Make progress without Sinn Fein IRA bombs: New terror campaign ignores others' stake in peace.

February 21, 1996

THE THIRD BOMB in London since the IRA resumed its campaign of terror removes any pretext that Gerry Adams as president of Sinn Fein, the political affiliate of the IRA, belongs in peace talks. Either he is complicit, or he no longer speaks for the "military" arm of the Republican movement. In either circumstance, he could bring nothing to the table.

But the 17-month cease-fire in Northern Ireland and the prospect of negotiating a decent regime in the province have convinced all others of the stake they have in peace. Hope for their children, economic development, life without fear. What separates the communities of Ireland is small compared to the differences overcome in South Africa and between Israel and the PLO. And all the Irish know it.

The parties should go ahead without Sinn Fein. That would require the Ulster Unionist Party, representing the majority in the loyalist (Protestant) community, to show more initiative and flexibility than in a quarter-century. It would require the Social Democratic and Labor Party, major voice of the Nationalist (Catholic) community, to proceed without Sinn Fein despite the political capital it spent bringing in Sinn Fein. And it would require the British and Irish Republic governments to continue to work closely in harmony.

The IRA resumed terrorism in England, not Northern Ireland, in hopes that the terrorists in the loyalist community will not respond, that tit-for-tat sectarian killing will not resume and that Catholics will not blame the IRA for putting them at risk anew. None of the parties to the peace process can accept this neat distinction. Sinn Fein is interlocked with the IRA which is committing terrorism against innocent Londoners and tourists, even though in its own "military" logic this failed for a quarter-century. The IRA is committing terror because that is what it does.

While it does, back channel contacts with Gerry Adams by parties hoping for peace make sense. But no photo opportunities, no presence as a legitimate party at peace talks, and no visa for Mr. Adams to visit the United States for St. Patrick's Day fund-raising rituals can be acceptable while the bombs go off.

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