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Monday, July 19, 1999 Published at 07:40 GMT 08:40 UK

UK Politics

Donaldson denies Trimble challenge

Jeffrey Donaldson (left) denies a challenge

The Ulster Unionist MP and prominent anti-Agreement campaigner Jeffrey Donaldson has denied that he is mounting a challenge to David Trimble's leadership of the party.

"I have never allowed a difference about policy or a difference regarding our views towards the Agreement to come in the way of what is a friendship," said Mr Donaldson.

The Search for Peace
The Lagan Valley MP has only recently rejoined the Ulster Unionist negotiating team after walking out of talks just prior to the announcement of the Good Friday Agreement.

His main bone of contention was the failure, as he saw it, of the Agreement to guarantee decommissioning.

He now wants the proposed review to consider every aspect of the Agreement and its implementation.

"Unionists have honoured all their obligations in this regard," he said. "The most stark statistics on that balance sheet will surely be those regarding the terrorist prisoners released - 280 - as against the guns and explosives decommissioned by the republican and loyalist paramilitaries."

Interlinked in Agreement

He warned that the prisoner release scheme should stop immediately if all guns are not decommissioned by May 2000.

[ image: Donaldson: SDLP leadership
Donaldson: SDLP leadership "should break with republicans"
"Decommissioning and prisoner release are inter-linked in the same agreement and the government cannot ignore this."

He called on the SDLP's leadership of John Hume and Seamus Mallon to break with republicans and to "move forward with unionists to construct a democratic alternative to the politics of stalemate and conflict".

He also warned the former talks chairman, George Mitchell, that any future involvement by him in the review must be focused firmly on solving the arms decommissioning issue.

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