Main pro-British party to join N. Ireland talks
September 17, 1997
Web posted at: 8:42 a.m. EDT (1242 GMT)
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- Northern Ireland's main
Protestant party said it would eventually take part in peace
talks to expose what it considers the "fascist character" of
Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA. But the Ulster
Unionist Party (UUP) said it would not sit down for
Wednesday's round of talks.
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble made the statement
shortly before the third day of Northern Irish peace talks,
which for the first time include nationalist Sinn Fein, was
to get under way at Belfast's Stormont Castle.
Trimble said he was only at Stormont Wednesday for talks with
Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam, emphasizing
he would not attend the day's round-table talks on the future
of the British province.
What's at Stake|
At stake in this week's talks is the success or failure of
years of Anglo-Irish diplomacy, which has been aimed at getting
pro-British unionists and Irish nationalists to forge a
lasting settlement for Northern Ireland. About 3,200 people
have been killed in the decades-long conflict in the British
"We are not here to negotiate with them (Sinn Fein) but to
confront them, to expose their fascist character," Trimble
The Ulster Unionist Party, which wants continued British rule
in Northern Ireland, accused Sinn Fein and the IRA of
involvement in Tuesdays' bomb attack in Markethill, near
Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack, which caused
severe damage to a police station. The IRA, which restored
its unilateral cease-fire in July, denied that it was
The Ulster Unionists have boycotted the Stormont talks so far
because of their concerns that the IRA will not abide by the
principles underlying the talks.
These so-called Mitchell principles, named after the chairman
of the talks, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, say that
paramilitary groups should hand in at least some of their
weapons parallel to the talks.
The Ulster Unionists also said they did not trust Sinn Fein's
pledge to abide by another key Mitchell principle: to abstain
from violence as a means to political ends.
Trimble again underlined his party's position on Northern
Ireland Wednesday. "With Ulster Unionists at the table, there
will be no united Ireland. There will be no joint
sovereignty, no joint authority actual or disguised," he
"We are not prepared to tolerate Sinn Fein being portrayed as
the party of peace and the Unionists as the problem," he
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams called on the Ulster
Unionists to stop the "play-acting" and take part in the
"Their (UUP) strategy is to wreck this process. They are
mandated to sit down with us. We want the Unionists involved.
They are very welcome," Adams said.
In the wake of Tuesday's bomb attack, Mitchell urged the
province's leaders "not to give in to those who use these
reprehensible and immoral tactics." And Northern Ireland's
Foreign Secretary Ray Burke commented "It is obvious that
those who planted the bomb are attempting to damage this
talks process and the inclusive nature of it."
Reuters contributed to this report.