30/04/2002

Temperatures elevated as debate rages on IRA ceasefire

Political temperatures have remained elevated following the failed Ulster Unionist motion calling for the Secretary of State to make a determination on the status of the IRA ceasefire.

Alliance party leader David Ford accused the SDLP of "sitting on their hands" for their refusal to back an amended motion put forward by Alliance, and Ulster Unionists angrily described the DUP’s decision to vote with Sinn Fein as an "unholy alliance.” PUP leader David Ervine said the process was clearly in "trouble".

UUP leader David Trimble said the DUP had "elected to let Sinn Fein / IRA off the hook, driven purely by bitter callousness. In fact they hate us more than they hate Sinn Fein.”

A spokesman for the UUP Assembly Group said: “There is no reason why the DUP could not have supported the UUP motion. Instead they decided to get into bed with Sinn Fein / IRA. They have demonstrated to the electorate that they are not interested in Unionist unity. It is obvious they simply wanted to use the occasion to attack David Trimble and the UUP.

“Then they made a total laughing stock of themselves by walking into the lobby hand in hand with Sinn Fein.

Last week, the US Foreign Relations Committee Hearing in Washington heard evidence that alleged links between the IRA and the FARC rebels in Colombia. Unionists also pointed to "intelligence sources" that indicate possible republican links to the Castlereagh break-in.

Alliance leader David Ford has criticised the SDLP for failing to work with other parties and for not backing a compromise motion on the status of the IRA ceasefire on Monday. He said: "It would appear that the SDLP is prepared to criticise terrorism, but actions speak louder than words, and the SDLP's action in the Assembly has been hard to see.

The proposed Alliance's amendment would have removed the implicit UUP suggestion of guilt on the IRA's part, and also taken into account loyalist violence.

However, prior to the vote SDLP leader Mark Durkan was adamant that his party would not be supporting the Ulster Unionist motion.

Speaking on Radio Ulster Mr Durkan said that in Northern Ireland turbulence was to be expected, but was no reason for threatening to "crash land" the political process.

(SP)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

19 June 2019
UUP Back Call For Action On Domestic Violence Laws
The leader of the Ulster Unionist Party has backed a call for Westminster to extend legislation that provides protection from coercive control to Northern Ireland. The demand originated with the Chief Inspector for Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland, Brendan McGuigan, for the law that covers the rest of Great Britain to be enacted.
10 March 2006
Political leaders receive invite to White House
The leaders of the main political parties in Northern Ireland have today been invited to the White House for St Patrick's Day celebrations. An official announcement is expected from the White House later, however it is understood that the politicians will not meet with US President, George Bush.
20 August 2018
Appeal Issued After Alliance Councillor Goes Missing
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long has appealed for information to help trace one of her councillors David Armitage. Mr Armitage represents part of east Belfast. Ms Long tweeted: "We need to locate him urgently. "The constituency office is open from 3.30pm, if you can help us search. If you see him, contact me. "David, if you see this, get in touch.
11 January 2013
Omagh Bomb Men Seek To Overturn Ruling
Two men held responsible for the Omagh bombing in 1998 are seeking to have the ruling overturned by the European Court of Human Rights. Jailed Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt and Liam Campbell are to challenge the ruling, due reportedly to their lawyers’ inability to cross-examine an FBI spy whose evidence was central to the case against them.
12 June 2019
Billy McKee Dies Aged 97
A former IRA leader has died at the age of 97. Billy McKee died at his home in Belfast on Tuesday, 11 June. He is believed to have joined the IRA in the 1930s. He left and joined Sinn Féin in the 1980s.