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Saturday, September 11, 1999 Published at 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Pressure mounts on Trimble

Unionist confidence in process at "low ebb" - Donaldson

Ulster Unionist MPs are stepping up the pressure on party leader David Trimble in the wake of the publication of the Patten report on the future of policing.

The Search for Peace
Anti-Agreement Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson has said that the party should distance itself from the Good Friday Agreement in the light of continuing IRA violence.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics programme, Mr Donaldson said that unionist confidence in the Agreement was at low ebb.

"There will come a point, and maybe that point is here, that the party has to say that to continue with the process, to lend credibility of this process is, in effect, to seriously damage unionism itself.

Jeffrey Donaldson:"Deeply sceptical about where this review is taking us"
"That is something that the party executive will have to look at very seriously, particularly in the aftermath of the disastrous proposals contained in Patten's report on policing."

The Lagan Valley MP also said that the decision by the party's deputy leader John Taylor to withdraw from the review would be supported in families throughout Northern Ireland.

"I am deeply sceptical about where this review is taking us without the type of commitment we need - the end to violence and the decommissioning of illegal weapons."

Unionists were furious at the conclusions of the Patten report into the future of policing in Northern Ireland, especially the recommendation that the name of the Royal Ulster Constabulary should be changed. This was regarded as an insult to the reputation of the force, which the Protestant community believes defended the community during many years of IRA violence.

Mr Donaldson's comments follow calls from West Tyrone MP Willie Thompson urging David Trimble to consider his position as party leader.

[ image: Decision a blow to David Trimble]
Decision a blow to David Trimble
"I think eventually if a leader follows a policy which, in the end of the day, fails then I think obviously he must consider his position," he said.

"He must see that the policy pursued by his leadership over the past number of months is no longer viable."

The call from Mr Thompson follows the withdrawal on Friday of Mr Trimble's deputy leader, John Taylor, from the review of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

John Taylor: "It is quite clear IRA is re-arming"
Mr Taylor, who played a key role in selling the Good Friday Agreement to unionists, now says he will not be taking part in George Mitchell's review of the peace process because he doubted Sinn Fein's commitment to peace.

He said there had been an attempt to re-arm rather than decommission within the IRA's ranks.

Mr Taylor said: "I cannot personally accept the idea of the IRA, in the circumstances of recruiting new people into terrorist activity and the circumstances of having been caught bringing in illegal armaments, being brought into a government here in Northern Ireland.

The BBC's Tom Coulter reports
"If that is the price of devolution then there will be no devolution."

Mr Taylor said that despite his stance on the Mitchell review he still fully supports Mr Trimble as party leader.

Secretary of State Mo Mowlam has appealed for unionists to continue talking in order to break the current deadlock.

" I just ask them from the bottom of my heart to think before [not] turning up to talk to George Mitchell on Monday," she said.

SDLP Asssembly Chief Whip Eddie McGrady said that John Taylor had no new reason to withdraw from the peace process at this stage.

"There's no reason why John Taylor should jump at this point," he said.

"Nothing has changed from Easter of 1998 when the Agreeement was signed until now in any radical way."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said Mr Taylor was making a mistake by staying away from the review.

Mr Adams said: "I think Mr Taylor should be there with the rest of us. If he does not do that all he is doing is confirming the 'no' men of unionism."

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