Less than 24 hours after John Major denounced it as a 'self-serving and cynical' attempt to deceive the gullible, Cardinal Daly, said the ceasefire was a sincere move and should not be 'rubbished'. He said: 'Some may believe it is bogus and cynical. I do not believe so.'
But in terms which sharply contrasted with those of Cardinal Daly, the Anglican Archbishop of Armagh, Robin Eames, the Church of Ireland's Primate of All Ireland, said the Christian Easter 'does not speak of a short, temporary peace'.
Mr Major, on a visit to Ulster yesterday, criticised those - including the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams - who said people should build on the ceasefire.
'What effectively the IRA are saying is that on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday they will decide not to attack people and not to kill people. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday they will then go back to killing people.'
But Cardinal Daly said yesterday: 'I think there are good objective reasons for believing this is a sincere move, even though a minimal one by the IRA. Why not test it? I believe the opportunity should not be passed by.'
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that although the ceasefire was 'disappointingly short', it raised 'significant hope'. He added: 'The significance of it is greater than the duration of the cessation. The significance is that for the first time in 20 years they have initiated this cessation of violence. They gave advance notice of it and say it is unconditional. They accompany that with the hope that governments, particularly the British government, will avail themselves of this opportunity.'
But Archbishop Eames said: 'The Christian Easter does not speak of a short temporary peace. It speaks of peace which lasts, peace in which people can build new relationships.'
While any cessation of violence must be welcomed, he said, 'the real Christian agenda for Northern Ireland must be written by those who see that a complete end to violence from every source will give us the opportunity to plan the way forward in peace and justice'.
Meanwhile, Mr Adams said that less than an hour's clarification by the British government of the Downing Street declaration could break the impasse on the Province's future. He repeated his call for immediate direct talks.
Albert Reynolds, the Irish premier, said it was difficult to know what the Adams statement meant.
A 200lb IRA bomb was made safe by the Army in Armagh after a day-long operation, said police. A gun was also recovered.Reuse content