Airport Attacks: Major pressed to get tough over IRA terorism: Angry Conservatives accuse Irish government of 'bad faith' as extradition plea fails

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The Independent Online
JOHN MAJOR will today face renewed calls for tougher action against IRA terrorists, after the failure of an Irish court to extradite Anthony Gorman, who is wanted in Britain for the shooting of an Army sergeant in 1992.

Tory MPs were infuriated by the release of Mr Gorman, 24, after the Irish state offered no evidence. It came a week after the court freed Joseph Magee, who is wanted in connection with the same killing outside an Army recruiting office at Derby, on the grounds that the offence was 'political'.

The Irish government was accused of 'bad faith' by angry Conservative MPs, in spite of legislation currently in the Dail, the Irish parliament, to close the extradition loophole. The anger is expected to surface today during Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons.

Both governments yesterday rejected an appeal by the IRA to clarify the Downing Street Declaration. Downing Street said: 'There are to be no negotiations with Sinn Fein before bringing an end to the IRA's violence. We regard that as a fundamental principle of the Downing Street Declaration. It is deeply offensive to people in Ireland and Britain that the IRA claim to be interested in peace while continuing to kill in cold blood and mount acts of terror. This behaviour will only reinforce the governments' resolve to stick with utter determination to the course we have chosen, which has huge support.'

Albert Reynolds, the Irish Prime Minister, supported that message in the United States, where he will be attending the St Patrick's Day celebrations. 'The acceptance of the declaration is a matter for themselves (the IRA). If there are some words in it they don't like or they cannot accept, that doesn't stop them making a declaration of a cessation of violence and pursuing whatever aspects they feel are not to their liking,' he said.

John Hume, leader of the Social Democractic and Labour Party, who held talks with Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, renewed his appeals to the two governments to change their policy and agree to negotiate with the IRA-Sinn Fein leaders. 'I believe this very strongly as someone who has been one of their strongest opponents for 20 years, they are very serious about the peace process,' he said.

'The British government has had secret discussions with them. Now peace is on the table, no stone should be left unturned and they should meet Sinn Fein to clarify it.'

But Ulster Unionists accused Mr Hume of being an 'apologist' for the IRA, a charge that he strongly rejected. David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist MP for Upper Bann, said: 'The Government has said they will not negotiate. If the Government abandons that position, they are lost.'

The Prime Minister's Office said that further talks would be held between officials of the two governments to improve cross-border security, which it is believed will include overflights by British Army helicopters in 'hot pursuit'.

That was clearly directed at Conservative MPs, who have been protesting about the use of the South as a 'safe haven' for IRA terrorists after carrying out attacks in the North.

The Irish government insisted last night that it had fully co-operated in improving security across the border.

Mr Reynolds has no intention of introducing internment in the South, which he believes would give the IRA a propaganda coup to justify their continued use of violence. Without the support from the South, British ministers believe internment in the North would not be effective.

The Irish government is putting pressure on Britain to make progress at official level on working up proposals for the government of Ulster, including cross-border bodies and a locally-elected assembly as part of the three-strand talks.

(Photograph omitted)