29/09/2005

DUP hold talks with 'decommissioning' clergy

The DUP has today been holding talks with the two churchmen who witnessed the recent final act of decommissioning by the IRA.

Former Methodist President Rev Harold Good and Catholic priest Father Alex Reid were invited by the party to Thursday's meeting after leader Ian Paisley said that both clergymen were "IRA nominated" and thus were in no way independent.

Details have yet to emerge from today's meeting however Dr Paisley and his party are believed to have pressed both men on how they were appointed and what they saw.

Meanwhile, North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has rounded on Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain after he stated that the Government would not publish estimates of the number of weapons contained in the IRA arsenal.

Mr Dodds said he found it "somewhat startling" that the Secretary of State had refused to publish details of the number of weapons which the Government estimated were held by the republican group.

"At a time when the Government should be recognising that there is an obvious lack of confidence within the unionist community, they have yet again missed the opportunity to restore a measure of confidence within unionism," Mr Dodds said.

"The very fact that Peter Hain is refusing to publish these details has only served to heighten growing suspicions about this most recent act."

Mr Hain said he could not divulge such figures in light of national security.

"I am not going to risk the security of Northern Ireland, or national security in any way by compromising intelligence sources, therefore no, we will not publish those estimates," he told the BBC.

(MB/SP)

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