Clinton tells all parties to stick by Agreement

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Bill Clinton called on all the parties involved in the Northern Ireland peace process yesterday to stick with the Good Friday Agreement.

Bill Clinton called on all the parties involved in the Northern Ireland peace process yesterday to stick with the Good Friday Agreement.

The American President said the treaty was working but was "straining under intense criticism," a reference to Unionist disillusionment.

In an article written for The Belfast Telegraph, a sister paper of The Independent, Mr Clinton added: "I know that many in the Unionist community feel deeply uncomfortable with changes relating to security, and have concerns that the right to express British identity is being attacked."

His intervention came as a week of intense political activity was expected in the run-up to next Saturday's meeting of the Ulster Unionist Party's ruling council. Members are expected to hear demands for First Minister David Trimble, the party's leader, to pull out of the Northern Ireland Executive in the absence of IRA arms decommissioning.

Mr Clinton said the Agreement was clear in requiring all parties to commit themselves to total disarmament. He said the IRA had made unprecedented advances, but he looked forward to "further timely progress in this vital area".

This was taken as a broad hint that international monitors, who were shown some IRA guns earlier this year, should carry our a second inspection of arms dumps before Saturday. Others, who fear a Trimble defeat could be the beginning of the end for the Agreement, also urged IRA co-operation.

Seamus Mallon of the SDLP, the Deputy First Minister, said he was confident Mr Trimble would win. Mr Mallon added: "If anyone is interested in a little wager, I'll take it here and now." He said the executive, "will be there in two weeks' time, in two years' time and beyond that. The reality is it has now got a strength that will sustain it, and anyone who is looking at the various crises should be looking elsewhere."

* Christopher McWilliams, one of the killers of Loyalist leader Billy Wright denied yesterday that there was any Government collusion in his murder.

McWilliams, said as he was freed from prison in Co Londonderry: "A decision was taken to eliminate him because he was the man who directed a campaign of slaughter of Catholics."

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