Ulster prisoners may be released

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The Independent Online
The Government has given a broad hint that releases of both loyalist and republican long-term prisoners in Northern Ireland could be speeded up if the paramilitary ceasefires survive.

The news will be seen as a move by the authorities to provide an incentive to both sides to maintain their cessations of violence. The IRA declared its second major ceasefire in July, while a loyalist ceasefire has been in existence since October 1994.

Most immediately, the news may have a calming effect in the loyalist paramilitary world, which has in recent weeks seemed dangerously restless. Loyalist spokesmen have recently complained that a number of concessions were being made to republicans, while loyalist prisoners were being ignored.