07/08/2001

UUP dismiss IICD report and peace blueprint

Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble’s response to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) report has been to again reiterate that the IRA must put its arms beyond use and must decommission its weapons.

He also attacked the SDLP’s position on policing as “deeply disappointing” and said it was a “wholly inadequate response” to the proposals.

Seizing on the decommissioning issue Mr Trimble said that his party would not be able to support the peace package unless there was evidence that the IRA was actually destroying weapons. He said that Ulster Unionists had twice formed an administration on the basis that decommissioning was imminent only to be disappointed each time.

Following a meeting of senior Ulster Unionist Party officers last night (Monday 7 August), Mr Trimble said: “In the absence of actual decommissioning in a manner to maximise public confidence by Republicans, and in the absence of the SDLP moving to support policing, there is nothing for Ulster Unionists to respond to”.

Ominously, prior to the Tuesday meeting Mr Trimble said that there were “matters in the Governments proposals, such as an amnesty, to which we take the strongest exception.”

While both the British Prime Minister and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern welcomed the IICD report as a positive move forward, following a two-hour meeting of UUP party officers appeared united in their stance that the statement was a hollow gesture given the timing of the statement and the IRA’s failure to decommission despite two previously extended deadlines.

Mr Trimble stood by his decision to resign as First Minister of the Assembly, and the party backed calls for the IRA to begin decommissioning.

With the peace process effectively in tatters, the statement released by the IICD, headed by General John de Chastelain, was slammed by unionists who pointed out that the statement contained neither a reference to a timetable nor any hint on the method by which decommissioning would be achieved.

Consequently, while the UUP were set to have a further meeting on Tuesday 8 August, it looked as though the attempted overtures of the IRA to the decommissioning body were being viewed as too little too late, particularly with the tight timescale that now facing the former pro-agreement parties.

Several Northern Ireland parties remain overdue on submitting their official comments on the peace package. The deadline for submissions was midnight on Monday 6 August, but has been extended to allow more parties to comment.

(SP)

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