Trimble threatens to step up Sinn Fein sanctions

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has threatened to step up his sanctions against Sinn Fein if the IRA fails to decommission its weapons.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has threatened to step up his sanctions against Sinn Fein if the IRA fails to decommission its weapons.

The Northern Ireland First Minister said after a meeting of his party's 110-member executive in Belfast that the UUP will continue to ban Sinn Fein ministers from attending North South Ministerial Council meetings.

He also hinted that further sanctions may be be imposed.

"The party today has endorsed again the action we took and in particular the reassertion of that sanction which I have made earlier this week," he said.

"Furthermore, the party has endorsed our proposal, our intention over the course of coming weeks and months to continue that pressure, to sustain that pressure in whatever ways are available to us and indeed, where appropriate, to increase that pressure, which we intend to do.

"Let there be no mistake about it, we are determined to achieve both devolution and decommissioning."

Mr Trimble was speaking after a three-hour meeting of the 110-member executive where he faced some of his sternest critics in the party.

Among those who had gathered to hear his plans for the coming weeks were leading anti-Good Friday Agreement MPs Jeffrey Donaldson, William Ross and William Thompson. Sources at the meeting said Mr Trimble outlined the number of options open to him against Sinn Fein.

These include prohibiting his cabinet colleagues, Martin McGuinness and Bairbre de Brun, from attending cross-border body meetings with the Irish Government, intergovernmental conferences involving the British and Irish governments and all the devolved administrations in the UK, and also the possibility of an exclusion motion in the Assembly against Sinn Fein.

Mr Trimble said after the meeting that he wanted to see nationalists and republicans assume the same responsibility for society as Ulster Unionists had shown throughout the process.

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