29 September 2005

DUP in new attack over IRA arsenal

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam
29 September 2005

The DUP has rounded on the Government for refusing to make public intelligence service estimates of the IRA's terrorist arsenal.

The party also maintained its criticism of the two Church leader witnesses to the disarmament process: no-one doubted they had reported what they saw, the DUP asked: had they seen it all?

Secretary of State Peter Hain was adamant he would not contemplate compromising intelligence sources by revealing the estimates which were given to the International Decommissioning Commission.

But DUP party secretary Nigel Dodds said it was "startling" that the Government had missed another opportunity to boost unionist confidence.

"If the Secretary of State believes all weapons have been put beyond use and that the IRA is no longer a threat, then there is no excuse for the continued secrecy, unless of course there is something to hide," the North Belfast MP said.

While the DUP and Ulster Unionists remained united over the demand for an official inventory of IRA weaponry, differences over independent witnesses Fr Alec Reid and the Rev Harold Good sharpened.

North Down Ulster Unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon said she had known former Methodist President Mr Good for 20 years and his word was good enough for her.

She said her husband, former RUC chief constable Sir Jack Hermon, had also worked closely with Mr Good and held him in the very highest regard.

DUP Upper Bann MP David Simpson, accusing the UUP of misrepresenting his party's position, said no-one was impugning the integrity of the Church witnesses.

"No-one is disputing that the two men are faithfully reporting what they saw," he said.

"The question is - did they see it all?

"General (John) de Chastelain has indicated the observers were not in possession of security estimates."

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