Irish-Americans attack IRA 'savagery'

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TWO of the most prominent Irish-American spokesmen in Washington have condemned in unprecedentedly outspoken language the IRA bombing in Warrington last weekend, writes Rupert Cornwell.

The statements, by the House Speaker Thomas Foley and the Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, came during a two-day US visit by Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, who went out of his way to raise the problem of Northern Ireland in meetings with both Mr Foley and the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Urging all political parties in the province who condemned violence to resume talks on Northern Ireland's future, Mr Foley described the blast and subsequent attacks on Catholics as 'senseless savagery which resolve nothing'.

Atrocities of either camp, a statement said, 'must produce the broadest possible condemnation among all who claim the mantle of civilisation'. Mr Kennedy called the bombing 'a murderous outrage'.

Mr Hurd yesterday said he 'very warmly welcomed' Mr Foley's statement. The Warrington bombers were simply killers, 'and killers deserve no support'. He said support for the IRA 'in both the North and the South (of Ireland) was rapidly diminishing'.

That Mr Hurd himself raised Northern Ireland, ever a sensitive issue in the US, during his visit is a sign of London's concern over the more interventionist policy that the Clinton administration has been signalling. That concern has only in part been removed by the President's decision to defer appointment of a special envoy to the North.