Ahern in mission to bolster peace deal
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Tuesday 03 November 1998
The Irish government is anxious both to tackle the de-commissioning question and to inject a fresh sense of momentum into the peace process as a whole. Although work is going on at many levels, the key steps of how and when a new executive and new north-south links will be established remain in doubt.
Mr Ahern's meetings with a range of parties took place against a tense background following the loyalist killing of a Catholic man, Brian Service, who was shot in north Belfast at the weekend. He was a random victim of a recently emerged group styling itself the Red Hand Defenders.
There has been speculation that the group is a breakaway faction from an organisation such as the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), which has declared itself to be on ceasefire.
Billy Hutchinson, of the Progressive Unionist Party, said he feared for the safety of people in north Belfast, adding: "If they are a splinter group from the LVF then we can expect more killings and I would advise all people in north Belfast to be on their guard."
Mr Ahern made it clear yesterday he did not expect early breakthroughs to emerge from his visit. "We have an agreement to implement, and the one thing I am not going to tolerate is that we all sit about wondering what we might be able to do. We really have to move things and today everybody has to say, 'Let us keep moving, vacuums are dangerous'."
In other meetings, Northern Ireland's First Minister, David Trimble, met representatives of the Democratic Unionist Party and the UK Unionists. The DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson, said he believed preparations were being made for a visit by Tony Blair in the near future in an attempt to break the deadlock.
In a Dublin newspaper article, Mr Trimble said he believed they were on the verge of an historic breakthrough but accused Sinn Fein of being "bent on a wrecking strategy". He said recent republican rhetoric suggested they were pursuing not a peace strategy but a "threat-of-return-to-war" strategy. His deputy, Seamus Mallon of the SDLP, said: "We must move this forward, we must do it quickly and in a way that assures the entire community that those who carried out that awful murder are not the people who are going to write the agenda for all of us in the north of Ireland."
Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando
First full-length look is finally here
World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'
"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star
Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Sex abuse inquiry: 'Victims receive death threats' after MPs release names online
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Teenager brandishing fake gun taken down by police after demanding airtime on Netherlands' NOS TV station
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£14000 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will b...
£41500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...
£10670 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...