Calls for exclusion of Sinn Fein
The failure to bring charges of IRA membership or arms possession
against the four men involved in the incident on Friday night
could ease the pressure on Sinn Fein in the current talks
However, unionists have predictably called for Sinn Fein to be
excluded from the current review of the 198 Good Friday
Ahead of a meeting with British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy in
Belfast, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble demanded the
British government take action against republicans.
Mr Trimble recalled that Sinn Fein had been previously excluded
from negotiations because of continuing paramilitary activity by
"What we are going to impress today on the Secretary of State is
that he does that, that he excludes Sinn Fein from these
discussions until there is an end to paramilitary activity.
"It is pertinent when we look at what happened over the weekend
that we say where is the referee? And isn't it time that people
were shown more than just a yellow card?"
Mr Trimble challenged the DUP on whether they were prepared to
continue the review without Sinn Fein.
DUP leader Ian Paisley earlier said he would be demanding a
British government ruling on the IRA ceasefire.
"It is clear the IRA remains a fully armed and active terror
machine that has no intention of leaving its violent, murderous
and criminal activities behind," Mr Paisley said.
"The chief constable's admission that punishment beatings that go
on in republican communities are carried out by the IRA
vindicates our view that Sinn Fein/IRA will have to meet all
elements of the criteria laid out by the prime minister before
they could be considered to be a democratic party sitting at the
table on an equal basis."
Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin responded by saying that Dr
Paisley has built his political career on rejecting accommodation
such as the Good Friday Agreement.
"We should understand this in its proper context," he said.
view is it doesn`t threaten the Good Friday Agreement. My view is
that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Agreement or the
peace process is under threat from republicans.
"Rather the threat comes from those who failed to make politics
Mr McLaughlin also dismissed criticism from the Irish Justice
Minister Michael McDowell, claiming his comments were motivated
by concerns about Sinn Fein's electoral rise in the 26 Counties
in the run-up to this June's local government and European
Mr McDowell accused Sinn Fein of "vomit-making hypocrisy" by
pushing for political concessions while the IRA "pretends" to
"They are trying to have it both ways; having a private army,
having a private police force. The IRA is trying to pretend it is
on military ceasefire. It is a police state within a police
Stressing the attack on Mr Tohill was designed to kill, Mr
McDowell said: "The perpetrators wore boiler suits. You don't
have to be an Einstein to know that a very serious crime was in
The Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern described the
kidnap bid as "a very serious matter".
"I am naturally disappointed that events like this are still
happening," Mr Ahern said.
"But I am a realist. What I have been pointing out for months on
end now is that we have brought the peace process to a stage
where the way forward is fairly clear and that we have an end to
paramilitarism by everybody."
The SDLP's Alex Attwood said it was now essential that the
leadership of republicanism "faced down" members of the IRA
he said were engaged in illegal paramilitary and criminal
"Whether it is exiling, punishment attacks, recruitment,
organised criminal activity and all the rest, the republican
movement must now travel all the way without delay.
"All their criminal activity must end. All violence must stop.
There is no basis for a private army and we all need to see
Mr Adams said there was a choice for people who were quick to
pass judgment on the incident.
"Do they value the Sinn Fein peace strategy and our contribution
to the peace process, including our ongoing efforts to bring an
end to physical force republicanism, or do they not?" the Sinn
Fein President asked.
"If they do not and prefer instead to stick with the old agenda
then it is they who undermine the peace process not Sinn Fein."