Blair and Bruton in talks to avert Ulster marching crisis

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In their first meeting as premiers, the Taoiseach John Bruton will today urge Tony Blair to move urgently to avert a repetition of last summer's disturbances arising from Ulster marching season.

Mr Bruton's visit will be the first by a foreign head of government since Mr Blair's arrival at Downing Street. Dublin sources said Mr Bruton would urge Mr Blair to act on key recommendations of the North report on contentious parades to prevent Drumcree-type unrest erupting for the third year in succession. The meeting follows discussions in London last night between the new Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, and Irish foreign minister Dick Spring.

The two premiers will also analyse the prospects for a renewed IRA ceasefire and confidence-building measures to encourage the resumption of multi- party talks next month in the wake of the success of two Sinn Fein candidates, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in last week's general election.

In a speech last night to the Oxford Union, Mr Bruton promised that if Republicans "make good their promise to take the political road, the two governments will receive them at the gates of Stormont Buildings into inclusive talks where no topic is excluded". But he warned that an attempt to "half-suspend" violence or to "combine syntax and semtex" would not see Dublin hold up talks until Sinn Fein and the IRA were ready to declare a final ceasefire.

Alan Murdoch - Dublin

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