Talks have continued at Stormont between the pro-Agreement parties in advance of Senator George Mitchell's return to Belfast on Wednesday. The Senator extended his review of the Good Friday Agreement last week after signs that the discussions were becoming more constructive. The Ulster Unionists have met with Sinn Féin. As the Sinn Féin team entered Stormont, the party's North Belfast Assemblyman, Gerry Kelly, said that they were still eager to bridge the gap between them and the Ulster Unionists on IRA disarmament. The Ulster Unionists are still demanding that the IRA decommission its weapons before Sinn Féin can claim its seats on the Executive. The pro-Agreement parties believe that Senator Mitchell will give them until Friday at least to try to resolve their differences.

The new Northern Secretary, Peter Mandelson, met the RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan this afternoon. He warned that nobody would have a decent future in the North unless the Good Friday Agreement was implemented. The British Conservative Party spokesman on the North, Andrew McKay, also held talks with a delegation of SDLP Assembly members at Stormont.

Mr. Mandelson has defended his predecessor Mo Mowlam's verdict in August that the IRA ceasefire was holding. As a judicial review of her decision opened in Belfast's High Court, Mr. Mandelson said that he believed the decision was the best in the circumstances. The case has been brought by Michele Williamson, whose parents were killed in the IRA bomb in the Shankill Road in 1993. Today Reg Weir QC told the Court that the former Northern Secretary "went off the rails" in her assessment that the IRA had not breached the ceasefire. Mr. Justice Kerr reserved judgement for a week and said he would give the case the utmost consideration.