Irish PM offers power sharing

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The Independent Online
THE IRISH premier, Albert Reynolds, yesterday revealed he was willing to offer a 30 per cent share in any future all-Ireland government to members of the two communities in the six counties of Northern Ireland.

But the offer - a key component of his blueprint for a Northern Ireland settlement involving transitional North-South political links - appeared to have already been rejected last night. Unionists said it was unworkable and the chairman of the Conservative Northern Ireland Committee, Andrew Hunter MP, described Mr Reynolds's proposal as 'a serious miscalculation'.

Mr Reynolds's proposals also included creating institutional ties between the two parts of Ireland which he claims would be of economic benefit to both. He also proposed 'regional responsibility-sharing'.

Mr Reynolds was speaking in Dublin at a youth conference of his Fianna Fail party. The Taoiseach stressed the importance of not only upholding the rights of Irish nationalists but the need 'to continually reach out to the Unionist community', and 'free our people from the present violent situation'.

His speech was billed as an attempt to push the stagnating Northern Ireland peace process beyond its present stalemate over Sinn Fein's demands for clarification.

However Mr Reynolds's comments were quickly rejected by a senior Unionist MP. William Ross, MP for Londonderry East said: 'This is absolute nonsense. How would he get 30 per cent in the Government for a start? What he says would be unworkable in any democratic society. There is not going to be an all-Ireland republic, so he is whistling in the wind.'

Mr Reynolds said it was now accepted by all sides - including Sinn Fein, the IRA's political spokesmen, that it would be wrong to coerce the people of Northern Ireland into a united Ireland.