Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Monday, 1 August 2005 16:21 UK

Demilitarisation plans reaction

Royal Irish Regiment soldiers
The RIR's NI-based battalions are to be disbanded
Leading figures have been reacting to demilitarisation plans announced in response to the IRA ending its armed campaign.

These measures include disbanding the Northern Ireland-based battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment.

A two-year plan to normalise security will see the closure of Army observation posts and defortification of police stations. The number of troops will be reduced from 10,500 to about 5,000 if the security climate is right.

IAN PAISLEY, DUP LEADER AND MP

Mr Paisley said the news of the RIR home battalions disbandment would have a "profound effect" on the political process in Northern Ireland.

The government's so-called normalisation programme will have a profound effect on the political process in Northern Ireland.

It is a surrender to the IRA and is further evidence of bad faith on the part of the government.

We are appalled at the dishonest and dangerous approach of the government with today's announcement of 'normalisation' and we want to make it clear that it will pay a high price for the approach that is being taken.

CONOR MURPHY, SINN FEIN NEWRY AND ARMAGH MP

We have consistently raised the issue of the RIR, both its sectarian make-up and its association with loyalism.

It's essentially part of the problem here.

Any comprehensive strategy to deal with demilitarisation of our society must include the RIR.

ALEX ATTWOOD, SDLP ASSEMBLY MEMBER

Mr Attwood said the announcement was the "right thing to do". He said that the biggest normalisation measures were around policing and were driven by his party.

All of this exposes ever more the weakness of Sinn Fein on policing.

They long ago ran out of excuses not to support the new policing arrangements. Their attitude is now clearly out-of-date.

SIR REG EMPEY, ULSTER UNIONIST PARTY LEADER

Sir Reg said the decision to disband the RIR's home battalions was "supposed to have been taken only after there had been time to test any move by the IRA".

Let us be clear. This is a political response to an IRA statement which is vague.

Political expediency is being allowed to take the place of common sense.

Further more, this decision flies in the face of a statement by Secretary of Defence Geoff Hoon in 2003, in which he gave an assurance that there were no plans to disband the Home Service Battalions.

DAVID FORD, ALLIANCE PARTY LEADER

There was nothing in the IRA's recent statement to indicate that it is wise to so radically repeal our current security apparatus at the moment.

The IRA statement said nothing about accepting the legitimacy of either the northern or southern state with respect to policing and criminal justice.

The IRA statement said nothing about dismantling its 'front' organisations and organised crime networks.

JOHN REID, DEFENCE SECRETARY

Mr Reid welcomed the normalisation of security and paid tribute to the dedication and sacrifice of service men, women and civilians.

The armed forces will continue to support the police for as long as the chief constable requires.

But we also look forward to the time, now clearly in sight, when such support is no longer needed.

We will press on quickly with implementing normalisation measures on the ground now.

TIM COLLINS, FORMER ROYAL IRISH REGIMENT COLONEL

The bottom line is that Sinn Fein must cooperate with the Policing Board.

If they do so then the men of the Home Service Royal Irish can stand down with pride that their mission has been accomplished.

MARK CAMPBELL, RIR REGIMENTAL COLONEL

We all recognise the valuable and fundamental job for the whole people of Northern Ireland undertaken by the Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Irish Home Service.

These are people who stood in harm's way in some very dark times.

It is partly due to their sacrifice and effort that those who would use violence against the democratic process have now rejected violence.

DAVID LIDINGTON, CONSERVATIVE NI SPOKESMAN

Once there is clear evidence that republicans are matching words with deeds, the government would be right to proceed with a programme of normalisation.

But people in Northern Ireland want proof that the changed climate hailed by ministers is both permanent and irreversible.

Instead, it is the government that is rushing to implement measures that are bound to be permanent and irreversible.

What is Mr Hain's plan if the IRA fails to deliver on its promises, as has happened so many times before?




FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific