02/10/2001

Moves to censure Sinn Féin go forward for debate

The Northern Ireland Assembly’s business committee have decided to allow the debate of two separate motions calling for the exclusion of Sinn Féin from devolved government to proceed on Monday.

Both motions were tabled on the basis that the IRA have refused to decommission arms and failed to meet agreed timetables to do so.

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader David Trimble managed to get the motion put forward when the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) agreed to sign up. With links to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) a paramilitary organisation that has failed to decommission, the PUP’s David Ervine admitted that there was a degree of hypocrisy involved, but agreed that it was the only sane course of action under the circumstances.

While the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have tabled a separate motion on the same issue with support drawn from the UUP. A previous motion in July, advanced by the DUP was rejected as it failed to get cross-party support.

However, speaking on Tuesday morning on BBC Radio Ulster, Mr Trimble gave the first indication that the UUP would be prepared to back the DUP motion if the UUP’s motion failed to get support. He said that the UUP’s decision to withdraw from the Assembly should the motion prove unsuccessful remained unchanged.

Withdrawal of the UUP would collapse the Assembly and either force a re-election or the resumption of direct rule from Westminster.

On Tuesday Mr Trimble and Sir Reg Empey were scheduled to visit Dublin to explain the case for excluding Sinn Féin members from the executive of the Northern Ireland Assembly. (SP)

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