Flash: UUP withdraws from talks
The Ulster Unionist Party today pulled out of talks on the
implementation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Party leader Mr David Trimble said the British government's
failure to exclude Sinn Fein from the formal Review of the
Agreement over the alleged abduction attempt on dissident
republican Bobby Tohill was "quite appalling".
Mr Trimble added: "We have to show to paramilitaries our
government will not tolerate such blatant breaches of the peace."
Despite withdrawing from the review talks, Mr Trimble said the
UUP would continue to talk to other parties about the general
Trimble had been threatening to pull out of the talks for several
days. He is due to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair in
Downing Street tomorrow to discuss the Tohill incident and Sinn
Fein's continued involvement in the review talks.
Several people have been charged in connection with the alleged
abduction bid which, within hours of it happening, PSNI police
chief Hugh Orde blamed on the Provisional IRA. Unionists believe
Sinn Fein is inextricably linked to the mainstream IRA.
Last Wednesday, a source for the IRA said that it had not
authorised the action.
The Trimble withdrawal came as Irish and British ministers met
the parties in Belfast in the latest round of review talks. The
only issue on the agenda was the subject of continuing
It is the single issue which has been overshadowing the review,
launched with the aim of putting power back in the hands of the
locally elected politicians.
Northern Secretary Mr Paul Murphy and the Minister for Arts,
Sports and Tourism, Mr O'Donoghue, leading the discussions with
Mr Trimble announced his withdrawal after discussions with
British Direct Ruler Paul Murhpy and Dublin officials. He said
they had listened "but they said they are not in a position to
respond to the particular requests that we have put.
"So consequently, we are taking matters further. I and my
colleagues will go tomorrow to see the Prime Minister."
He said that until they get a positive response on the issue "we
are not going to participated further" in the review talks.
Sinn Fein assembly member Bairbre de Brun said the IRA posed no
threat to the peace process. Her comments reflected those of PSNI
chief Hugh Orde, who said today he did not believe the IRA
intended to return to conflict.
Ms de Brun accused the UUP leader of engaging in 'posturing
without substance'. She said:
"David Trimble signalled last week that he intended to leave the
Review. This is part of Mr. Trimble's competition with the DUP.
He is attempting to compete with the DUP on Ian Paisley's ground.
It is the wrong approach.
"Maybe if Mr Trimble had been so exercised about the recent
murder of a young Catholic in Lisburn or the attack last week by
unionist paramilitaries on a 105-year-old woman in North Belfast
then people could take his action today more seriously."