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CNN Today

Great Britain Suspends Power of Northern Ireland Government

Aired February 11, 2000 - 1:07 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We have been telling you that the Northern Ireland new power assembly was in danger of losing its power today. Britain, at last report, has stripped the Northern Ireland government of its power, and we have Nic Robertson following the story who joins us now live to tell us what's happened.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, in the last few minutes the British secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Peter Mandelson, has suspended the power-sharing assembly here. We have now heard from the leader of the main Protestant party here, the moderate Protestant party, David Trimble, and he said he was saddened but the suspension but he felt that it was necessary because the IRA had not handed in any weapons.

We understand that the assembly and the peace process here will go into a state of review. There are no details at this time specifically what the suspension means. We do know that the powers of the assembly here will be effectively put on hold; what else will happen we don't know. The review process also, no information on that, but what it is likely to do is to try and restart the assembly as soon as possible.

And Mr. Trimble, the leader of the Protestant Ulster Unionist Party, said that he could not see a way that the assembly could restart again until the issue of arms is completely dealt with, he said; that needs to be put to one side so that it can no longer hold up the peace process. And as he says, all weapons, as envisioned in the 1998 peace agreement, should be handed in by the 22nd of May. And it's clear at this time that he is calling for not only verbal commitments but for actual decommissioning and handing in of weapons by the IRA before he will get back into government with all the political parties, in particular Sinn Fein here, who represent the IRA -- Lou.

WATERS: Nic Robertson in Northern Ireland today.

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