Mowlam denounces IRA expulsions as 'repugnant'

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The Independent Online
THE NORTHERN IRELAND Secretary, Mo Mowlam, last night branded the expulsion threats made by the IRA against five young men "repugnant and unacceptable".

She reminded republicans that the IRA ceasefire was "under close review". Last Thursday Dr Mowlam ruled that the ceasefire was still intact, despite the murder of a Catholic taxi driver in Belfast.

Last night John Taylor, deputy leader of the Ulster Unionists, said the chance of a settlement in Northern Ireland in the next few months was "nil" in the light of recent IRA actions.

Earlier last night Dr Mowlam faced renewed calls for her resignation after it emerged that she spent yesterday at a Robbie Williams concert, while her aides tried to cover up her whereabouts.

Her decision to travel to Dublin for the concert - amid heightened tensions in the province over a series of IRA death threats - was likened by outraged Ulster Unionists to Nero's fiddling as Rome burned.

The Unionist MP and security spokesman Ken Maginnis commented: ''She has lost all sense of reality. She is more preoccupied with pop and Pavarotti than she is with peace and political process.

''She was on a television comedy chat show on Friday night and now she is at a pop concert. While she is rocking in the aisles, five young men are having to flee because of IRA death threats.

''The IRA is obviously capitalising on her inability to act. Her judgement has become so flawed she is incapable of resolving problems. The sooner she is relieved of her duties, the better,'' added Mr Maginnis.

The party leader, David Trimble, was also critical of Dr Mowlam and said that if she implemented a get-tough policy on the IRA they would not be issuing expulsion orders.

''We've reason to believe that the republican movement were worried about the approach she might take over the ceasefire, and after she said it wasn't broken they've decided to continue in their old ways. As for the pop concert, I don't wish to comment at this stage.''

t The home of an SDLP member of the Northern Ireland Assembly has been petrol-bombed in an attack blamed on loyalists. Previous attacks on the home of Danny O'Connor led him to install toughened window glass, which resisted yesterday's attack.

Mr O'Connor condemned those responsible but said he would not be intimidated.