Mayhew optimistic on IRA response

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SIR PATRICK Mayhew, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, last night fuelled optimism about an IRA acceptance of the Downing Street declaration, writes Alan Murdoch.

After an Anglo-Irish conference in Dublin, he said: 'We believe today may yet see a positive response from the Provisionals.' But he emphasised that both governments would work 'as a matter of urgency to provide a framework in terms of format, procedure and substance' for new talks involving constitutional parties.

He said he had told Dick Spring, the Irish foreign minister, and Maire Geoghegan- Quinn, the justice minister, of London's disappointment that Dublin had lifted its broadcast ban on members of named organisations, which he said 'had sent an inappropriate signal'.

On Sinn Fein requests for clarification of the declaration, he said London was willing 'to make clear what the document does, and . . . doesn't do. Mr Spring and I have agreed to continue to make speeches which do just that.' He added: 'I think we ought to get away from dancing on the head of a pin about whether it's 'clarifying', or what words you may wish to use.'

The US consul-general in Belfast met the Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, yesterday to see if he was ready to renounce violence and clear the way for his visit to the United States. But the State Department in Washington said that the lengthy meeting between Val Martinez and Mr Adams had been inconclusive.