Mr Trimble was expected to come under pressure from hardliners to pull out of George Mitchell's review of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement when the UUP's 110-member executive meets in Belfast. The former senator Mitchell returns to Stormont for the second week of the review as Unionist disquiet mounts following the publication of the Patten Commission's report on policing.
The UUP deputy leader, John Taylor, defected to the anti-Agreement lobby in response to the report, citing recent IRA activity as a reason for withdrawing support from the accord.
Jeffrey Donaldson, a hardline member of the UUP, said it was perhaps time the party abandoned the peace deal and found a new alternative. He said politicians should not "wait until the whole thing collapses", and he accused the British Government of creating the latest crisis by "turning a blind eye to IRA violence". He is one of seven MPs who now oppose the Agreement.
In the face of continuing problems, the RUC Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan, cautioned the Government not to reduce police numbers. "At present the security situation is not one that would enable the beginnings of some of those recommendations let alone their full implementation," he said.
The Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, said last night that republicans would "not accept anything less than an end to the RUC". Mr Adams described the reform of policing in the province as a "touchstone issue," and went on: "It is our view - and we stated this to the Patten Commission - that the RUC is not a police service and that its history, make-up, ethos and relationship with the nationalist and republican people make it totally unacceptable.
"A repackaged RUC will not attract any measure of support. Change must therefore include both symbols and substance."Reuse content