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Trimble Discusses IRA Arm Stance

March 20, 1999

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Protestant leader David Trimble reiterated Saturday that the Irish Republican Army must decommission some arms before a joint Protestant-Catholic government can be formed.

Speaking to more than 700 members of his Ulster Unionist Party’s ruling council, Trimble received both a standing ovation and some heckling from those who fear he’ll soften his demands for IRA weapons.

Trimble, elected to lead the new Protestant-Catholic government at the core of last year’s Good Friday peace accord, has been refusing to accept the right of IRA-allied Sinn Fein politicians to take part unless that party’s Irish Republican Army allies start to disarm first.

The new government is scheduled to take power April 2, this year’s Good Friday.

IRA supporters, meanwhile, hijacked and burned several vehicles, including a bus and postal van, near the hard-line Catholic Kilwilkie neighborhood in Lurgan, the town 30 miles west of Belfast where a prominent Catholic lawyer was killed by a car bomb Monday.

On Saturday, British army explosives experts defused a crude bomb left outside the home of a high-profile IRA critic, Vincent McKenna.

No one claimed responsibility but McKenna, spokesman for a group called Families Against Intimidation and Terror, blamed IRA members for planting the device.

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