IRA says its 'armed resistance' will continue: Statement says talks are possible, but must be 'without preconditions'

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THE IRA insisted last night that the 'violent denial of their national rights' would continue to be met with armed resistance in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

A spokesman said the IRA would talk to the British government at any time but said that dialogue must be without preconditions. He said: 'Those who have power to resolve this conflict will find republicans are people they can do business with.'

He rejected the British government's conditions for talks, which he described as 'abject and total surrender' by the IRA followed by a period for assessment before any talks.

The statement followed the meeting between the Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, and John Hume, leader of the SDLP, and an earlier meeting with the IRA by Senator Gordon Wilson, father of Marie Wilson, murdered in the Enniskillen bombing.

The IRA spokesman, responding to criticism of the terrorists following the Warrington bombings, said: 'Personal condemnations from any side in the conflict are insufficient in themselves to move the situation along.'

He said no one could fail to be moved by personal tragedies whether it was a Marie Wilson, an Ian Gow (Margaret Thatcher's parliamentary private secretary) or a Julie Livingstone, a 14-year-old girl killed by a soldier's plastic bullet 10 years ago.

'The tragedy and suffering are all the same. Everybody bleeds and everybody cries. Our actions arose out of political conditions and they require a political settlement.'

The Irish government cautiously welcomed the talks between Mr Hume and Mr Adams. A spokesman said: 'We believe Mr Hume would not have engaged in such contacts if they did not appear worthwhile.'

Mr Hume has said he was 'only hopeful' the discussions may lead to an end to the violence.