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The BBC's Mark Mardell
"Its very difficult to see how the parties can make concessions at the moment"
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Ulster Unionist Leader, David Trimble
"These actions may be designed to try and destabilise or frustrate the efforts of the government to secure the peace process"
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Sinn Fein, Alex Maskey
"I think that this action was both wrong and irresponsible"
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Monday, 5 March, 2001, 08:41 GMT
Bomb condemned as 'mindless'
BBC Television Centre
A dissident group is being blamed for the bombing
Home Secretary Jack Straw has condemned the weekend's car bomb attack on the BBC's news centre in west London as "mindless".

There are those outside the peace process who are set on trying to turn the clock back to the days before the Good Friday Agreement

Downing Street
He said that attack was a clear bid to undermine the Northern Ireland peace process.

"What is crucially important is that we do not allow this kind of mindless attack which could have led to a very considerable loss of life to disrupt that process," he told the BBC.

Mr Straw's comments came after politicians on all sides of the political spectrum branded the attack as a "cowardly act".

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We utterly condemn the attack.

"Those responsible can be in no doubt as to our determination to track them down and bring them to justice.

"There are those outside the peace process who are set on trying to turn the clock back to the days before the Good Friday Agreement.

"We will not allow them to take our focus from working with all parties to move the process on."

And Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said such attacks would not deter the government from pursuing its objective of taking the gun out of Irish politics.

'Terrific threat'

The shadow Northern Ireland secretary Andrew Mackay condemned the attack - but said it showed there was a "terrific terrorist threat" both in Northern Ireland and in Britain.

"This attack illustrates how dangerous and wrong it would be to reduce the security presence in Northern Ireland," he said.

Andrew Mackay, Tory Northern Ireland spokesman
MacKay: No arms have been handed in
"The sad truth is that the Belfast Agreement has not been fully implemented to the extent that there has been no decommissioning of illegally held arms and explosives; not one gun nor one ounce of Semtex has been handed in by any of the paramilitaries, republican or so-called loyalists who signed up to the agreement."

"The reality is that there are easily available guns and explosives for groups like the Real IRA to use in terrorist attacks."

Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble suggested the Real IRA had targeted London because recent attacks in Northern Ireland itself had failed.

Real IRA blamed

"It may be - and this is obviously speculation - it may be that frustrated in its efforts to pull off a spectacular in Northern Ireland, it has gone over to London to try there," said the Ulster Unionist leader.

"(Among) the reasons why it may be trying to pull off a spectacular is because of the efforts the government is making to persuade the mainstream IRA to honour its obligations on decommissioning and the fact that an election may be coming up shortly."

Seamus Mallon, deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
Mallon: Violence has no place in democracy
Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon also condemned the blast, saying there could be no justification for violence used for political ends.

And there was criticism, too, from a Sinn Fein member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Alex Maskey.

He said: "I view this action last night as both wrong and irresponsible and indeed we have consistently called on this micro-group not only to stop their activities but indeed to disband."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said the police had been right to warn people to be vigilant against bombs from dissident IRA groups.

"There is sadly no prospect of an end to the campaign in which a determined few want to kill, maim or disrupt the lives of the democratic many," he said.

"The price of peace and an absence of killing will have to be eternal vigilance."

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04 Mar 01 | Northern Ireland
Bomb 'attempt to break NI peace'
05 Mar 01 | UK
UK braced for bomb campaign
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