September 8, 1994
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) -- Protestant extremists said Thursay they won't lay down their arms until they are convinced an IRA cease-fire is real and Britain and Ireland reveal their plan for Northern Ireland's future.
The demand to first see the details of the "framework document" being negotiated by London and Dublin effectively put any cease-fire on the Protestant side a month or more away.
"Change, if any, can only be honorable after dialogue and agreement," said a statement from the Combined Loyalist Military Command, an umbrella group for outlawed Protestant paramilitary groups. "It is important that patience is shown to this body given the gravity of the debate required."
The British and Irish governments missed their July target for finishing a proposal for restoring a degree of self-government to Northern Ireland. Prime Minister John Major's office said Thursday the two governments hoped to complete the proposal sometime in the autumn.
The framework would then be subject to negotiations among all parties in Northern Ireland.
The Belfast Telegraph, citing unidentified sources, reported Thursday that the proposal would call for an elected, 85-member assembly in Northern Ireland, with elected lawmakers replacing British ministers in executive positions. Major's office declined to comment on the report.
Northern Ireland had its own parliament until 1972, when it was abolished by Prime Minster Edward Heath's government as strife between the province's majority Protestants and minority Roman Catholics worsened.
Protestant extremists also want to be satisfied Britain made no secret concessions to get the Irish Republican Army to call the truce in its 24-year war against British rule. And they are waiting to see whether an IRA splinter group, the Irish National Liberation Army, will also call a halt to violence.
The Combined Loyalist Military Command represents the Ulster Defense Association, which has killed 12 people in Northern Ireland this year, and the Ulster Volunteer Force, which has killed 19. Each has killed a Catholic since the IRA cease-fire was announced Aug. 31.
The IRA, responsible for about half the 3,100 deaths in Northern Ireland's political and sectarian violence since 1969, has killed 17 people this year. The Irish National Liberation Army has slain six.
Having apparently persuaded the IRA there is nothing to be gained from violence, Irish and British leaders are trying to persuade Protestants they have nothing to fear from talking about the future of Northern Ireland.
In an article Thursday in the Belfast Telegraph, Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds assured Protestant he is committed to finding a settlement acceptable to a majority of people in Northern Ireland.
"The Irish people want no hand, act or part in any attempt to coerce or cajole a majority of the people in the North into a united Ireland against their will," Reynolds wrote.
As the IRA cease-fire entered its eighth day Thursday, soldiers in Belfast switched from helmets to cloth berets, a slight but symbolic change pointing to the easing of tensions.
They remained heavily armed, however, and British Defense Secretary Malcolm Rifkind said any reduction in troop numbers would be achieved
"over a considerable period of time."
"We're certainly not rushing into that. ... What we will certainly want to do is to test whether terrorism has ended," he said.
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