Hume puts pressure on Major over peace process

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The Independent Online
JOHN MAJOR came under renewed pressure yesterday to give in to Sinn Fein's demand for the Government to clarify the Downing Street declaration on the future of Northern Ireland. John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, said he could see 'no reason' why it could not be done and that it did not amount to negotiation.

Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, accused the Government of stalling the Ulster peace process by refusing his request. 'We need clarification. It's a stand-off,' he said.

The moves follow the rejection by Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Northern Ireland Secretary, who insisted on Friday that the declaration, signed by Mr Major and Albert Reynolds, the Irish premier, in London last month, was a carefully considered statement and that any move to clarify it would only lead to negotiations.

Mr Adams said that what he had always wanted was 'to end up with a package, a proposition which I can bring to the IRA leadership in which, hopefully, I can make definitive points which will lead them to change their campaign'.

He added: 'I don't have such a package. I don't have such a proposition.'

He told the Belfast-based Catholic paper, the Irish News, that the onus was on the two prime ministers, declaring: 'It's going to be impossible to proceed beyond the stand-off unless there is clarification.'

Mr Hume said: 'The prize at the end of the road is so great . . . that I think everybody should do everything in their power, and particularly governments, to ensure that comes about. If clarification is all that is required, then that should be done.'

Mr Hume claimed the Rev Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, had been assured by Mr Major that he could receive clarification and asked: 'Now is he negotiating with him?'

Meanwhile Sinn Fein yesterday told the British and Irish governments it would 'not be rushed' into responding to the declaration.

As consultations within the republican movement entered their fourth week and the party's executive held a day-long meeting in Dublin, a senior member warned that progress could not be made against a background of apparently contradictory statements from both governments.

Caoimhghin O Caolain, who reported on the verdict of soundings so far, said: 'We are proceeding with the greatest haste possible. But we again repeat our request for clarification and direct dialogue between Sinn Fein and the two governments.'

He said the party's executive, which was expected to meet until late last night, was strongly of the view that Sinn Fein would not be rushed by opponents into setting false deadlines.

Members of the loyalist terrorist organization the Ulster Freedom Fighters fired an RPG7 rocket at the Rock Bar on the Falls Road last night. It rebounded off a window grille and exploded outside. Nobody was hurt.