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Despite Attacks, Sinn Fein Leader Claims IRA Wants Peace With Britain

March 18, 1994|From Reuters

BELFAST, Ireland — The leader of the IRA's political wing, Sinn Fein, said Thursday that the republican guerrillas genuinely wanted peace, despite its mortar attacks on London's Heathrow airport.

"I remain convinced that the IRA is willing to deal positively with any new eventuality. It is crystal clear that the IRA are interested in developing a peace process," Gerry Adams said in a St. Patrick's Day message.

It was his most detailed assessment of an Anglo-Irish peace process since the Irish Republican Army, fighting to end British rule in Northern Ireland, fired three salvos of mortars at the airport to demonstrate its ability to hit high-profile British targets.

Adams was addressing party faithful in Belfast hours before Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds was to meet President Bill Clinton to reaffirm support for the Downing Street peace initiative, which London and Dublin launched last year.

Adams, the Sinn Fein president, said it was illogical that Britain refused his request for clarification of the Anglo-Irish plan after having held secret contacts with Sinn Fein and the IRA for more than two years.

"Despite the hard-line posturing from British politicians, realism and accommodation are not impossible," he said of London's refusal to talk to Sinn Fein until it gets the IRA to lay down its arms and itself renounces violence.

"Their (Britain's) current stance of refusing to provide clarification of the Downing Street Declaration, set against the background of three years of private contacts with Sinn Fein, is illogical," Adams said.

He said he was certain that Sinn Fein will again be in contact with the British government, despite Prime Minister John Major's adamant refusal to talk to the party.

Britain conceded last November that it had held secret communications with Sinn Fein and the IRA through intermediaries, but says the doors to further talks are now shut until Sinn Fein accepts the Downing Street peace framework.

Adams said Sinn Fein favored an earlier blueprint drawn up by himself and John Hume, head of the Social Democratic and Labor party.

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