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The Ulster Declaration: Reynolds optimistic over loyalist ceasefire: The Dail

ALBERT REYNOLDS, the Taoiseach, last night spoke optimistically about signals he had received that a loyalist paramilitary ceasefire could follow an end to IRA violence. He also attempted to drive a wedge between their organisations and Ian Paisley.

Mr Reynolds, addressing the Dail last night on his return from the London summit, said the loyalists claimed their violence was reactive. 'I am informed on reliable authority that their violence would cease soon after a cessation of republican violence.'

In a scathing attack on the Democratic Unionist Party leadership, Mr Reynolds said even the loyalist paramilitaries disliked Mr Paisley's attempts to use them as a political lever. 'I deplore the tendency on the part of some politicians to exploit the threat of a loyalist backlash, in a way that is often, I am informed, disapproved of by the same loyalist paramilitaries themselves.'

The Taoiseach said the declaration would help create a level political playing field, leaving no excuse for violence. He reiterated that Dublin had 'no interest in creating by force a united but unstable Ireland'. He promised Unionists that 'unless and until we can persuade a majority of the people of Northern Ireland to join with us, there will not be a united Ireland. We have no ambitions to take over the territory of Northern Ireland, but ignoring its people.' He ended by appealing directly to the Provisional IRA to respond to the expressed wishes of the electorate and stop its campaign. 'Let us be prepared to bring everyone who has been excluded in from the cold.' He added: 'There is no Unionist veto, only the consent of a majority.'

Earlier, on arriving at Dublin airport, Mr Reynolds said the proposed forum for peace and reconciliation could emerge only if the violence was first brought to a close: 'That (the forum) would be predicated on a ceasefire.'

The Protestant Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, gave strong backing to the document, saying it showed courage. 'This is a realistic approach by the two prime ministers. I know there are parts of it people won't be happy with, but we're dealing with a very complex situation. If there's going to be a settlement someone has got to recognise that on all sides people are not going to get everything they want,' he said.

The declaration was welcomed by John Bruton, leader of the main Dail Opposition party, Fine Gael. He cautioned, however, against using the excuse of waiting for an overall political settlement to delay action on constitutional reforms in the Republic 'into the indeterminate future'.