18/10/2001

Midnight withdrawal of UUP ministers

Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble has announced the resignation of the three UUP ministers in the Northern Ireland’s power sharing executive.

Mr Trimble made the announcement at Stormont around 4pm on Thursday October 18. He said that resignation letters from all ministers had been lodged and would take effect as of midnight tonight.

Explaining his decision Mr Trimble said: “The time for negotiations was a long time ago. There are no discussions. There are no negotiations. We take this decision with no pleasure, it has been a long time in coming. Ever since the IRA failed to keep its promise to put its weapons beyond use this problem became inevitable.”

Mr Trimble said that it was now over to the Secretary of State, Dr John Reid to move the make next move.

The UUP announcement follows last minute talks with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, Mark Durkan - leader in waiting of the SDLP and the Democratic Unionist Party leader Reverend Ian Paisley on Thursday in an attempt to save Northern Ireland's political institutions.

Dr John Reid’s hand has now been forced. The Northern Ireland Secretary will now be faced with the option of suspending the administration and triggering a review of the Belfast Agreement or reintroducing direct rule from Westminster.

However, there is a short time frame in which UUP ministers could be reinstalled without the institutions collapsing. Mr Trimble said today that his ministers would rejoin the Executive immediately if the IRA began “actual decommissioning in a meaningful and verifiable manner.” (AMcE)

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