The Loyalist Ceasefire: Reynolds urges Major 'to lead and not to lag'

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The Independent Online
THE TAOISEACH, Albert Reynolds, yesterday urged John Major to seize the moment and secure Northern Ireland's new-found peace by addressing vital issues of policing and the withdrawal of troops from the streets of the province, writes Alan Murdoch.

He called on the Prime Minister 'to lead and not to lag' in striving for political progress without delay. He increased pressure for an early withdrawal of troops, saying: 'We must now all work for the consolidation of peace and a demilitarisation of the entire situation.'

He said he understood London's delay until now in accepting the IRA cessation of violence. 'But we're into the seventh week (of the ceasefire) and there's a responsibility on the governments to lead from here on in.' Earlier, in the Dail, he said issues of law enforcement and policing, prisoners and 'the safe and permanent disposal of weapons' needed to be addressed 'with all possible speed'.

Mr Reynolds has wooed republicans throughout the process by holding out the prospect of a general demilitarisation. His choice of words on eliminating paramilitary arms underlined Dublin's belief that expecting the IRA to hand over weapons to British forces is unrealistic, as this would be seen in republican areas as surrender.