Major and Reynolds try to paper over cracks: Progress needed on draft declarations if prime ministers are to meet this week
Tuesday 14 December 1993
Inter-governmental negotiations aimed at the production of a peace declaration, which had been going well until that point, received a severe setback in Brussels.
Yesterday, the mood lightened slightly, but both believe that contact between the two prime ministers is necessary to clear the air completely.
The two governments had pencilled in today or Wednesday for a London summit to issue a peace declaration, but the feeling is that more work is needed to close the distance between them. A meeting later in the week remains a possibility, if progress can be made in the next few days.
Last week, the governments were working on draft declarations which, with more work, were considered to have the potential of inducing the IRA to lay down its arms. On the key issue of self-determination, one possible formula had the British Government acknowledging that the two parts of Ireland could respectively exercise their right to determination in an agreed manner.
The problem in Brussels arose from diplomatic meetings in which three senior Dublin officials negotiated with a single Downing Street diplomat. Both sides appear to have come away with the perception that the other had significantly hardened its position, making agreement much less likely.
Mr Major yesterday kept alive hopes of a pre-Christmas summit with Mr Reynolds by promising that both sides were seeking a 'balanced' joint declaration aimed at ending violence in the province. The two prime ministers are expected to review progress in a telephone call today.
But Mr Major warned that it was more important to get a declaration right than to get it in a particularly short time. And he openly acknowledged the possibility of failure by saying that if there were irreconcilable differences 'then we will have to come to the House and say it was not possible to come to the House and reach agreement. I hope that will not be the case'.
Mr Reynolds takes the view that issuing a declaration would only be worthwhile if it stood a reasonable chance of triggering a cessation of IRA violence. Both governments appear to agree, however, that such a declaration would have to be balanced in the sense of offering some reassurance to Unionists as well as having the desired effect on the IRA.
The term 'balanced' - used by Mr Major yesterday and indicating that any declaration should contain safeguards aimed at both Unionists and nationalists - has in the past been used much more frequently by Mr Reynolds.
British officials stuck to their line last night of 'cautious optimism' and predicted that a fresh summit was a virtual certainty. But some ministers were predicting that the chances of achieving a joint declaration leading to peace were less than even.
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Perez Hilton apologises for publishing Jennifer Lawrence naked 4Chan photos
Jennifer Lawrence 'nude photo hacker' claims there are hundreds more celebrity images to come
Victoria Justice on naked photo leak: 'Let me nip this in the bud right now – pun intended'
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: Pictures are completely fake, say representatives
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...
£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...
£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the global leaders in prov...