Since the beginning of February 2000 the power-sharing executive of Northern Ireland
has been suspended, i.e. Northern Ireland is again governed by direct rule from Westminster.
The reason for the suspension is again the refusal of the IRA to begin with the decommissioning
of their weapons.
Patience had run out among unionists and deadlines for the IRA to at least hand over some weapons
as a symbolic gesture had not been heeded. This poses a setback for the Northern Ireland Secretary,
Peter Mandelson, as well as for the chief of the decommissioning body, the American John de Castelain.