SF leader calls for talks with British officials


IF the British government really wanted to try to find a way through the present deadlock it should initiate talks with Sinn Fein at the level of government officials, the Sinn Fein leader, Mr Gerry Adams, said yesterday.

The SF chairman, Mr Mitchel McLaughlin, meanwhile suggested that if all party negotiations including Sinn Fein were opened this would be a way of testing whether or not the IRA could demonstrate a commitment to peace.

If the IRA acted in bad faith, then everybody would be able to see that, including Sinn Fein," said Mr McLaughlin. He also said that if the British Prime Minister, Mr Major, convened immediate all party negotiations, he believed "that we can have an IRA ceasefire, even before Christmas".

Both men made their comments before yesterday's bomb attack in north Belfast.

Mr Adams told The Irish Times that because of the lack of direct contact between his party and the British government he was loved to interpret the British Prime Minister's position from his television appearances and press interviews.

The SF president deplored the "insulting tone" of Mr Major's remarks in an interview published in the Belfast Telegraph last week. In that interview, Mr Major was quoted as saying that the British government's position would be "immovable", and that if the IRA continued with violence for the next 50 years Britain would not change its policy.

Mr Major also said: "You cannot bomb Britain out of a political position and you cannot bomb your way into the objectives that Sinn Fein seek."

Both Mr Adams and Mr McLaughlin refused to condemn the hospital attack and said that for over 25 years condemnations had not contributed anything to progress.

Mr Adams said that some politicians tried to substitute the politics of condemnation for real work to achieve a settlement.

Mr McLaughlin said: "These terrible events can only be prevented whenever we come up with a negotiated settlement. It's what we are bending our efforts towards."

Mr Adams said that he had talked by telephone to the White House during last week, and contacts with the Irish Government had continued at official level.