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N. Ireland talks to resume in wake of more violence

A note to Terence Enwright
A note to Terence Enwright  
January 11, 1998
Web posted at: 8:18 p.m. EST (0118 GMT)

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- Peace talks aimed at ending sectarian violence in Northern Ireland resumed Monday, just a day after militant Protestant gunmen murdered a relative of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

Terence Enwright, 28, who was married to Adams' niece, was shot outside a Belfast nightclub. The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), a hard-line group opposed to the peace talks, claimed responsibility.

Sinn Fein is the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, and Enwright, like Adams, was Catholic. But the nightclub where Enwright worked is owned by a relative of David Ervine, leader of a pro-British Protestant political party that is participating in the peace talks.

An angry Ervine told Sky Television that he believes the LVF targeted Enwright "in order to embarrass and hurt me."

"Those who carried out the foul act of killing Terence Enwright last night did no favors for my society, did no favors for my community and set us back rather than forward," Ervine said.

Adams told reporters that his relationship to the victim "should not be used as any excuse for killing him."icon (204K/9 sec.AIFF or WAV sound)

Key Protestant party will participate in talks

Sunday, members of Ervine's Protestant Unionist Party met in Belfast and decided to attend the latest round of talks that begin Monday, despite complaints that not all parties to the talks were being treated fairly. The PUP is the political wing of the Ulster Volunteer Force, a Protestant paramilitary group.

Another pro-British Protestant paramilitary group, the Ulster Defense Association, also decided to attend the talks after the British government's Northern Ireland secretary, Mo Mowlam, took the unprecedented step Friday of meeting with UDA members held on terrorism-related charges at Maze prison outside of Belfast.

Mowlam reportedly presented a proposal to UDA commanders outlining a process by which some prisoners at Maze could be released if a peace settlement is reached.

Like the main Protestant paramilitary groups, Sinn Fein is participating in the peace process. But the Irish National Liberation Army, a militant IRA offshoot, triggered the latest round of sectarian violence when its gunmen shot LVF leader Billy Wright inside Maze prison. Enwright was the third Catholic to be killed by the LVF in retaliation for Wright's slaying.

Both the LVF and INLA oppose the peace process, and mainstream politicians in both the Catholic and Protestant communities accuse the groups of trying to wreck the talks with violence.

Reports of far-reaching proposals

The task before negotiators Monday will be to reach a political settlement for Northern Ireland, which is majority Protestant and part of Britain.

Many in the Catholic minority want to see the area united with the rest of Ireland, which is overwhelmingly Catholic. But Protestants in Northern Ireland oppose such unification and want to remain part of Britain.

There have been reports that the British government of Prime Minister Tony Blair is prepared to support some far-reaching proposals on changing the governing structure of Northern Ireland, including a Northern Ireland assembly and perhaps a "Council of the Isles" that also would include England, Scotland and Wales.

Correspondent Richard Blystone and Reuters contributed to this report.


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