Sir Patrick Mayhew, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said a number of questions 'purporting to be from Sinn Fein' had been passed to him by the Irish government. He said he would publish these within a matter of days, 'with our comments'.
Last night, the indications were that the Government in effect intends finally to meet the demand, which Sinn Fein has been making since last December, for clarification of the declaration.
The Irish peace process has been stalled for some time on this point, with Sinn Fein claiming it could not give a definitive response in the absence of clarification.
Even as this potential breakthrough was under way, the IRA killed a man because he worked as a cleaner at a Royal Ulster Constabulary station.
Frederick Anthony, 38, died when a booby-trap bomb exploded underneath his car as he drove through his home town of Lurgan, Co Armagh. His wife and two small children, who were also in the vehicle, were hurt in the blast. Mrs Anthony and her nine-year-old son, Garath, suffered cuts and bruises while her three-year-old daughter, Emma, suffered a broken leg and other injuries.
The attack followed Thursday evening's loyalist killing of Martin Bradley, 23, a Catholic man in north Belfast, who was shot while holding his one- year-old nephew. The child narrowly escaped injury.
The potential breakthrough on clarification followed several hints of a thaw in the positions of Sinn Fein and the Government. Sir Patrick and John Major had originally declared that no clarification would be given, but it has become increasingly obvious that the republicans were making considerable political capital out of the argument that they could not respond to a document which they characterised as 'ambiguous'.
Earlier this month, Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, said he believed the clarification issue 'can be properly concluded in the near future'.Reuse content