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Thursday, April 1, 1999 Published at 18:26 GMT 19:26 UK

UK Politics

Analysis: An 'ingenious' compromise

Attempt to bring together divided political leaders

By Political Correspondent Tim Franks

The Search for Peace
The plan being put before Northern Ireland's politicians is ingenious. It is an attempt to make both sides take a leap of faith at the same time.

If the parties agree when the talks reconvene on 13 April, then the province's four major parties will be able to nominate members for a cabinet of Northern Ireland ministers.

[ image: Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams: Disappointed]
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams: Disappointed
A power-sharing executive will include members of the IRA's political wing Sinn Fein, as well as unionists who want to keep the link between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

But these ministers will not yet have any power. That will have to wait until a day, no longer than a month later, when what is called a collective act of reconciliation will take place.

That means that paramilitaries will be expected to start disarming. Only then will power be handed over from London to Belfast.

Tony Blair: "We now have a basis for an agreement"
Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was convinced this paper was a basis for agreement.

Unionists are more happy than Sinn Fein, who say they are disappointed that another deadline for agreement has been missed and who say that they cannot deliver IRA weapons.

There is also always a danger here in Northern Ireland that a pause in political activity can be filled by violence.

But after a week of mood swings and highly pressurised negotiations, this adjournment is not nearly as damaging as it could have been.

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