The Prime Minister intends to lay the groundwork for a resumption of inter-party talks. His most important encounter will be tomorrow, with the SDLP leader, John Hume. Mr Major wants to explore the basis for an agreed approach to more devolved powers in Ulster.
Already, however, Unionists say they will not drop their pre-conditions for coming to the table. They warned they would not go along with plans for all-Ireland executive boards to run some services. And the Democratic Unionist leader, Ian Paisley, said that he would not take part while Mr Hume remained in contact with the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, and while Dublin laid constitutional claim to Northern Ireland.
Mr Hume said last night: 'I am standing firmly by the process agreed with Mr Adams simply because it offers the best hope of lasting peace.' He said backing for the talks on both sides of the border had risen dramatically, with more than 500 letters delivered to his home yesterday.
An unusually unthreatening statement from the IRA last night said the organisation regretted Mr Major's rejection of the 'Irish peace initiative'.
At the funerals for five victims of the Greysteel massacre, Edward Daly, former bishop of Derry, urged politicians to redouble their efforts for peace; this was seen as backing the talks held between Mr Hume and Sinn Fein.
A man is to be charged with the Greysteel killings; another is likely to be charged with withholding information about them.
The two are among about 20 loyalists held in an RUC interrogation centre at Gough Barracks, Armagh, in recent days. They are from various parts of Northern Ireland, but mostly from Belfast.
Police have recovered one of the getaway cars, a Skoda, together with a boiler suit and balaclava thought to have been worn by one gunman. The murder weapons, identified as an AK47 rifle and a 9mm pistol, have not been found.
The man facing the murder charge is believed to come from the Protestant Waterside district of Londonderry city. Five more men were arrested yesterday and two suspects, one a woman, were released. A second was still being interrogated by a team of detectives at Gough Barracks.
An RUC officer shot by the IRA in Newry, Co Down, on Sunday has died in hospital. Brian Woods was married, with a one-year-old child and lived in Co Down.
Recent television interviews with Mr Adams were criticised in the Commons by Mr Major. He said the BBC and ITN were taking broadcasting restrictions 'to the limit and perhaps beyond'. He ordered Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for National Heritage, to examine the regulations after an interview with Mr Adams in which an actor with an Irish accent did a 'voice-over' synchronised with his lips.
Sinn Fein will take Mr Major's comments as another indication that the Government has no intention of entering any 'peace process' with them, coming after Mr Major's explicit rejection of the Hume-Adams proposals and the recent decision to ban Mr Adams from entering Britain.
Tory MPs were incensed by interviews with Mr Adams after the Belfast bombing. Downing Street sources said the rules were being 'perverted' by broadcasters.
Stuart Purvis, ITN editor in chief, said: 'We are clear we are acting within the guidelines laid down by our regulator, the Independent Television Commission, after discussions with the Home Office.' The BBC also said that it acted in full 'accordance with the restrictions'.
The rules were introduced by Margaret Thatcher to deny the IRA and Sinn Fein the 'oxygen of publicity'. Sinn Fein admit privately the ban has proved effective in denying them a platform.
The Government is under pressure from Tory and Ulster Unionist MPs for a total ban on broadcasting by Sinn Fein, as is the case in the Republic of Ireland.
Churches' solution, page 3
Letters, page 17
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content