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Monday, December 8, 1997 Published at 10:45 GMT


Fresh row over multi-party talks

Fresh controversy surrounds the multi-party talks on the future of Northern Ireland after the Sinn Fein negotiator, Martin McGuinness, said they will not achieve a united Ireland.

Attending a protest against the continued presence of the military in the province, he said: "We're not saying to our supporters that there will be a united Ireland by next May."

[ image: Martin McGuinness:
Martin McGuinness: "Talks must be part of a wider process"
"It isn't going to work like that," he said, "and I think the electorate understands that the peace talks are only part of a wider process."

His words are the strongest evidence yet that Sinn Fein still regard the peace talks as unlikely to break the deadlock in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile the Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, has also voiced his disapproval of the Government, accusing the Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, of pushing his party out of the talks.

"We are astonished at the way in which she [Mrs Mowlam] has conducted matters in Northern Ireland since the summer," he said. "I got the feeling that she was trying to drive us out of the talks in September and after seeing her handing out concession after concession, I've got that feeling again."

[ image: David Trimble says Mo Mowlam is forcing Unionists out]
David Trimble says Mo Mowlam is forcing Unionists out
He said he hoped that the Downing Street meeting between the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and Sinn Fein set to take place later this week, would not go ahead and again warned the Prime Minister that he was putting the muti-party talks at risk.

But the Government says that far from trying to push people out of the talks, Mrs Mowlam is trying to encourage them in.

'Britain must go', says Adams

The Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, has said he will tell Tony Blair, "it's time for Britain to go" when the two men meet at No 10 Downing Street this week.

At a Sinn Fein commemoration ceremony in County Cork, in the Irish Republic, he said the talks, scheduled for Thursday, were "another phase in the republican struggle."

[ image: Gerry Adams will tell Mr Blair that Britain must go]
Gerry Adams will tell Mr Blair that Britain must go
Mr Adams stressed the importance of getting what he called, "some sense of what his [Mr Blair's] vision is of the future and how he sees the relationship between Britain and Ireland in two, five or 10 years time".

"It is important that we actually have a real engagement and try and understand each other's difficulties and each other's problems," he said.

"For the first time since 1921, a British Prime Minister is going to hear Irish republicans politely, but very firmly, tell him that it's time to go that it is time for Britain to end its constitutional claim to a part of our country."

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