Former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds and President Clinton put pressure on Britain on Sunday to drop its insistence that IRA guerrillas must disarm before participating in new Northern Ireland peace talks.
But the British government stood firm on its demand that the Irish Republican Army must make “credible” progress on giving up some of its arms before its representatives can join talks on the future of the province.
Reynolds, co-author with British Prime Minister John Major of a 20-month-old peace plan for the province, said Britain was damaging prospects for peace. “This peace process is beginning to be poisoned with a surrender psychology,” Reynolds said.
Clinton, who has thrown his weight behind efforts to end one of Europe’s longest guerrilla wars, said in a leaked letter that he too favors discussing the decommissioning of IRA arms at new all-party talks rather than before them.
Clinton told Bruce Morrison, a former Democratic congressman from Connecticut and an activist in Irish causes, that talks should cover key issues of dispute among British officials, Irish republicans and Irish unionists.
“I would expect all-party talks to address policing, prisoner releases, decommissioning of weapons and other issues,” said Clinton, whose letter was leaked to the Dublin Sunday Business Post.
Clinton’s attitude was expected to irritate the British government.