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Thursday, August 26, 1999 Published at 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Trimble 'deeply disappointed'

The IRA has not broken its ceasefire, the government says

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has described Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam's statement that the IRA ceasefire is in intact as "deeply disappointing".

The Search for Peace
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The statement on the state of the IRA ceasefire has been met with widespread condemnation from the unionist community in Northern Ireland.

Mr Trimble, who is also the Northern Ireland's First Minister, said events such as the murder of Belfast taxi driver Charles Bennett left no doubt about the republican ceasefire.

David Trimble: "Deeply disappointing"
He said: "We have every reason to believe that the IRA as an organisation was behind the murder of Mr Bennett as it was behind the murder of other people in Northern Ireland this year and was also behind the attempted importation of weapons into the Belfast area."

He continued: "These must be regarded as breaches of a ceasefire.

"That is where I find the secretary of state's statement deeply disappointing and deeply flawed.

[ image: David Trimble: Shooting people is not a ceasefire]
David Trimble: Shooting people is not a ceasefire
"This is a breach of a ceasefire and I'm sorry the secretary of state was not able to tell the people the simple truth."

Mr Trimble said he was concerned that Dr Mowlam appeared to be accepting the IRA's definition of events

He said: "I do not accept the IRA's definition of a ceasefire.

"A ceasefire is a ceasefire is a ceasefire and you're not on a ceasefire if you are shooting people."

Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson called for Dr Mowlam to resign, saying: "She has lost all credibility and should do the honourable thing."

The Ulster Unionist spokesman, Ken Maginnis, said Dr Mowlam was continually under pressure to "capitulate IRA-Sinn Fein".

[ image:  ]
He said: "I really think the secretary of state's announcement has been totally inadequate, she really is an absolute disgrace."

Mr Maginnis said his party had lost all confidence in the Northern Ireland secretary.

Ian Paisley Junior, a member of the hardline Democratic Unionist Party, described the decision as "despicable" and a "handwashing exercise".

He said: "It is the king of sops to terrorism.

"Clearly the IRA has got away with murder."

[ image: Jeffrey Donaldson:
Jeffrey Donaldson: "A sick joke"
Conservative Chairman Michael Ancram also condemned Dr Mowlam's statement.

He said: "I find it incredible, I find it illogical and I think it is a fudge."

But Sinn Fein Chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said Dr Mowlam's statement was the only decision available.

'Sick society'

He said: "There is a considerable amount of violence and it emanates from right across this very sick society.

"There is no acceptable violence and we have to work to a position where it stops and where people are not injured."

SDLP leader John Hume condemned the murder of Mr Bennett but said it was important "to work to get a society without any violence on the streets".

He said: "We've had enormous progress. No one would have believed five or 10 years ago we'd have got this far.

"It's our duty to do everything in our power now to implement the [Good Friday] Agreement and achieve lasting peace and lasting stability."

Irish Junior Foreign Minister Liz O'Donnell said that Dublin "fully shares and supports" Dr Mowlam's statement.

She added: "We wish to make clear however, that we deplore and condemn each and every act of violence."

Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland spokesman Lembit Opik said: "Mo Mowlam is clearly trying to steer a pragmatic course between declaring the ceasefire over and maintaining the status quo."

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