Bruton questions motives for leak : View from Dublin :The Irish peace crisis

Irish ministers and Opposition leaders moved swiftly to attack the credibility of the Times's claim that joint authority is to be proposed by the planned framework document on the future of Northern Ireland. The Taoiseach, John Bruton, openly challenged the motives for the leaking of parts of the document. He said it was clearly an attempt at news management designed to upset one side and was not the work of anyone who wanted to develop the peace process.

"Any selective leaking of certain pieces of that document is inherently wrong and misleading," Mr Bruton told the Dail. He said the leak "could damage the entire process towards peace and reconciliation".

Dick Spring, the foreign minister and deputy premier, said the Times article made "a totally selective and tendentious" use of excerpts from the draft document, which he said was "calculated to alarm Unionists rather than inform the public".

Mr Spring said the article had to be judged in terms of the "blatant political agenda behind it" and appealed to all sides to reserve judgement until the full document had been published.

A government spokesman dismissed the story as "editorialised from the start. It is plain as a pikestaff that it starts off with an interpretation and carries on with a sub-head that suggests it will alarm Ulster Unionists".

Other Irish coalition sources stressed that Mr Bruton had last week stated explicitly that no joint authority was planned in the framework document.

Ray Burke, the Fianna Fail Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs, argued that the only way to resolve the present crisis was to publish the framework document quickly and start all-party round table talks.