After nearly 30 years of violence between Protestants and Catholics, a July cease-fire remains in place and Britain’s new leader Tony Blair has coaxed historic enemies to sit down at the negotiating table.
In September, leaders of Sinn Fein, the political voice of the (IRA) Irish Republican Army, joined the British and Irish governments and other parties representing all sides in the historic gathering. Sinn Fein, said they were ready to “compromise, compromise, compromise” to achieve a negotiated settlement to Ireland’s civil unrest.
Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams added that, “It is in a spirit of generosity, accommodation and preparedness to come to a compromise that we would go into these talks”. And in responding to Tony Blair’s prediction that Ireland would remain divided for some time, he confided that, “We say just the opposite… there should be and there can be a united Ireland in our lifetime.”
Former US senator George Mitchell said in late 1997 that he believed in his “heart and soul” an agreement would be reached in the Northern Ireland peace talks that he chairs.
To date, many parts of Northern Ireland have returned to near- normality while negotiations proceed, though painstakingly slow.