Major, Bruton plead for new IRA cease-fire
But they still disagree about talks date
In this story:
December 9, 1996
Web posted at: 5:30 p.m. EST (2230 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) -- The prime ministers of Britain and Ireland
called Monday for the Irish Republican Army to announce a new
cease-fire, but the two leaders disagreed on how soon the
IRA's political representatives could join in peace talks.
"We are united in wishing to see a credible cease-fire,"
Major said outside 10 Downing Street after nearly five hours
of talks with his Irish counterpart, John Bruton.
But Major added: "I don't wish to speculate on whether a
particular date is possible for Sinn Fein to join the talks."
Bruton said he looked forward to Sinn Fein joining talks
early in the new year.
The IRA's political wing has been shut out of multi-party
talks that began in Belfast last June because of an IRA
bombing in February that broke a 17-month cease-fire.
Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said Monday that any
new IRA cease-fire could not be permanent, as Britain
demands, but would offer a window of opportunity.
"Everyone with an ounce of common sense knows that if we get
a cease-fire, that creates only the opportunity for those who
want peace to consolidate it and to make it permanent,"
Rebellion against Major ...
Monday's long-scheduled Anglo-Irish summit came as Major
faced a growing rebellion within the ranks of his own
Conservative Party. So-called "Euroskeptics" within the
party threaten to withdraw support if Britain concedes to the
European Union on issues such as a single currency.
Against that backdrop, and with the loss of his parliamentary
majority, Major desperately needs the backing of the Ulster
Unionist politicians from Northern Ireland's Protestant
... could have impact on peace bid
But it's a scenario that leaves Major with little maneuvering
room because the Unionists -- Protestants who want to
maintain Northern Ireland's links with Britain -- tend to
side with the Euroskeptic faction, said Brendan O'Duffy of
the London School of Economics.
Last week, the British government effectively rejected an IRA
cease-fire proposal by setting new preconditions instead.
The move was widely seen as a conciliatory gesture to the
Political analysts say the IRA is unlikely to agree to any
preconditions for a cease-fire set by the British government
until after a general election, which must take place before
next May. Then they'll know exactly which British government
they'll be dealing with.
Correspondent Margaret Lowrie and Reuters contributed to this report.
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