Bomb rocks hopes for peace in N. Ireland
July 14, 1996
Web posted at: 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT)
ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- The Irish Republican
Army denied planting the car bomb that ripped through a hotel in Enniskillen Sunday, an act of terror that threatens to make
Northern Ireland's uneasy peace a bitter memory.
(839K QuickTime movie of damage from hotel bombing)
The bomb at the Killyhevlin Hotel-- the first in Northern
Ireland since the IRA stopped its violent campaign against
British rule in 1994 -- crowned the worst week of rioting
seen here in a generation.
It reinforced the fear that Northern Ireland is sliding back
into violence and grief, a past vividly recalled in
Enniskillen, where an IRA bomb killed 11 Protestants in 1987
as they commemorated the dead from two world wars.
Unrest in North Ireland
"This whole (peace) process is very, very much off the rails,
and only a miracle's going to save it in the short term,"
said veteran journalist Eamonn Mallie.
Trust among the key players -- the North's largest
pro-British Protestant and Irish Catholic parties, and the
British and Irish governments -- has evaporated, he said.
Future of talks
The bombing in Enniskillen has split public opinion among
Protestants and Catholics.
"The IRA denied the murder of the Irish policeman in Adare,
and then it turned out that the IRA committed it," said David
Trimble, a Unionist Member of Parliament. "So, the IRA are
However Catholics participating in a march in Belfast said
they accepted the IRA's denial.
"When they say they didn't do it, we believe they didn't do
it," one woman said. "When they put a bomb, they always claim
their bomb. And they did not claim this one, and we believe
Irish Prime Minister John Bruton said more talks are the key
to furthering the peace process. (256K AIFF or WAV sound)
"While the sense of anger and disillusionment and division
is very deep and is obviously revealed for all to see in the
events of recent days, the truth still remains that the only
way forward is through dialogue," Bruton said. "The talks
commence next Tuesday and I believe that everybody must bend
every effort to make those talks a success."
Sinn Fein's President Gerry Adams said British Prime Minister
John Major and Bruton must show leadership to get the peace
talks going again, without preconditions.
"The historically important opportunity presented by the IRA
cessation of almost two years ago has been frittered away on
the back of British policy," Adams said. "All of that could
have been avoided, and that is a lesson that has to be
learned if we're to put this together again."
A week of riots
Violence erupted last Sunday when police blocked members of
the Orange Order, Northern Ireland's dominant Protestant
fraternal group, from marching through a Catholic part of
Portadown, a town 25 miles southwest of Belfast.
The Orangemen stood their ground, and militant Protestants
rioted for four days.
Since Thursday, when police conceded defeat and allowed the
march through the Catholic area, Catholic fury has spilled
onto the streets.
Police and soldiers spent a third night Saturday attempting to control
mobs of Catholics who hurled gasoline bombs, bricks and rocks
at them in Belfast and Londonderry, the province's second-
largest and predominantly Catholic town, where Northern
Ireland's "troubles" began with similar scenes in 1969.
Northern Ireland shaken
With British soldiers back patrolling for the first time in
15 months, there is a growing consensus among Catholics and
Protestants in Belfast that the peace process was finished
before the bomb in Enniskillen ... but that the bomb
in Enniskillen finished it off.
Catholics now brace for Protestant reprisals for a bomb the
IRA says it didn't plant, while Protestants fear IRA violence
is no longer limited to England.
CNN Correspondent Bill Delaney and Reuters contributed to this report.
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