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BBC NI tests the grassroots reaction to the vote
Unionists remain uneasy while nationalists declare its "game on!"
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Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams
"I hope today's decision marks the beginning of a collective decision to move forward"
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SDLP leader, John Hume
"I think it is a very positive result today"
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Saturday, 27 May, 2000, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
Mixed reaction to devolution vote
Party votes to follow Trimble back into government
Party votes to follow Trimble back into government
Sinn Fein has welcomed the Ulster Unionist Council's decision to back David Trimble's plan for a return to government in Northern Ireland.

Of the 863 delegates to the UUC who voted at their crucial meeting in the Waterfront Hall on Saturday, 53.2% endorsed the package for restarting devolution, while 46.8% voted against.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the Ulster Unionists had made the "right decision which will be welcomed by the people of this island and beyond".

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams: Opportunity to move forward
Gerry Adams: Opportunity to move forward
Meanwhile, the anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party said the Ulster Unionists had "cast away every electoral pledge they made to the people of Northern Ireland."

But Mr Adams said the onus was now on everyone to honour their commitments.

"Especially the British Government which has to fulfill its commitments under the Good Friday Agreement and the Joint Statement of May 5th."

He added: "There is an opportunity now to move forward and to implement the Good Friday Agreement which the overwhelming majority of the people of this island voted for, an opportunity to build an alternative to the rejectionists and make politics work."

"Regrettable language"

However, Sinn Fein assemblyman Alex Maskey has called on the Ulster Unionist leader to withdraw his "shameful" comments that Sinn Fein representatives still "needed to be housetrained in democracy and brought to heel".

Speaking after the UUC supported his proposals, David Trimble also warned Sinn Fein against displaying "arrogance" while in the devolved government.

Mr Maskey said: "If that is the sort of language used to secure the vote then that is very regrettable indeed.

This was the same psychology which led to the formation of murder gangs like the Shankill butchers, he said.

Mr Maskey added that he hoped Mr Trimble was not "in hock" to the anti-agreement camp within his party.

He said he hoped the Ulster Unionists would now embrace change and their yes vote was not just tactical.

Jeffrey Donaldson
Jeffrey Donaldson said he would continue fight from within
Jeffrey Donaldson's alternative proposals for implementing the Good Friday Agreement, which demanded IRA decommissioning before the executive was reinstated, were rejected by a majority of the delegates.

The hardline Ulster Unionist Lagan Valley MP said he would continue to press for republicans to honour their obligations from within the Ulster Unionist Party.

He added that the views of the no voters must be allowed to be heard within the UUP.

'Trimble will lose in long term'

Anti-agreement Ulster Unionist MP William Thompson said that despite the result, Mr Trimble would lose support in the long term.

Hardline UUP MP William Thompson
William Thompson: Vote will damage party's election chances
He said the UUP was heading towards "a great defeat" in the next election.

Mr Thompson added that anti-agreement UUP members would keep fighting "until we win".

However, Ulster Unionist deputy leader John Taylor, who was heckled and jostled by protestors as he left the Waterfront Hall, said that he did not believe the vote would split the party.

He said that if the meeting had been held last Saturday Mr Trimble would have lost the vote, but he added: "This is a positive party and we can deliver. Now it is up to others to do the same."

'Continue fight outside UUP'

DUP leader Ian Paisley, who has not yet stated whether his party intends to re-enter the assembly executive, said the Ulster Unionists no longer had a role to play in defending the Union.

"Having cast away every electoral pledge they made to the people of Northern Ireland, they have now endorsed sharing power with the IRA without any decommissioning having taken place, and without the least prospects that it ever will.

"Resistance and opposition to the republican programme must therefore be assembled completely outside the ranks of the now wholly discredited UUP," he said.

John Hume: Parties can now work on
John Hume: Parties can now work on "normal" politics
Leader of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party John Hume said it was a very positive result.

He added that the people of Northern Ireland could now "leave our terrible past behind us and start spilling sweat instead of blood, working together in normal politics".

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson said the province now had its "second chance".

He said the vote was a demonstration that unionism could move forward, but stressed that he had not given the party any private special assurance on the future of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Irish premier Bertie Ahern welcomed the result.

"We now have a chance to prove on a sustained basis that the agreement can work for everyone," he said.

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See also:

27 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Returning to power
27 May 00 | Northern Ireland
'Defining moment' for NI peace
26 May 00 | Northern Ireland
BBC survey suggests close result
26 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Trimble: Rival plan unrealistic
26 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Donaldson letter: Full text
23 May 00 | Northern Ireland
IRA offer 'still on table'
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