04/03/2002

DUP leads assembly motion to exclude Sinn Féin

The Democratic Unionist Party has led a motion called for the republican party Sinn Féin to be excluded from the Northern Ireland executive for a year.

The motion, which has gathered 30 signatures from anti-agreement unionists, is to be debated at a special session on Wednesday March 6.

The motion, in the names of the Democratic Unionist Party's Ian Paisley and William McCrea, United Unionist Denis Watson and UK Unionist Robert McCartney, states that Sinn Féin should be excluded because of the IRA's retention of weapons.

It also cites "continuing IRA engagement in murder and violence" and that it is inextricably linked to Sinn Fein.

DUP chief whip Maurice Morrow said his party was tabling the motion because they believe Sinn Féin are unfit to be in government. He said: “We have been told SF are good partners in government and that they are wedded to peace and the political process. However we still have no transparent decommissioning. The events surrounding Coalisland surely highlights this.”

Four men were arrested in Coalisland two weeks ago following a police raid which uncovered a fully primed warhead and a rocket launcher. The four men were charged with possession of a grenade launcher and warhead with intent to endanger life and conspiring to murder members of the security forces. The men denied the charges and were remanded in custody until March 19.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen White said the find had undoubtedly saved lives and represented a significant success against dissident republican terrorists.

Mr Morrow said this event; taken together with the murder of Matthew Burns (26) which has also been blamed on dissident republicans in Castlewellan on February 22 highlighted how inappropriate it was for Sinn Féin to be in government.

“It is quite clear they still have arms and they ready for action,” he said.

Mr Morrow said that ideally the best outcome of the motion would be to gather support from the Ulster Unionist Party for Sinn Féin’s ejection.

However, comments made in the Assembly chamber on Monday from Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble has indicated that this is will be highly unlikely.

Mr Trimble said: “The sole reason for this activity is just a stunt with regard to the annual meeting of our party.

“If the people who put the motion in were serious, they wouldn't be sitting sharing power with Sinn Fein. They wouldn't be sitting in committees with Sinn Féin”. (AMcE)

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