IT really is quite frustrating to have to read Lancashire Evening Telegraph editorials repeatedly giving the impression that the failure of the IRA to decommission its arms is the primary reason for the suspension of those political institutions which came into being as a result of the Good Friday Agreement.

For the record, this is what Senator George Mitchell said in concluding his review on November 18, 1999: "While decommissioning is an essential element of the Agreement, the context in which it can be achieved is the overall implementation of the Agreement. All participants have a collective responsibility in this regard."

Where is the collective responsibility on the part of David Trimble and other Unionists?

They introduced an arbitrary deadline - February 12 - which has no basis in any document or any agreement between the parties. They have ignored the only valid date that was ever mentioned in the Good Friday Agreement - May 22, 2000.

And, if decommissioning can only be achieved by the full implementation of the Agreement, how can that be squared by suspending the very democratic structures that have been endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the people of Ireland, North and South? The Unionists have never wanted to share office, let alone political power with the Catholic population, and they will do anything they can to prevent it.

Why else would John Taylor of the Ulster Unionist Party be happy about the suspension of the Northern Ireland Executive, stating that the re-imposition of direct rule will be a better form of direct rule than the previous one, because the Irish Government had relinquished Articles 2 and 3 of its own constitution which claimed sovereignty over the six counties? The Unionists won't share power with Sinn Fein because the IRA has not handed in any weapons, even though they have not fired a shot in anger in five years.

Yet when the IRA was fighting the British Army, the RUC and Loyalist paramilitaries, Unionists, both from the UUP and Democratic Unionist Party sat in the same council chambers as Sinn Fein councillors. Makes you wonder!

G S DAVIES, Redearth Road, Darwen.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.