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CNN Today

Britain Suspends Northern Ireland Power-Sharing Government

Aired February 11, 2000 - 2:20 p.m. ET

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

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Developing news out of Northern Ireland: The power sharing government which has been in effect only 72 days is being suspended.

CNN's Nic Robertson joins us from Belfast, Northern Ireland with details -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just a few hours ago, Donna, Peter Mandelson, the British secretary of state for Northern Ireland, signed the document that would, in fact, suspend Northern Ireland's new power-sharing assembly. It's only been in operation now for about 72 days.

Minutes, literally, before he signed that document, before he put the suspension into effect, Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, issued a press statement in which they said there was a breakthrough, a significant proposal from the IRA. They said this proposal from the IRA laid out a context in which the IRA weapons could be decommissioned or disarmed, as it's known here.

Now Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, shortly after Peter Mandelson suspended the assembly, criticized him for not paying more attention to the detail in that IRA proposal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERRY ADAMS, SINN FEIN PRESIDENT: From what I learned in the news, that the British secretary of state has signed the papers to collapse the institutions here, that he has done so in the knowledge that there was a major breakthrough on this issue. I consider that he did so on the basis of a threat by the Ulster Unionist Party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: The main Protestant party here, the Ulster Unionist Party led by David Trimble, said that the situation will now go into a review process. And he said before his party went back into any power-sharing assembly that may be revived after that review process, he said that the issue of guns must be dealt with once and for all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID TRIMBLE, NORTHERN IRELAND FIRST MINISTER: We have taken risks; we have taken risks, and others, we are sorry, did not take the same risks and were not prepared to move. When we come back, then it must come back on a basis of equality, that we're all here simply on a Democratic basis and that there can be no further place in the politics of Northern Ireland for private armies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: The elements of any review are not clear at this time, whether it will just concern itself with the decommissioning, the handing in of terrorists weapons, or will other issues get drawn in, such as the reform of Northern Ireland's mostly Protestant police force, and issues such as the early release from prison of terrorists prisoners that's been happening for the last few years. These issues are likely to cloud any future debate over the review of weapons and other issues.

I'm Nic Robertson, reporting live from Stormont, Northern Ireland.

KELLEY: All right, Nic, thanks.

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