Unofficial IRA ceasefire is denied

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The Independent Online
A report that an unofficial IRA ceasefire has been in place for several weeks to facilitate private negotiations between Sinn Fein and the Government was denied yesterday by both parties. John Hume, the SDLP leader, who has been acting as a channel of communication between the two sides, also said he was not aware of an unofficial ceasefire.

Although the denials were comprehensive, they have not dispelled the widespread belief that serious negotiations are under way, which could lead to a renewed IRA cessation of violence.

The Prison Service refused to comment last night on reports of an escape plot uncovered at Full Sutton Prison, near York, where bars of soap containing master-key impressions for two high-security jails were discovered in a cell vacated last week by the IRA gunman Michael O'Brien, who is now completing his 18-year sentence in Ireland.

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