THE MANCHESTER BOMBING: Talks deal exposes republican tension

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Tensions within Sinn Fein have prompted a call for a special conference over the party leadership's acceptance of the Mitchell principles.

Concern at the move among sections of the republican movement is believed to be fuelled by fears that it could lead to acceptance of an internal settlement in Northern Ireland.

The principles require acceptance of verified disarmament, renouncing the use of force, and agreeing to abide by any agreement reached in all- party negotiations.

Sinn Fein headquarters has denied that the conference move, led by Cork members, heralded a challenge to the leadership of Gerry Adams.

One newspaper claimed there had been threats of resignations over the issue from both long-standing Sinn Fein activists and from "middle-ranking" IRA members.

The Cork anger was apparently driven by the belief that Sinn Fein had initially declined to endorse the Mitchell principles when published in January.

It is understood the Cork members cite the party's submission to the Mitchell decommissioning body which insisted Sinn Fein would reject any British pre-conditions to all-party talks.

James McBarron, a spokesman for the Cork Sinn Fein constituency organisation, declined to elaborate on the reasons for the conference move. The Sinn Fein constitution allows for an extraordinary conference if the move has the support of one third of the party's local branches.

A Sinn Fein leadership source said yesterday was doubtful of the chances of the Cork letter raising support required. She suggested the move was not representative of the party's mainstream thinking, but did not rule out further "internal meetings".