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The BBC's Kevin Connolly
"A chance to savour a moment of triumph"
 real 28k

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
"Republican promises must be delivered"
 real 28k

Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein
"An onus on everyone to honour their commitments"
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UK Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Mandelson
"Northern Ireland today has a second chance to get it right"
 real 28k

BBC NI's political correspondent Martina Purdey
Unionist opposition to devolution will not be quelled by Saturday's vote.
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Saturday, 27 May, 2000, 22:28 GMT 23:28 UK
Stormont prepares for power
Yes vote supporters lobbied the Council
It was a close result in the Ulster Unionist Council vote
Within two days Northern Ireland will again have its own government after a crucial vote by the Ulster Unionist Party backed a return to a power-sharing executive with Sinn Fein.

Power will be devolved from Westminster to the Stormont at midnight on Monday, and the executive will hold its first meeting on Thursday.

Devolution timetable
Power returns at midnight on Monday
Restored executive meets on Thursday
NI assembly meets on 5 June
Visits by arms inspectors soon afterwards
All 108 members of the Northern Ireland assembly will then gather on 5 June, for the first time since proceedings were suspended in February.

There was huge relief in London, Dublin and Washington on Saturday as the UUP's ruling council backed the party's leader David Trimble and agreed by 53% to 47% to share power with republicans.

Just hours later Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson signed the order restoring power to the province.

Weapons offer

The vote by Ulster Unionists was the latest episode in the long running troubles of the peace process.

It followed the IRA offer to put its arms beyond use and, as an interim confidence building measure, to allow inspectors into a number arms dumps.

Cyril Ramaphosa, former secretary-general of the African National Congress
Cyril Ramaphosa has been appointed a weapons inspector
Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and Cyril Rhamaphosa, the ex-secretary general of the African National Congress, have been appointed as the arms inspectors.

Delegates at Belfast's Waterfront Hall voted on a starkly worded motion to endorse "the report of the leader, the Right Honourable David Trimble".

The final winning margin was 459 votes in favour with 403 voting against. One vote was spoiled.

After the result was announced, Mr Trimble told reporters that his party had been stretched "remarkably".

"I and my colleagues will hold republicans to their promises.

"If there's any foot-dragging or delay, there will be difficulties."

'Right decision'

The result was welcomed by nationalist and republican leaders while the anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party leader, Ian Paisley, was scathing in his criticism.

He accused Ulster Unionists of being part of an "ongoing process aimed at achieving a united Ireland and elevating the IRA".

We now have a chance to prove that the agreement can work for everyone

Bertie Ahern
However, the DUP have not yet clarified whether the party's ministers in the suspended executive, Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds, will resume their portfolios.

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".

In Dublin, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern also welcomed the UUC decision.

The vote comes three months after the power-sharing executive was suspended by the UK Government because of an impasse over IRA arms decommissioning.

The return of the assembly presents another possible difficulty as dissident Ulster Unionists may support DUP motions designed to cause difficulties for Mr Trimble.

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See also:

27 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Unionists back power-sharing
27 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Mixed reaction to devolution vote
27 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Returning to power
27 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Mandelson hails 'second chance'
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