Major takes 'faster track' to Ulster deal

JOHN MAJOR yesterday told leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party that he was working on a faster track to the abandonment of the Irish claim to Ulster, breaking the deadlock over a political settlement. The Prime Minister's plan for ending the impasse emerged in separate talks in Downing Street with Ian Paisley, the leader of the DUP, and James Molyneaux, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.

Clear differences opened up between Dublin and London over the approach to the Hume-Adams peace plan. Mr Major told the leaders that it would not form any part of the Government's proposals, in spite of the shift in favour of the plan by Albert Reynolds, the Irish Prime Minister. Mr Major also allegedly told Mr Paisley that Dick Spring, the Irish foreign minister, had been 'putting words into my mouth' by suggesting that Britain had no reason to stay in Ulster other than that the majority in Northern Ireland wanted it.

In spite of these differences, the DUP leaders believe Mr Major is convinced he has an understanding with Mr Reynolds on the readiness of the Dublin government to surrender the claim to the North in articles two and three of its constitution. But they do not believe Mr Reynolds can deliver. One DUP source said Mr Major was being naive. Mr Paisley said: 'We warned him . . . (about) Reynolds's endeavour to raise a smokescreen on articles two and three. We pointed out there was no movement whatsoever by the Taoiseach on these immoral illegal and criminal claims on the territory of this part of the UK.'

The DUP, which insisted that the Republic drops its claim to Northern Ireland before it will take part in revived inter-party talks, briefed Mr Major on its policy document, Breaking the Logjam, which proposed ending the claim as part of a lengthy process. Mr Paisley said: 'The Prime Minister said, 'I don't want to say no to it but I think I have a quicker way to deal with articles two and three and I want to pursue it that way. It may be that my way will not succeed in which case I have to come back to your proposal'.'

Both the DUP leader and Mr Molyneaux, who later attended a banquet at Buckingham Palace with the Prime Minister, expressed concern to Mr Major about the apparent shift by Mr Reynolds at the weekend in favour of the Adams-Hume proposals.

(Photograph omitted)

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