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Tuesday, 19 September, 2000, 00:39 GMT 01:39 UK
Mandelson warns against NI cynicism
Soldiers back on Belfast streets
'Community will be protected against threat of violence'
Secretary of State Peter Mandelson has warned Northern Ireland's political parties not to allow cynicism and impatience to spread about progress in the peace process.

During a speech in Chicago, Mr Mandelson said paramilitary rumps still existed and that dissident republicans were still plotting attacks.

He told his audience the smoke of the last 30 years had not yet cleared.

His comments came after a day marred by fresh violence in the feud between loyalist paramilitary groups on Belfast's Shankill Road.

He said: "The political parties must continue to concentrate their minds not on dogmatic point scoring or on narrow sectional interests but on the interests of the community as a whole in Northern Ireland.

"That means stretching further to see the other person's concerns and continue the process of give and take to maintain the confidence of both traditions in the agreement."

'Long revolution'

Mr Mandelson, speaking to the Chicago Council for Foreign Relations, said everything necessary would be done to protect the community against attack from dissidents.

"This is a long revolution. Our aim is nothing less than to transform a paramilitary state into a strong, decent civic society. And the key to this is partnership.

"All sides need each other in order to move forward. They need to have confidence they will be met halfway. For if either side feels that their concerns are not being met, that the tide is flowing too much one way, the process will stall."

Let us focus on the critical matters - these are that a section of loyalist people in my constituency are going through turmoil

Gerry Adams MP
Mr Mandelson's remarks came as renewed calls by unionist politicians for a further inspection of IRA arms were dismissed by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

The West Belfast MP said he was surprised the issue had surfaced again during debates in Northern Ireland's Assembly on Monday.

"The IRA gave commitments that it would bring the inspectors in and have regular inspections," he said.

"Let us focus on the critical matters. The critical matters are that a section of loyalist people in my constituency are going through turmoil."

'Gross deception'

During the Assembly debate First Minister David Trimble was criticised from North Belfast Democratic Unionist Party Assembly member Nigel Dodds.

"In the light of his manifesto commitment during the European Election that as far as IRA/Sinn Fein was concerned that if there was no hand-in of guns, there would no hand-in government for IRA/Sinn Fein, will he now take the opportunity to apologise to this House and to the people of Northern Ireland for grossly deceiving them?" Mr Dodds asked.

Mr Trimble said progress had taken place on the decommissioning issue and pointed to the inspections made by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and Cyril Ramaphosa, a past general secretary of the African National Congress, in June.

Peter Mandelson
Peter Mandelson: All issues must be pushed forward "in tandem"
He said: "Now the progress that has occurred, as we know, is not decommissioning in the full sense of that word.

"But I would have thought that anyone who wanted to actually see decommissioning - and I am not at all persuaded that the Assembly member who asked the question actually wants it or not - would welcome the progress that has been made."

He said the Ulster Unionist Party had demontrated it had a "bottom line" on the arms issue.

"I don't want to have to repeat that demonstration and those parties which should be proceeding with decommissioning must not be in any doubts about our determination," he said.

Earlier this month, Mr Mandelson said a further of inspection of the IRA arms dumps should go ahead soon.

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See also:

26 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Timeline: Road to arms inspections
17 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Arms, policing and the peace process
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