Sinn Fein chiefs urged to 'show courage'

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The Independent Online
THE IRISH Prime Minister, Albert Reynolds, last night called on the IRA and Sinn Fein to show 'leadership and courage' in order to halt terrorism as speculation grew in Ulster of an imminent open-ended IRA ceasefire.

In a statement Mr Reynolds said his government's position remained that 'all parties should put behind them the use of violence as an instrument to progress political objectives'.

He also rejected suggestions of any divisions between himself and Dick Spring, his deputy premier and foreign minister, about the timescale for permitting Sinn Fein into any negotiations about the future of Northern Ireland.

Mr Spring has indicated he would lead his Labour Party out of the coalition government if Sinn Fein were allowed to join talks ahead of a total cessation of violence. Mr Reynolds emphasised: 'I never suggested that a temporary ceasefire for three months or six months would provide a seat at the conference table for Sinn Fein.'

According to the Press Association, Republican sources in Belfast said senior IRA members told supporters a fortnight ago that a ceasefire would be announced 'before the start of September'. Nationalists in the Falls, Twinbrook, Andersonstown, Springfield, Turf Lodge, Markets, Ardoyne and New Lodge all claim to have received the same information.

The ceasefire may follow talks in Belfast later this week between Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, and a group of influential Irish-Americans.