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08/10/2001

UUP to walk from assembly if Sinn Féin exclusion motion fails

Two motions to exclude Sinn Féin from the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland were scheduled for debate in the assembly on Monday October 8.

Speaking in the assembly on Monday Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said that if his motion to exclude Sinn Féin failed, his party and its three ministers would leave the executive, thereby collapsing the institutions.

Motions have been submitted for debate from both the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to exclude Sinn Féin because the IRA had failed to disarm. However the possibility of this happening is remote, as Sinn Féin cannot be excluded unless there is agreement from the nationalist party SDLP, which has already maintained they do not believe in exclusivity tactics.

Mr Trimble said that his ministers would resign if his motion were defeated and that details would be released at the beginning of next week.

Speaking on Monday Mr Trimble said: “We went into this believing that it would be a process of transition.”

President of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams said during the debate that the Good Friday Agreement could not be renegotiated, he added: “There is no basis for an exclusion motion of this sort. I reject this motion and I reject the accusations being made against my party.”

He added that the motion was not about IRA decommissioning, he said, but rather it was about "the battle for the leadership of unionism".

Mr Adams said he was in no doubt that the issue of republican weapons was a huge issue for unionists, but they were largely silent on the issue of loyalist violence: "Many people listening to this debate will question whether the focus is only on one section of the arms."

SDLP acting deputy first leader Séamus Mallon said during the assembly debate that he felt that if the UUP withdrew from the executive it would cause “enormous damage to the peace process” and urged David Trimble to “rethink” his course of action. (AMcE)

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