With the Northern Ireland peace process strained by three killings in two days, the IRA-allied Sinn Fein party promised Monday to stay in the talks despite its unhappiness with a settlement proposed by the British and Irish governments.
“Sinn Fein isn’t going to withdraw from the talks under any circumstances,” Martin McGuinness, the party’s chief negotiator, said after a delegation led by party President Gerry Adams met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London.
The meeting came hours after a Protestant shopkeeper was killed by an Irish Republican Army splinter group in Northern Ireland and a day after a pro-British group from the Protestant side murdered a Catholic man.
The bloodshed continued after the London talks when the Catholic manager of a taxi company in south Belfast was fatally wounded by one or two unknown gunmen.
The victim was identified as Larry Brennan, 52, who managed Enterprise Taxi. The firm had a religiously mixed staff, was based in a Protestant area and had not been targeted previously.
Police said Brennan was shot four times and died in a hospital.
Militants trying to sabotage the peace process have killed seven people since Dec. 27.
“I’m determined not to let our will be broken by these groups, these splinter groups. … They are just interested in breaking the peace talks,” Britain’s Northern Ireland secretary, Mo Mowlam, said Monday night in a British Broadcasting Corp. television interview. “I hope we will show our determination not to let them succeed.”
The peace talks resumed Monday with eight parties, including Sinn Fein, discussing a proposed legislature for Northern Ireland, one of the components of the British-Irish proposal.