Associated Press

November 14, 1994

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) -- Fearing damage to the peace process in Northern Ireland, the leader of the IRA's political ally appealed Monday to Irish government leaders to patch up their differences and avoid forcing an election.

The Labor Party, the junior partner in Ireland's 2-year-old coalition government, is threatening to pull out in a dispute over the appointment of a conservative to the High Court.

Party leaders will make their decision after Prime Minister Albert Reynolds addresses Parliament on Tuesday.

Labor Party leader Dick Spring has demanded Reynolds explain why the attorney general's office took no action on an extradition request for a priest accused of child sexual abuse, and why Reynolds insisted on appointing the attorney general to the High Court despite the controversy.

A split between Labor and Reynolds' Fianna Fail party could lead to a national election or formation of a new government, or leave Fianna Fail in charge of a minority government.

Reynolds and Spring had worked together to encourage the Irish Republican Army to call off its armed campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland. After the IRA announced a cease-fire on Sept. 1, Reynolds moved quickly to treat Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, as a normal party and invite it to join a national forum for reconciliation.

In an interview in Belfast with Ireland's RTE broadcasting system, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said he was pleading for Spring and Reynolds to settle their differences,

But Jean Kennedy Smith, the U.S. ambassador to Dublin, said she thought the peace process had its own momentum and would survive no matter what happens to the government.

The extradition case originated in Northern Ireland, where authorities sought the return of the Rev. Brendan Smyth from Ireland to face charges of molesting four children over a period of more than 20 years.

[to protect the image of RC, this priest is not referred to as "father" ..... JP ]

Smyth returned voluntarily last year and was sentenced to prison.

Labor lawmakers have demanded to know why former Attorney General Harry Whelehan's office did not act on the extradition requests for seven months.

Spring and his colleagues walked out of a Cabinet meeting on Friday when Reynolds pushed ahead with Whelehan's appointment as president of the High Court, the second-highest position in the Irish judiciary.