Major and Reynolds agree to Ulster talks

Click to follow
The Independent Online
JOHN MAJOR and Albert Reynolds, the Irish Taoiseach, finally agreed to meet in Dublin tomorrow despite the differences which have prevented them agreeing the outline of a joint communique on Northern Ireland.

Details of what was billed in London and Dublin as only one of several meetings were being settled as Cardinal Cahal Daly, Archbishop of Armagh, used his considerable influence to declare that it was now possible for the two governments 'to produce a formula which can lead to a final end to violence'.

Cardinal Daly told a meeting of MPs and peers at Westminster last night that 'it is not impossible and indeed . . . not even inordinately difficult' for London and Dublin to agree such a formula 'and yet be completely consistent with the well-established existing policies of each.'

In his closely-argued address, which showed that he had been well informed on recent negotiations, Cardinal Daly, who has consistently opposed IRA violence, said 'now is the time and now is the chance' for the republican movement to end violence permanently and commit itself to the democratic process.

'They have now, as never before, an opportunity hitherto closed to them to enter fully into that democratic process. If they lose this opportunity it may never come again.'

After continual telephone traffic between the two capitals, Downing Street announced yesterday that Mr Major accompanied by Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of state for Northern Ireland - and for the first time in such talks - Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, would be travelling to Dublin for the one-day meeting tomorrow.

The statement said the meeting would lead to further ones, for example during the European councils in Brussels next week.

Downing Street last night dismissed as 'complete rubbish' an IRA claim that the Government had offered to take a Sinn Fein delegation to Scotland or Scandinavia for two weeks of intensive talks during a temporary IRA ceasefire.

The Government later eliminated a crucial textual inconsistency in its version of its secret contacts with the IRA by amending documents which it had placed in the House of Commons library. It blamed transcription and typing errors. The inconsistency had cast doubt on the accuracy of the documents.

Mr Reynolds, who announced the downgrading of tomorrow's meeting from a full summit, confirmed he was pressing London for a firm declaration on the future of Ireland.

Earlier, Dublin sources suggested that Irish demands for British recognition of the right of 'self-determination' for all the Irish people were the crucial sticking point in framing a communique. Mr Reynolds said he wanted the self-determination recognition included in a peace initiative communique to follow eventual agreement on Ulster between himself and Mr Major.

Mr Reynolds, explaining in the Dail why the governments no longer saw the meeting as a full-blown summit, said: 'I am not interested in having a meeting for a meeting's sake, or getting involved in a meeting that could not produce any worthwhile conclusion.'

Downing Street played down the significance of the conversation on Ulster last week between President Bill Clinton and Mr Major.

Primate's speech, page 3

Document 'error', page 3