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UK: NORTHERN IRELAND: THE LATEST ON NORTHERN IRELAND (JUNE 99)

Tony Blair is coming more and more under pressure by the Northern Irish Unionists (led by David Trimble), as they expect him to overcome the impasse (standstill) following the Good Friday accord. Although all parties involved in the peace process promised to be committed to democracy and peace (without arms), the issue still remains the decommissioning of weapons by the IRA. Blair set himself an 'absolute deadline' (June 30, 99) when the deadlock over the IRA disarmament has to break.
This seems to be more wishful thinking than reality, as the Orangemen (Protestants) brace themselves for the marches and parades to start, thus celebrating eg. the Battle of the Boyne on July 12. More than 1.300 British troops are being sent to and deployed in the province to secure peace. This also means rising tensions in the weeks to come and no give in by the IRA as to the handing over of their weapons.
Anger among the Unionists have also been fuelled by the release from the Maze prison of Patrick Magee who was charged for the Brighton bombing of 1984. He was sentenced to 8 life sentences but released last Tuesday (22 June) after less than 14 years in jail. This is a move by the British and Irish governments (Blair and Ahern) which the Unionists can hardly understand.
With Tony Blair having set above mentioned deadline, the consequences of a failure of the IRA to decommission can either be a break-up of the whole peace agreement or a closure of the Assembly, the Northern Irish parliament. Both would be diastrous for the people of Northern Ireland.




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