Mowlam in plea over arms deadlock arms

THE GOVERNMENT yesterday urged David Trimble and Gerry Adams to agree some sort of compromise in a bid to end the paramilitary disarmament deadlock which is threatening the future of the Northern Ireland peace process.

With the republican leadership resisting Ulster Unionist pressure to begin getting rid of their weapons and explosives, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mo Mowlam, admitted the 10 March deadline may not be met for the start of the transfer of legislative powers from London to Belfast.

All sides are due back at Stormont on Monday 15 February for a critical debate aimed at endorsing the creation of 10 ministerial departments as part of the devolved administration, and a number of cross-border bodies. But without any move by the Provisionals on decommissioning, Mr Trimble, the First Minister and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, will oppose the setting up of a ruling executive which would include two Sinn Fein representatives.

Tensions between rival pro- and anti-agreement republican factions, sectarian bombings by dissident loyalists and the increasing number of paramilitary punishment beatings - has heightened the pressure on London and Dublin to try and find a breakthrough.

Ms Mowlam insisted yesterday that the peace process was not unravelling, but admitted it was at a difficult stage which needed everyone to keep their nerve and for Unionists and republicans to reach a compromise on guns.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, decommissioning was not a precondition but an obligation. Senior republicans have, however, ruled out any chance of IRA disarmament at this stage - and with Mr Trimble having been warned by his own party that this is the one major issue on which he cannot, and must not give way, the peace process is edging into a critical phase.

The Prime Minister is desperate to negotiate a resolution ahead of another loyalist marching season, the forthcoming European elections and the publication of a report by an independent commission, headed by the former governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten on the future of the RUC and long-term policing arrangements.

Ms Mowlam, who is expected have a new round to talks with all the parties, accepted the timetable for change in Northern Ireland may fall behind.

She said: "We missed the Good Friday Agreement by a couple of days. We may well miss this. I'm aiming for it. The people are aiming for it, but nothing is written in stone. "

Meanwhile as another two victims of punishment beatings recovered yesterday, Ms Mowlam said the attacks would not halt the early releases of jailed paramilitants.

An 18-year-old girl needed treatment for cuts and bruises to her arms, legs and head when she was attacked with a baseball bat by armed men who broke into a house in a loyalist area of Belfast. Earlier, a 50-year- old man was beaten with a baseball bat and sticks when masked men forced their way into a house in Newtownabbey, another loyalist area.

Ms Mowlam told BBC's Breakfast With Frost programme yesterday: "Many of the beatings, not all, are carried out by people who are not on ceasefire and who don't want to see the process work. Stopping prisoner releases would achieve very little ... it would create the exact opposite and undermine the agreement."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition