BY PAUL DAVIES
MANCHESTER - Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met British prime minister Anthony Blair at his Downing Street residence January 19 to express their opposition to British proposals to maintain the partition of Ireland. The proposals were presented in the "Provisional Heads of Agreement" by the governments of Dublin and London at the all- party talks. The reformist Social Democratic and Labour Party praised the proposals.
Following the meeting with Blair, Adams commented that "Anyone who thinks an internal settlement is going to work, or some assembly with a few nationalist nobs stuck on it is going to work, is not living in the real world." The British government is proposing to "settle" the conflict internally, within the north of Ireland, and maintain the partition that it imposed on the island by the British rulers since 1921.
The Downing Street meeting followed the murder of Fergal McCusker in Derry, Northern Ireland, the fourth killing of a Catholic in the last month by the rightist Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). "It's obvious to everyone that terror is being visited against the nationalist community in an effort to force it to accept less than they are entitled to at the negotiating table," stated McGuinness.
At least 6,000 people participated in the funeral of Catholic Terry Enright, also killed by the LVF, at one of the largest funerals in Northern Ireland in many years. An unprecedented number of sympathy notices appeared in the Irish News published in the south of Ireland.
There is growing press speculation that the British government may issue an apology for Bloody Sunday, when the army shot dead 14 civil rights protesters. Commander Derek Wilford, who headed the British forces in Derry on the day of the massacre, hinted that the British government and not the army was responsible for the killings. Commenting on a possible government apology he said, "I think the prime minister of the time should be the person who is discussing it... If people start talking about apologizing then I think one has actually got to look at who was responsible for the decision to carry out that type of operation."
Joe McKinney, a relative of one of those killed on Bloody Sunday, said in a phone interview, "We want an international inquiry, with an English judge, an Irish judge, and an international judge."
The all-party talks will move from Stormont, Northern Ireland, to London January 28. A public meeting hosted by Sinn Fein will take place at Camden Town Hall in London January 29, with Adams and McGuinness as the featured speakers.
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home