Peace process 'will not wait for Sinn Fein'

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The Independent Online
A SECURITY crackdown on the IRA 'Godfathers' will be demanded today by Democratic Unionist Party leaders in the wake of Sinn Fein's rejection of the Downing Street Declaration.

Ian Paisley, leader of the DUP, will meet the Prime Minister today. Ulster Unionists want bugged recordings to be made admissable as evidence in the criminal courts. Ministers have held in reserve the power of internment, but have no plans to use it.

The British and Irish governments yesterday made clear their intention to push ahead with the peace process despite the decision by a Sinn Fein conference on Sunday to reject the declaration.

Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, reacted with 'disgust' to the Sinn Fein decision. He said: 'We are not going to wait for Sinn Fein. They have got to give up violence.' Downing Street said: 'Sinn Fein do not have a veto over progress.'

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, said: 'Far from the peace process being over, the peace process is very much alive.'

British officials were uncertain about the apparently contradictory signals from Sinn Fein. Ministers still believe Sinn Fein may attempt to seize back the initiative by announcing a temporary ceasefire by the IRA in the autumn. But they have made it clear that that would not be enough.

The two governments are determined to sustain the gradual momentum towards a settlement, which they plan to set out in a framework document in the autumn. British ministers want it to include an elected assembly at Stormont, cross-border bodies with executive powers by the consent of both sides, and the possible surrender of the Irish constitutional claim to the North, depending on acceptance of the package in simultaneous referendums in the Ulster and the Republic.

John Major's meeting with Mr Paisley will underline the difficulty of securing agreement. The last meeting between them in March degenerated into an angry shouting match.

Mr Major will urge Mr Paisley to end his party's boycott of the inter-party talks on Ulster's future.

One of Sinn Fein's reasons for refusing to accept the Downing Street Declaration was that the referendum in the North would give an inbuilt veto to the Ulster Unionist majority. But Seamus Mallon, the SDLP MP, pointed out the agreement reached between John Hume, the SDLP leader, and Mr Adams made it clear acceptance was subject to a vote of the people in Northern Ireland.

A soldier on patrol was shot and wounded on the outskirts of Crossmaglen last night.

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