Jailed IRA men may be freed

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The Independent Online
A deal to kick-start the stalled Northern Ireland peace talks was thrashed out last night by John Major and John Bruton, the Irish Prime Minister, writes Colin Brown.

It is expected to include a British compromise over the gradual release of IRA prisoners, provided the IRA will make a "substantial gesture" in decommissioning of weapons.

The prime ministers agreed in talks after the Cannes summit to order officials to draw uparrangements for dealing with IRA heavy arms and Semtex.

Monitors from a neutral country could oversee decommissioning under plansbeing produced by Sir John Chilcott, permanent under-secretary at the Northern Ireland Office, and Tim Dalton, secretary at the Department of Justice. The move could lead to Sinn Fein being allowed, for the first time, into substantive talks with other Northern Ireland democratic parties.

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