Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Set a Date for All-Party Irish Talks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Set a Date for All-Party Irish Talks

Article excerpt

For 15 months now, the British have been stalling on starting talks with unionists and republicans in Northern Ireland and the Irish government. When he visits London, Dublin and Belfast this week, perhaps President Bill Clinton can persuade the British that the cease-fire cannot hold indefinitely and that a date for all-party talks should be set.

Prime Minister John Major has insisted that before the talks can be held, the Irish Republican Army must give up its arms. The IRA is not to have a seat at the negotiating table, but its political wing, Sinn Fein, would. However, the IRA refuses to disarm until talks start and progress is in evidence. There matters have stood since the IRA declared a cease-fire in August 1994.

One potential solution to the impasse is to have parallel meetings, as Sinn Fein has suggested. One group would talk about the future of Northern Ireland, the other about disarming the IRA and the Protestant paramilitary groups. Mr. Major's obstinacy can probably be traced to the parliamentary seats held by Conservative Party members from Northern Ireland, who see the talks as a threat to the status quo. …

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