IRA Ceasefire: Reynolds dismayed by IRA gesture

Click to follow
THE IRISH Government yesterday privately conceded it was far more pessimistic than it first admitted about a breakthrough in the Northern Ireland peace process following the IRA's temporary ceasefire declaration.

Initially, Albert Reynolds had welcomed the IRA move as a 'very small step in the right direction', but was dismayed that the ceasefire was not permanent.

But yesterday senior Irish sources said that the minimal IRA gesture might indicate the Adams leadership might have overstated its real influence among the core membership of the IRA, particularly after the high hopes raised during the Sinn Fein President's New York trip in February.

Having provided all the clarification on the Downing Street declaration sought by Sinn Fein, Mr Reynolds felt a greater step was due from the IRA than a three-day hiatus. 'To say we're disappointed is a huge understatement,' said one official source. Dick Spring, the foreign minister, hoped community pressure in Northern Ireland would persuade the IRA to move towards a permanent peace.

Pointedly, Dublin government sources said they would not be advising London on exactly how to respond to the IRA move, privately or otherwise. Mr Reynolds himself has consistently argued that as much clarification as necessary should be given to help end the violence.

All parties in Dublin believe the IRA's immediate aim is official contact with Britain. Martin McGuinness, the leading Sinn Fein official, said official contacts could take place during the three-day ceasefire without British ministers taking part.

Signalling a less conciliatory position from now on, Dublin is warning that the present phase of the peace process may be coming to an end unless the IRA moves towards permanently ending its violent campaign.