Britain two weeks ago published its plans for cutting forces, closing bases and reducing helicopter use along the border with the Republic of Ireland. But it held back many details on its plans for reshaping the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the 88 percent Protestant force that the IRA long sought to destroy.
For its part, the IRA this week announced it had agreed with a disarmament commission on a confidential means for getting rid of its weapons. But the refusal to specify a starting date meant Trimble stood little chance of winning re-election as first minister in the legislature, where Protestants are split nearly 50-50 for or against him.
The short-term suspension received immediate support from the major Catholic-supported party in the Northern Ireland coalition, the moderate Social Democratic and Labor Party. Its spokesman Alban Maginness called it "the lesser of two evils."