Unionist front under pressure

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Indy Politics
CRACKS began to emerge among the Ulster Unionists yesterday over the willingness of its leaders to continue talks with the Irish government in London.

Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Ulster Unionist Party, dismissed the threats by some grassroots members of his party to resign, but there were reports of unrest among some senior colleagues.

However, sources at the talks said that the show of unrest would enable Mr Paisley to oppose any compromise in the talks, which will continue today at Lancaster House. Mr Paisley and James Molyneaux, leader of the Ulster Unionists, began the second day by making their demands for Ireland's constitutional claims on the Province to be repealed.

Sir Ninian Stephen, the independent chairman, confirmed in a statement last night that the talks would continue. It is hoped that they will be reconvened on 15 July in Belfast. John Hume, leader of the nationalist SDLP, said that they had had a 'good day'. John Wilson, the deputy Irish Prime Minister, said that it was 'busy day'. Asked whether progress had been made, he said: 'That is what we will have to see.'

The United States has welcomed the Lancaster House talks. A statement by the White House spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said: 'We applaud the determination, courage and leadership that the two governments and the political parties have shown in pursuing these talks and we wish them every success.

'A successful outcome would be a great victory for the cause of constitutional politics and for the proponents of peace, justice and reconciliation.'

The statement added: 'It would demonstrate to the world that progress can be made through dialogue and that violence has no place in this process.'