Irish may rekindle plan for US envoy to Ulster

(First Edition)

THE IRISH government may waive its reservations about a United States special envoy to Northern Ireland if it feels the Anglo-Irish Agreement is being fatally undermined by developments arising from the Tory alliance with the Ulster Unionists, writes Alan Murdoch.

During a St Patrick's Day visit in March to the White House, the Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, signalled his willingness to see the envoy idea shelved temporarily while hopes persisted of resurrecting all-party talks on the future of Northern Ireland.

This followed lobbying by John Major, who convinced Mr Reynolds that an envoy would be unhelpful at that time. The Taoiseach in conveyed his reservations to President Bill Clinton, and the idea was deferred.

Informed sources in Dublin believe that if the British government accedes to Unionist pressure for measures the Irish deem at odds with the agreement, the envoy plan could be quickly reactivated with help from Dublin's allies in Washington.

Dublin is concerned that key provisions of the agreement, including its right to be consulted on the government of Northern Ireland, could be rendered null and void if moves such as the setting up of a Commons select committee on the province arise in the autumn from the Government's voting alliance with the Ulster Unionists.

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