September 7, 1994
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) -- As the IRA's cease-fire ends its first week, Irish nationalists are united and trying to keep up their political momentum.
Nationalist unity was demonstrated Tuesday as Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds met in Dublin with Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army.
"We are at the beginning of a new era in which we are all totally and absolutely committed to democratic and peaceful methods of resolving our political problems,"
they declared in a statement also joined by John Hume, leader of the main Roman Catholic party in Northern Ireland.
The IRA last Wednesday declared an end to its 25-year-old armed campaign to end British rule of Northern Ireland and join the province with overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland.
The majority Protestants who want to remain part of Great Britain, meanwhile, are edgy and suspicious of the changing political situation.
British Prime Minister John Major booted the Rev. Ian Paisley, a Protestant firebrand, out of his office on Tuesday after Paisley apparently questioned Major's truthfulness. Paisley, leader of the small Democratic Unionist Party, said Major shouted at him,
"Get out of this room! Never come back until you're prepared to say I speak the truth!"
Unrepentant, Paisley accused Major of lying about secret contacts with the IRA "and his whole approach had laid a long trail of suspicion."
Many Protestants fear that Major made secret concessions to the IRA to win the cease-fire.
Britain has promised to meet with Sinn Fein within three months of a permanent cease-fire to discuss the future of Northern Ireland, but Major says he's not convinced the IRA's announcement of a "complete cessation of military operations" constitutes a permanent truce.
Reynolds, in marked contrast, immediately accepted the IRA pledge as sufficient. Reynolds planned to keep up the momentum today by meeting Vice President Albert Gore, who has been involved in U.S. efforts to promote a Northern Ireland settlement.
Reynolds said Tuesday's joint statement was intended to assure Major that the cease-fire was permanent. But Major's larger problem may be to reassure Protestants that they aren't threatened by the recent developments.
David Trimble, a legislator for the Ulster Unionist Party, said the meeting in Dublin
"confirms our view that there is a deal between Adams, Hume and Reynolds and shows that the Irish are trying to force the pace."
Hume said Tuesday night that complaints of undue haste are
"absolute nonsense." "I don't apologize to anybody for moving with maximum speed to achieve lasting peace on our streets,"
said Hume, whose secret discussions last year with Adams were crucial to the peace process.
"Sometimes the eye doesn't see what it doesn't want to see," Adams said. "I have tried to reassure the British government."
Reynolds has been meeting political leaders in advance of an Irish-organized National Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. The two main Protestant unionist parties in Northern Ireland have refused to join.
However, the joint goal which the British and Irish governments announced in December is for all parties to negotiate a future for Northern Ireland. The two governments pledged to implement any settlement acceptable to a majority of Northern Ireland's people.
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