the deadlock in the peace process.

[ image: Trimble: Blamed Sinn Fein for the deadlock]
Trimble: Blamed Sinn Fein for the deadlock
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said republicans had yet to prove they had rejected violence.

Sinn Fein accused the UUP of stalling because they did not want to sit in government with republicans.

And anti-agreement Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley told Mr Mitchell his party wanted to wreck the peace deal because it could not accept terrorists in government.

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