N. Ireland peace plan suffers setback as positions harden

January 03, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

LONDON -- A peace initiative for Northern Ireland received a severe setback yesterday after increased violence in the province was followed by unyielding statements by Irish republicans and British Prime Minister John Major.

In London, Mr. Major gave the Irish Republican Army a "take-it-or-leave-it" ultimatum, referring to the peace proposal that he and Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds signed Dec. 15.

Mr. Major warned the IRA and its political arm, Sinn Fein, that they would face international isolation if they reject the proposal to end 25 years of violence in Ulster, as Northern Ireland is also known.

"We are not entering into negotiations," Mr. Major said yesterday, a day after an IRA bomb blitz of stores in the Belfast region caused millions of dollars in damage. "The joint declaration lies .. on the table."

In an interview in a Dublin newspaper yesterday, top Sinn Fein official Martin McGuinness condemned the British-Irish peace plan because it fails to commit Britain to a troop withdrawal and gives the Protestant Unionists in Northern Ireland final say on the province's future.

"I'm afraid the prospects of the declaration . . . to say the least, are worthless," he said.

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