Paisley talks to weapons chief

Mr Paisley wants transparent decommissioning

DUP leader Ian Paisley has had further discussions with the head of the decommissioning body on the issue of putting IRA weapons beyond use.

It is the second meeting between Mr Paisley and General John de Chastelain in a week.

It comes after weeks of intensive negotiations between the British and Irish governments and the political parties Sinn Fein and the DUP.

They have centred on the responses from the parties to the proposals put forward aimed at restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

The DUP has demanded photographic evidence of decommissioning as an essential part of any deal to restore devolution.

On Friday, Mr Paisley said it was not up to his party to say "yes" or "no" to the latest British-Irish proposals when they meet Tony Blair on Monday.

Instead, he said Sinn Fein should first indicate that they would abide by the governments' proposals.

After Saturday's talks the DUP leader said that the IRA had still not contacted the general.

Mr Paisley said: "This process is being held back by the republican movement and they must engage immediately with the IICD (Independent International Commission on Decommissioning) or we will know that the whole exercise was one of deception by Sinn Fein/IRA."

He added that Sinn Fein were "not dealing with David Trimble now" - a swipe at the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party who was the head of the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland until last year's assembly elections.

General de Chastelain heads the decommissioning body

The Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams appealed to republicans not to be provoked by the "unacceptable language" used by Mr Paisley.

Mr Adams said that comments by Mr Paisley, in which he said he would have to "swallow hard" to do business with republicans, were an acknowledgement of the prospect of Sinn Fein in government.

He said: "It is also the first begrudging, mixed-up, convoluted, angry acknowledgment by Ian Paisley of the Sinn Fein mandate. We shouldn't dismiss that.

"He also said in terms of getting a deal , it was 'now or never'.

"As far as we are concerned, it is now.

"He needs to come up to the plate and he needs to say yes."

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