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Irish Leader Urges Sinn Fein To State Whether Or Not It Supports Bombings

Wed., June 19, 1996

Ireland’s prime minister opted not to cut off contact with Sinn Fein leaders Tuesday, but he insisted they state publicly whether or not they support the IRA’s renewed campaign of violence.

Prime Minister John Bruton would have preferred to cut contacts with the IRA-allied Sinn Fein party entirely to protest Saturday’s bombing in Manchester, England, and the earlier IRA killing of an Irish anti-terrorist detective, his aides said.

But after a daylong Cabinet meeting, Bruton’s government decided that ending communication with Sinn Fein would make a new cease-fire less likely.

Instead, the government released a statement in which Bruton posed two questions to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams: “Has he yet gone to the IRA to ask for a cease-fire, and if not, why?” and “Does his party continue to support the ‘armed struggle’ of the IRA?”

The statement added: “These are simple questions, which any democratic political party should be able to answer.”

Adams dismissed Bruton’s public appeal as “discourteous.”

Sinn Fein was excluded from U.S.-backed peace negotiations, which opened last week, because the IRA broke its 17-month cease-fire on Feb. 9, killing two men with a bomb in London. Both governments insist that a new cease-fire is Sinn Fein’s only ticket to the talks.

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