06/05/2003

UUP MLA challenges SF over republican 'action'

Mid-Ulster UUP assembly member Billy Armstrong has challenged to Sinn Fein to qualify what they are doing in order to bring to an end all forms of republican activity including that of dissidents.

Mr Armstrong made the call following the discovery of a bomb outside a government building in Belfast city centre in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The device, which was in a van parked outside the motor tax office in Upper Queen Street, contained three pipe bombs and three fuel containers and was blamed on dissident republicans. Mr Armstrong said: “The time has arrived for Sinn Fein/IRA to deliver acts of completion and rightly so. The IRA is currently under the spotlight for a catalogue of terrorist related incidents, some of which have been proven and others under investigation.

“However my question to Sinn Fein/IRA is; ‘what are you doing to bring to an end all forms of republican activity?

“Gerry Adams claims that there needs to be ‘action pronto’ by the governments. I put it to Mr Adams that ‘action pronto’ is what is required of Sinn Fein/IRA, it is you are holding up the process via your inability to persuade the republican movement that the Belfast Agreement presently is the best way forward to achieve stable government.

"Elections can only happen when Northern Ireland’s people have received clarification and safeguard that Sinn Fein/IRA’s war is over and that their militant capabilities are at an end. Until that point there is simply no justifiable reason for elections to proceed."

Yesterday's security operation began shortly after midnight on Sunday when police received a call from a man who said a package had been placed in his van.

He claimed to have been ordered to drive from the Ardoyne area to Upper Queen Street.

Army bomb disposal experts eventually carried out several controlled explosions before making safe the device.

(MB)

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