Trimble threatens to quit talks over kidnapping

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David Trimble, the leader of the Ulster Unionists, warned yesterday that his party would pull out of talks to revitalise the Northern Ireland peace process unless the Government acts over a republican kidnapping.

He told Tony Blair it was "utterly unreasonable" to expect his party to remain in talks with "these people". He said the kidnapping of Bobby Tohill, the dissident republican, from a Belfast City bar would have resulted in murder but for the police's intervention. He described it as "a kidnap which was the work of mainstream republicans, which are led by the persons who have been returned here to serve for Mid Ulster [Martin McGuinness] and West Belfast [Gerry Adams]."

Mr Trimble said the Government's response was "moral cowardice". He told the Prime Minister: "Unless you can summon up the courage to act on this matter within the next few days, then I and my colleagues will take steps next week to bring this process to an end."

Mr Blair declined to comment on the individual case but warned: "If it is shown to be the mainstream IRA... then obviously action will have to follow."