PARTIES SET OUT STALLS
The Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble is seeking visible
arms decommissioning from the IRA as part of any resolution of
the political stalemate.
Sinn Fein and Ulster Unionist delegations have met four times
in the last two weeks as part of continuing efforts to broker
a peace deal, and there is cautious optimism s that progress
is being made.
It is thought that October 16th is the deadline for a
resolution if there is to be a November 13th election to a
restored Belfast Assembly. That date is preferred by the
politicians because a later election would mean canvassers
would be working in the dark.
Mr Trimble has told reporters that he wanted clear evidence
that the IRA arms have been put beyond use, and said that he
expected that this would be put in the public domain.
"This time any act of decommissioning has to be credible in
the public's eye".
He said he expected there to be physical evidence published.
"This time around it has to be more than words."
He also repeated there had to be acts of completion from the
IRA that were "immediate and permanent". He insisted that this
would involve a statement the war was over, an end of all IRA
activity and "closure" on the arms issue.
With negotiations still continuing, Mr Trimble said he was
also at odds with the British government over some of the
details of demilitarisation.
Responding to David Trimble's statement, Sinn Fein's chief
negotiator Martin McGuinness said that Mr Trimble was
demanding something "outside the terms of reference" of the
arms decommissioning body, set up as part of the 1998 Good
"I think everybody has to be very realistic and they have to
understand that this isn't really a single item agenda," he
"I think there is a very unhealthy focus put on the
responsibility of republicans when clearly there is a lot of
work to be done by David Trimble around issues like the
sustainability of the institutions."
'IRA COULD GO AWAY' - ADAMS
This week, the political focus was switching to Bournemouth in
England today as politicians head for the annual conference of
the British Labour Party.
Sinn Fein has sent the biggest team - Martin McGuiness, North
Belfast representative Gerry Kelly and European election
candidate Bairbre de Brun.
But Mr Adams will stey in Belfast, where he has hinted that
the IRA is prepared to disband as part of a deal to reinstate
the Belfast Assembly and the northern institutions.
In one of a series of newspaper interviews to promote his new
book, Mr Adams said: "If people ask: `When is the IRA going to
go away?', the answer lies with the Taoiseach and the
[British] prime minister and the unionist leadership, as well
as with the IRA itself."
Adams said the retirement of the IRA had been a long-term goal
of Sinn Fein's peace process strategy.
"When I say that we want to bring an end to physical force
republicanism, that clearly means bringing an end to the
organisation or the vehicle of physical force republicanism."
However, Adams also cautioned against expecting movement
without reciprocation. "I've already warned the governments
this week that they shouldn't set the bar too high," he said.
"The governments need to be realistic and reasonable about
what is doable."
He said what was expected was the implementation of a a range
of outstanding matters within the Good Friday Agreement,
mentioning the transfer of power on policing and justice back
to a Northern administration and reform of the Human Rights
Recounting that Martin McGuinness had been stopped by the
British Army in Derry last week nine years after the IRA
cessation, he said demilitarisation was also high on the
He also revealed what was being sought by the British
"On the other hand, what the governments are asking for is an
end to the IRA and I suppose the continuation of the process
of putting arms beyond use. I don't want to be unfair, maybe
they're looking for slightly more, but I think that's the
"We'll do our best on those matters, but there's no point in
going near the IRA unless you have the other stuff totted up.
On what basis are you going to appeal to them?
"Especially given the poisonous atmosphere that was created,
not just by Tony Blair rejecting IRA initiatives, but also by
the cancellation of the election."
Mr Adams also pressed for commitments from the unionist side
not to collapse the Assembly and the institutions.
"There needs to be nationalist and republican confidence in
unionism. There need to be assurances that they'll sustain the
institutions," he said.