TITLE=NORTHERN IRELAND (S-L) ALT
INTRO: British Northern Ireland Secretary Peter
Mandelson says he is confident the Irish Republican
Army will hand in its weapons and comply with a U-S
mediated peace deal. The deal approved Saturday by
the Protestant Ulster Unionist party paves the way for
a joint Protestant and Catholic government as early as
this week. But, as Lourdes Navarro reports from
London, there are still obstacles on the road to a
TEXT: Ulster Unionists approved the plan that will
have them sharing government with the Irish-
Republican-Army-linked Sinn Fein before the guerilla
group hands in its weapons.
In return for Sinn Fein sharing power, the I-R-A must
begin negotiations to disarm on the same day the new
cabinet is assembled.
Northern Ireland Secretary Mandelson told the B-B-C he
is confident the I-R-A will honor its pledge. But he
also promised the Ulster Unionists that he would
suspend the new government if the I-R-A does not turn
in its arms.
/// ACT MANDELSON //
If decommissioning then did not follow, then I
would act and suspend the operation of the
devolved government and that was a safety net,
if you like, that they were entitled to receive
and which I have given.
/// END ACT MANDELSON //
// REST OPT FOR LONG //
To get the Unionists to back the plan, leader David
Trimble had to postpone its final ratification until
February -- giving his group the opportunity to stop
the peace process if the I-R-A has not started handing
over its weapons by then. He also offered to resign.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams expressed his party's
anger at the compromise. Mr. Adams said deferring the
decision would lead to uncertainty.
U-S mediator George Mitchell is praising the Ulster
Unionist's decision to approve the deal he spent two-
months mediating. Mr. Mitchell, who was also one of
the architects of the original Good Friday Accord of
1998, says it is a very significant step forward. But
he is also warning that the peace process is -- not
out of the woods yet.
International pressure on both sides to remain
committed is strong and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and President
Clinton hailed the latest developments.
Northern Ireland's new government could be in power as
early as Thursday -- the first time in a generation
the two sides have governed together. (SIGNED)
28-Nov-1999 10:31 AM EDT (28-Nov-1999 1531 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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