IRA Ceasefire: It's permanent, says Dublin: London receives assurance as Irish government prepares for peace forum

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The Independent Online
THE IRISH government moved swiftly yesterday to reassure London that the IRA's statement did mean that it had called a permanent ceasefire.

Dublin is simultaneously acting quickly to tie Sinn Fein into democratic politics in its proposed forum for peace and reconciliation. This process will begin today with a meeting between the Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, and the leader of the Northern Ireland Alliance Party, Dr John Alderdice.

A spokesman for Mr Reynolds pointed to an article in yesterday's Irish Times by the Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, in which he indicated that the Irish and American governments' interpretation that a permanent ceasefire had been effectively called was accurate.

The government spokesman cited the Adams assertion, saying: 'We feel that should be enough for them (the British). We're pointing to that and laying emphasis on it. There was nothing conditional about the (IRA) statement.'

Official sources admitted to disappointment that the British were 'getting hung up' over the linguistic detail when the IRA had made clear its 'definitive' commitment to 'the democratic peace process'.

Mr Adams wrote in the article: 'Albert Reynolds, Dick Spring, John Hume and others have responded positively and correctly to the IRA announcement. So has President Clinton and others in the USA.'

This followed remarks yesterday from Sir Patrick Mayhew, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in which he called for confirmation from the IRA that its term 'complete' ceasefire meant a permanent one.

The Irish government chief whip Noel Dempsey pointed to British indications that if Dublin said it was convinced that a permanent ceasefire had been declared, then London would be satisfied. He felt Dublin would have no problem giving such an assurance.

Early meetings are scheduled with the SDLP after today's talks with the Alliance Party to pave the way for setting up the forum for peace, probably next month.

Irish government sources said it was most likely that Mr Reynolds would follow these discussions with a meeting with Mr Adams before leaving for a visit to Australia on 18 September. A formal start to the forum's proceedings could then begin in early or mid October.

Sinn Fein leaders will outline their hopes for the next stage in the peace process in Dublin today.

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