Gerry Adams warned yesterday that the task of getting the IRA to put its weapons beyond use had been made much more difficult by recent moves from David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist Party leader, and the British Government.
The Sinn Fein president, in a statement as trenchant as Mr Trimble's recent pronouncements, accused Unionists and the Government of lacking full commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Trimble, meanwhile, encountered procedural difficulties in putting down a motion to have Sinn Fein members expelled from the Belfast Assembly's cross-community administration. He had trouble gathering the 30 signatures necessary to put the motion on the agenda. Although the Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists also want Sinn Fein excluded, they have challenged Mr Trimble to sign up to their motion rather than bring forward his own. His proposed motion is unlikely to be discussed this week.
Mr Adams said of the move: "If you ask me what are the possibilities of getting the IRA to put weapons beyond use, I can only say that task has been made much more difficult. Even if progress is achieved on IRA weapons, the institutions will face collapse because the Unionists are not prepared to commit wholeheartedly to them." He said it was a disgrace John Reid, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, was calling on republicans to put weapons beyond use while loyalists waged a campaign against Catholics in north Belfast.
Meanwhile Alan McQuillan, an RUC Assistant Chief Constable, described rioting in north Belfast on Sunday as the worst in the city for 20 years. Fourteen officers were injured in disturbances.
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