Irish Primate praises talks with Sinn Fein: SDLP leader commended for secret meeting with republicans

CARDINAL Cahal Daly, the Catholic Primate of Ireland, and politicians on all sides yesterday welcomed surprise talks between Sinn Fein and the mainly Catholic SDLP aimed at securing a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.

Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Fein, and John Hume, leader of the SDLP, held a secret 90-minute meeting on Saturday after what is believed to have been weeks of preparatory work by a group of Roman Catholic clergymen.

Neither side would discuss the content of the talks yesterday, but their timing is thought to be significant. They come only days after the IRA re-affirmed its commitment to armed struggle in its meeting with the peace campaigner Senator Gordon Wilson; just a month before local elections are due with Sinn Fein support dwindling; and at a time when moves are under way for the resumption of the Northern Ireland peace talks.

After Saturday's meeting in Londonderry, Mr Hume said that he hoped the talks would lead to a renunciation of violence but he added: 'This is only a hope.'

Speaking on BBC radio, Cardinal Daly praised Mr Hume. His party will be in direct competition with Sinn Fein for the nationalist vote next month.

Cardinal Daly said: 'I greatly admire the courage of John Hume in continuing with his work for peace and being prepared to take political risks - quite considerable physical risks - in doing what he's doing.

'I sincerely hope, and thousands hope with me, that it may lead to an end of violence and to peace.'

Kevin McNamara, Labour's spokesman on Northern Ireland, and Peter Temple-Morris, the Conservative co-chairman of the British-Irish Parliamentary Body, welcomed the talks. Each said that they had complete faith in Mr Hume's ability to negotiate with Sinn Fein, but they felt progress would be achieved only over the long term.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP held a series of meetings in the late 1980s, which broke down after they failed to reach agreement on even basic issues. The SDLP argued that British involvement in Northern Ireland was no longer colonial and had moved to a position of neutrality; Sinn Fein considered it an occupation.

Their differences after each meeting were published and widely circulated during that series of talks. Their decision now to keep the contents of meetings secret is a good sign, according to Mr Temple-Morris. 'For Sinn Fein to agree to silence suggests that it is not feeling in a strong position,' he said. 'It has been notoriously weak in getting public backing, so its involvement in the resumption of talks on a private, low-key basis augurs well for a degree of success.'

Sinn Fein chairman Tom Hartley, Mr McNamara and Mr Temple-Morris yesterday rejected a call for the return of internment made by Senator Wilson, whose daughter, Marie, was killed in the 1987 Remembrance Day bombing at Enniskillen.

Mr Wilson, who was devastated when the IRA rejected his peace overtures last week, said in an interview with the Sunday Times that he believed internment was the only alternative to terrorism.

The three said that they respected Senator Wilson's peace efforts but one said the call for internment 'came more from a grieving father than an Irish senator'.

Pearse McCauley, the suspected IRA terrorist, appeared before Dublin's anti-terrorist Special Criminal Court on four firearms charges. Mr McCauley, 28, of Strabane, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, who was arrested at Connolly station, Dublin, on Friday, was remanded in custody and will next appear in court on 21 April.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map