MORE STEPS TOWARD PEACE
JULY 21, 1997
U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair met with David Trimble, leader of N. Ireland's main Protestant party on Monday, to discuss the ceasefire announced by the IRA over the weekend. A background report analyzing the ceasefire is followed by a panel discussion on the prospects for lasting peace.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Eleven people have died in Northern Ireland since the IRA abandoned its last cease-fire 17 months ago. These most recent deaths brought the number of Protestants and Catholics killed in the Northern British province to more than 3,000 since 1969. In announcing an end to the most recent violence, the IRA said, "We want a permanent peace, and, therefore, we're prepared to enhance the search for a democratic settlement through real and inclusive negotiations."
A RealAudio version of this NewsHour segment is available.
July 21, 1997:
A panel discussion of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire announced on Saturday, July 19.
March 17, 1997:
The Greening of the White House: an Online NewsHour forum investigates U.S. - Northern Ireland relations.
July 15, 1996:
A tradition of trouble: riots continue in Northern Ireland.
July 12, 1996:
A tradition of trouble:The Orange Day Parade sparks violence.
June 14, 1996:
Is peace possible? Two Irish reporters participate in an Online forum.
The Irish Voice, an online paper for Irish Americans.
The Irish Times on the Web.
The last cease-fire was shattered in February 1996, when a massive bomb exploded in London's Canary Wharf, leaving two dead and in dozens wounded. The IRA claimed responsibility, saying the bomb was because the British, under then Prime Minister John Major, had failed to negotiate in good faith. Today, Britain's new Labor Prime Minister, Tony Blair, met with David Trimble, a leader of Northern Ireland's divided Protestant majority.
During Britain's recent election campaign, Blair promised to make every effort to resolve the Northern Ireland issue. After today's meeting at 10 Downing Street, Mo Mowlam, Britain's Northern Ireland secretary, said the prime minister and his government hope the cease-fire will continue.
MO MOWLAM, Secretary of State, Northern Ireland: After the cease-fire, what was important to so many people in Northern Ireland is that we do manage to move the talks closer forward, and we made it very clear that central to our thinking was consent.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Trimble, however, warned that for Northern Ireland's Protestants, the most important test of the IRA's intentions will be the IRA's willingness to disarm.
DAVID TRIMBLE, Leader, Ulster Unionists: There are some possibilities of progress, I think. That's the best that I can put it at the moment--possibilities. But the matter is not yet clear, it's not yet been clarified, and the prime minister is going to make further exploration of the issues to see what can be done.
CHARLES KRAUSE: The weekend's developments in Northern Ireland have been watched closely in Washington, because, unlike past U.S. presidents, President Clinton has taken an active role, trying to encourage the peace process. In March 1995, the President welcomed Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams to the White House to demonstrate U.S. support for the first IRA cease-fire, which took effect in 1994. Then in November, 1995, the President, himself, traveled to Northern Ireland to reiterate U.S. support for the peace process and a cease-fire that was then still in effect.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: As I look down these beautiful streets, I think how wonderful it will be for people to do their holiday shopping without worry of searches or bombs; to visit loved ones on the other side of the border without the burden of checkpoints or roadblocks; to enjoy these magnificent Christmas lights without any fear of violence. Peace has brought real change to your lives
CHARLES KRAUSE: But just three months later, the cease-fire came to an end. Yet, despite the resumption of hostilities, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell continued his efforts to keep the peace process going. Mitchell heads multiparty talks between the British Government, the Irish Government, and Northern Ireland's Protestants. It's expected that Sinn Fein may join these talks as a result of yesterday's cease-fire. Meanwhile, President Clinton has also continued his active interest in the situation. As recently as last month, Northern Ireland was reportedly the principal topic when he met with Prime Minister Blair for more than half an hour at the G-8 meeting in Denver. And today at the White House, Presidential Spokesman Mike McCurry said the President believes the latest IRA cease-fire is a step in the right direction:
MIKE McCURRY, White House Spokesman: The institution of a cease-fire should be permanent and unequivocal, and we certainly hope in this case it will be and that that will be demonstrated to be true over time. We laud those unionist and loyalist elements that have been--have refrained from violence, themselves, over these many months. And we hope that restraint will continue to adhere.