Mayhew's peace pledge

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The Independent Online
SIR PATRICK MAYHEW, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, yesterday firmly re-stated the Government's position that it would not negotiate, directly or indirectly, with Sinn Fein so long as it supported the use of violence.

He held out the prospect of a dramatic scaling down of security force activity, a relaxation of the emergency laws and new economic advances in Northern Ireland if peace could be achieved.

Speaking at the University of Ulster, Sir Patrick said the Government had no objection to a united Ireland, provided it was achieved by consent. He emphasised that the nationalist tradition was no less legitimate than Unionism, and he hoped political agreement could be reached.

The US is seeking to extradite from South Africa an Irishman wanted in connection with an alleged plot to supply the IRA with surface-to-air missiles for use against helicopters. Peter Eamonn Maguire, 56, is detained awaiting a hearing on 6 January.