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Sinn Fein takes plea for clarification of joint declaration to Downing Street

SINN FEIN officials went to Downing Street yesterday to hand in a letter demanding clarification of the British and Irish governments' declaration on the first day of the IRA's three- day ceasefire.

But the letter is likely to get short shrift. Downing Street said last night: 'The Government position is clear. We are not negotiating and we are not going to clarify the declaration. They know what needs to be done: a renunciation of violence.' Earlier, at a Sinn Fein press conference in central London, its chairman, Tom Hartley, maintained that the first Easter ceasefire in more than two decades represented a building-block for peace and should be seized upon by the British government.

'The potential of this initiative provides an opportunity to break the impasse which the British government has erected,' he said. 'It is a step forward and deserves an imaginative response from the British government.'

However, anticipating the Government's likely rejection of the demand for clarification on three broad but undisclosed issues, Sinn Fein said it would continue to explore avenues in the search for peace.

Shots were fired from a car at a taxi office in a Catholic area of West Belfast last night. The incident bore the hallmarks of an attack by extreme Loyalists. Nobody was injured.

(Photograph omitted)