The Ulster Unionist Council has announced it will meet on February 12th to review progress on decommissioning. If decommissioning has not got under way by that date, the Council could tell the North's First Minister, David Trimble, and his Unionist ministerial colleagues, to pull out of the North's Assembly Executive. The party said it called the meeting for that date in the expectation that the chairman of the Decommissioning Commission, John de Chastelain, will have produced a report by the end of the month.

The North's new education minister, Martin McGuinness, met his American counterpart in Washington this evening. Mr McGuinness and his officials also toured a special school. US Education Secretary Richard Riley said the United States would do whatever it could to help the North's new executive.

At a rally in New York last night, Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams, predicted that there could be a united Ireland in 16 years time, the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Mr Adams told Irish American supporters of Sinn Féin that the logic of the peace process would lead to unification. He said that his party wanted to make progress and that there was no reason why the 1916 rising could not be celebrated in 2016 in a united Ireland.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has strongly criticised the Parades Commission in the North, claiming it is fatally flawed. In its submission to a review of the commission, ordered by the British Government, Sinn Féin said it had lost the confidence of a large section of the community for being composed of too many people with connections to the RUC and the unionist community. Sinn Féin said the British Government had to appoint a new commission urgently that, it said, was broadly representative of the community.