Unionist leader calls for concessions by Dublin

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The Independent Online
David Trimble, the new leader of the Ulster Unionists, will today visit Dublin and urge John Bruton, the Taoiseach, to take Ireland back into the Commonwealth, to create a single currency by merging the punt with the pound, and to end the Irish Republic's constitutional claim to the North.

"We hear a lot about the concessions needed by the British government to break the impasse, but so far the Irish government has done nothing," said a senior Ulster Unionist source. "We think they should return to the Commonwealth of nations, just as South Africa did."

The old hostilities between the loyalists and the republicans broke out yesterday in Glasgow, when loyalists pelted Sinn Fein supporters with bottles outside a rally by Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president. Five people were arrested for fighting.

Mr Adams renewed his demands for the British government to drop its requirement for the IRA to make progress on decommissioning arms before Sinn Fein is allowed into all-party talks with the Ulster Unionists. He said: "A total demilitar- isation of the situation is an objective of the peace process. It is achievable. What we have had is an achievable objective being turned into an obstacle."

There has been urgent diplomatic action in Washington to seek a way through the impasse to all-party talks before President Bill Clinton visits Britain and Ireland at the end of the month. John Hume, the SDLP leader, yesterday called on London to set a date for the talks to begin but no moves are expected before the end of next week's Tory conference.

The Ulster Unionist leaders remain convinced that there will be no return to violence in spite of the warnings by Mr Adams and the statement by the IRA before the Sinn Fein delegates' conference in Dublin at the weekend.

"I still think most people in the IRA recognise that the conclusion they reached in 1994 that there must be a ceasefire was because they cannot win," said John Taylor, the deputy leader of Ulster Unionists. "They weren't beaten, which is why there is no question of any surrender. But they recognise that if they start fighting again - and some want to - they still cannot win."

It will be the first time that an Ulster Unionist leader has visited the Government's buildings in Dublin. Mr Trimble will have lunch with Mr Bruton after launching an Ulster Unionist book.

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