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Secret talks with NI dissidents questioned
Mon, 16 Aug 2010 08:33:44 GMT
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Following revelations that London and Belfast may be engaged in secret talks with the Republican dissidents in the Northern Ireland, analysts are warning that drawing parallels with 1990's Sinn Fein will be far fetched.

On Thursday, Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that British and Irish governments have covertly held talks with the Republicans involved in the recent bombings.

Yet Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson earlier dismissed any such ideas.

McGuinness from Ireland's biggest republican party Sinn Fein was the very secret negotiator via a "back channel" in Derry with John Major's government in 1993.

Republican groups fighting for independence of Ireland from Britain have been reportedly behind the recent bombings targeted at security forces which have left several people injured.

"Some of these dissident groups, I know for a fact, have been involved in discussions with both the Irish and the British government in recent times," McGuinness told the BBC radio.

Both London and Irish government rejected any such claims, calling to mind Major's remarks seventeen years ago that it would "turn my stomach" to talk to the likes of Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader since 1983.

The government did sign a peace treaty with Sinn Fein in 1998 which resulted in the present devolved government in Northern Ireland.

But experts say it is not easy to ignore the MI5 intelligence gathering operations within the then Provisional Irish Republican Army which convinced the government in London that a major peace streak in IRA could be shored up to help the realization of a peace agreement.

It is also being argued that the broken nature of the republican resistance in Northern Ireland means London and Belfast are not facing a united front which can be talked into a truce through employing spies who advance the peace party.

Among the three dissident groups now active in Northern Ireland, the Continuity IRA has even refused to discuss an end to its armed campaign even with Sinn Féin, let alone the British or Irish governments.

Also Oglaigh na hEireann seems to be stepping up its bomb attacks aimed at undermining the diplomatic process rather than promising a future peace accord.

AMR/HE

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