The Ulster Declaration: Irish increase pressure for ceasefire

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The Independent Online
IRISH pressure on the IRA and Sinn Fein leadership increased yesterday as the leaders of all three main Opposition parties in the Dail joined in the concerted calls for the Provisionals to declare a permanent ceasefire in response to the joint declaration, writes Alan Murdoch.

The Irish media reflected the sense of urgency and opportunity. The front page headline on the largest selling Irish daily, the Irish Independent, read 'It's up to the gunmen', while its tabloid stablemate, the Star, proclaimed 'It's Up to You Gerry'. The nationalist Irish Press front page declared 'Give Peace A Chance - Hopes now lie with Sinn Fein'.

The Progressive Democrat leader Mary Harney said that the British 'have quite clearly made their view known that it's a matter for us Irish people to decide the destiny of this island North and South. They (the IRA) will never get a better opportunity to be involved in new structures . . . on this island.'

But there were warnings that the handing over of paramilitary arms and explosives could prove a serious obstacle. The leader of the Democratic Left, Proinssias de Rossa, himself a one-time Republican who renounced violence, pointed out that there had been 'no history of the IRA, ever since the Twenties, giving up arms'.

John Bruton, leader of Fine Gael, the largest opposition party with a traditionally hard-line law and order stance, insisted that IRA arms dumps in the Republic would either have to be handed over or 'verifiably destroyed'.

He added that this would have to underpin any future constitutional role for Sinn Fein.