Real IRA call for unity among all Republicans

Thursday 20 January 2000 22.03

In a statement to Belfast's "Irish News" tonight, the so-called Real IRA called for unity among all Republicans. There have been warnings from both the Gardaí and the RUC of a constant threat of violence in Ireland and Britain from dissident Republican paramilitaries opposed to the North's peace process. A Government spokesman said that the statement is no more than a repetition of their earlier attacks on the Good Friday Agreement.

The UUP deputy leader, John Taylor, has said that he believes direct rule will return within weeks, because he holds out little hope of an IRA arms hand-over by the end of this month. Two DUP ministers in the Stormont Assembly have urged the First Minister to pull out of the executive to save the RUC. Regional Development Minister, Peter Robinson, and Social Development Minister, Nigel Dodds, want Mr Trimble to join them in making the power-sharing executive collapse. The Ulster Unionists' Assembly chief whip, Jim Wilson, dismissed the DUP call as nonsense.

The Taoiseach and David Trimble said earlier that they are pleased with the progress achieved in the North over the past several months. They were speaking together after an hour-long meeting in Dublin. Bertie Ahern stressed that the government and the Northern Executive had fulfilled their obligations under the Good Friday Agreement and said that others must do likewise. Mr Trimble said that he had always been optimistic about the peace process, and that it was possible to work through difficulties.

Both men said that they were looking forward to the interim report on decommissioning, which is due later this month. Mr Trimble said that the Patten Report created difficulties for him, but he remain optimistic about the political process. Mr Trimble's meetings with the Taoiseach and opposition leaders took place as concern grows among some Ulster Unionists about, what they see as, the increasingly one-sided implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Trimble has said that he will consider calls for holding a special meeting of his party's executive following his failure to win any significant concessions on the implementation of the Patton Report. His comments came after an anti-Agreement party member, David Brewster, warned that plans to overhaul the RUC could bring down the Good Friday Agreement and its institutions.

Failure to save the title and badge of the RUC and no obvious progress on decommissioning has left the Ulster Unionist leader under considerable pressure. He had been urged by Lagan Valley MP, Jeffrey Donaldson, to make it clear to the Taoiseach that Unionists are angry about the "destruction" of the RUC and were demanding IRA disarmament.