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Wednesday, July 7, 1999 Published at 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK

UK Politics

DUP sceptical about weapons promise

Stormont: The possible location of any new Assembly

Unionists cannot trust Tony Blair's promise that Sinn Fein will be excluded from the Northern Ireland executive unless there is IRA decommissioning, Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader Peter Robinson has claimed.

The East Belfast MP said he doubted whether the "failsafe" mechanisms in British and Irish proposals to achieve devolution and decommissioning in the province would compel republicans to disarm.

Mr Robinson, whose party opposes the Good Friday Agreement, said he could not understand why Ulster Unionists were "hanging around for promises from someone who has deceived them in the past".

The Search for Peace
He told BBC Radio Ulster: "We had all the promises during the referendum campaign when Mr Blair told us prisoner releases would be halted if they [the IRA] do not decommission.

"Now we are being told to believe that if on this occasion they don't decommission, then the sentences will be upheld.

[ image: Peter Robinson:
Peter Robinson: "The prime minister cannot be believed"
"This prime minister cannot be believed. The only currency that a prime minister or a politician has is whether they keep their word or not."

Republicans had not wanted the Northern Ireland Assembly in the first place, Mr Robinson claimed.

But he said its disbandment would not be an effective sanction against them for not disarming.

"Nothing the IRA has said to date would indicate that the IRA has any intention of decommissioning," he said.

The DUP deputy leader, whose party is one of several meeting Northern Ireland Office political development minister Paul Murphy on Wednesday, said there was no incentive for the IRA to dispose of its weapons.

During the meeting, parties will be seeking clarification on the government's position over the failsafe mechanisms.

Under the Way Forward proposals, the IRA must start decommissioning its weapons within days of the assembly's executive being formed on 15 July or the new body will be suspended.

However, parties on both sides of the sectarian divide have expressed varying levels of concern.

The Ulster Unionist Party has so far refused to back the proposals. It says they do not provide adequate guarantees that decommissioning would take place.

On the other side of the political fence Sinn Fein has also been seeking assurances from the government.

It wants a pledge that there would be no interference in the early release of paramilitary prisoners.

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