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Tuesday, 4 July, 2000, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
SF expulsion motion fails
Martin McGuinness in his education office at Rathgael House
DUP wants to exclude Sinn Fein ministers from office
The Democratic Unionist Party has failed in its attempt to remove Sinn Fein's two ministers from Northern Ireland's powersharing executive.

However, in a debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday the anti-agreement party gained the support of a majority of unionists at Stormont for the move - 32 out of a possible 58.

Two members of First Minister David Trimble's Ulster Unionist assembly party supported the DUP motion - Derek Hussey from West Tyrone and Roy Beggs Jnr from East Antrim.

The DUP failed to achieve its aim of gaining the support of 60% of unionists in the assembly for the motion and its two ministers in the executive - regional development minister Peter Robinson and social affairs minister Nigel Dodds are likely to resign from office.

The two ministers threatened to resign from their posts unless their motion achieved the support of 60% of unionist assembly members.

They said they would then rotate the posts among DUP assembly colleagues.

'Stunt'

Earlier, Mr Trimble criticised the DUP for "deliberately delaying" their motion until a critical time in Northern Ireland.

He said it was "stunt" timed to heighten tension in the province.

Tensions have been raised by violence at the Drumcree marching flashpoint and some other related incidents around Northern Ireland.

Mr Trimble said: "It is a question of riots that are currently taking place.


First Minister David Trimble
David Trimble: Accusation of "DUP hypocrisy"
"It is a question of how last night and the night before we saw paramilitaries out pelting our policemen with stones and bottles, displaying their arms, using their arms," he said.

"That's the issue which ought to be at the forefront of our minds today. Is this debate not going to increase the tension in society? This debate is irresponsible.

"The DUP don't care about the situation. What contribution are they making to maintain peace and calm in society?"

'Hypocrisy'

Mr Trimble accused the DUP's two ministers of "rank hypocrisy" in trying to have Sinn Fein education minister Martin McGuinness and health minister Bairbre de Brun removed from office as he said they were part of the government with Sinn Fein.

"This is about attacking the Ulster Unionists and saving Peter and Nigel's jobs," Mr Trimble said.

Most of Mr Trimble's party colleagues abstained from voting on the motion.

Ulster Unionist East Londonderry assemblywoman Pauline Armitage gave the 30th signature which the DUP needed to bring the motion forward.

None of the other main parties supported it.

'IRA link'

During the debate, DUP leader Ian Paisley demanded that Sinn Fein's two ministers should be thrown out of the executive.


DUP leader Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley has dismissed IRA arms move
Proposing the motion he said it was "ludicrous" that an organisation linked to the IRA should be in government and he catalogued a series of links, which he said, existed between Sinn Fein and terrorism.

He said the IRA had not finished with terror and condemned its recent move to let international statesmen inspect some of its arms dumps to confirm they were secure as a "worthless stunt".

"Destruction of this province is at stake. It is the triumph of fascism which is the main objective. It is the burial of democracy which is being sought," he said.

'Bigotry'

In response, Sinn Fein vice president Pat Doherty said the DUP had been linked to paramilitaries over the years.

He also accused the DUP of "blatant hypocrisy," because he said the party's members sat on assembly committees, local councils and went on foreign trips with his party.

"Isn't it pure, blatant and unadulterated hypocrisy that they serve on these committees," he said.

"Are they so blinded by their sectarian bigotry, so unwilling to accept equality, so unwilling to accept the democratic mandate of Sinn Fein?"

Social Democratic and Labour Party North Belfast assemblyman Alban Maginness said the motion was "contemptible" and a "piece of pure theatre" designed to please DUP supporters.

The assembly debate was the last one before the summer recess.

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See also:

28 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Unionist supports Sinn Fein exclusion
28 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Anti-Sinn Fein school walkout
02 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein criticised over flag stance
08 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
McGuinness denies 'retreat' claims
29 May 00 | Northern Ireland
The Stormont ministers
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