Peace talks fundamentally flawed,’ Sinn Fein tells rally

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — The IRA-allied Sinn Fein party denounced Northern Ireland’s peace talks as “fundamentally flawed” Sunday and called for a speedy meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Sinn Fein’s demands came hours before the Belfast talks resume without the party, which has been ejected for two weeks as punishment for two killings blamed on the Irish Republican Army. The IRA’s adherence to a 7-month-old truce is the key condition for Sinn Fein’s eligibility.
The British and Irish governments, which co-sponsor the talks, say Sinn Fein can return March 9 if the IRA is not implicated in further violence. Participants are supposed to agree on how to govern Northern Ireland by May.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams emphasized he expects Blair to meet him during the party’s two-week expulsion, otherwise Sinn Fein might not return to negotiations that lacked what he called “credibility.”
Gerry Kelly, a Sinn Fein negotiator best known for his IRA career as a car bomber and prison escape mastermind, told about 1,000 subdued supporters in front of Belfast City Hall that the party would be “as tactical as we’ve always been” in judging whether to rejoin the talks.
“These talks remain fundamentally flawed, and the two governments must act urgently to rectify that situation,” Kelly said, accusing them of caving in to intimidation by Northern Ireland’s main pro-British Protestant party, the Ulster Unionists.
Hours before Sinn Fein’s rally, Protestant congregations gathered at their bomb-damaged churches in Moira, where an explosion wrecked the town’s police station and surrounding homes and businesses Friday night, hours after Sinn Fein was expelled.
No group has claimed responsibility for leaving the 500-pound car bomb in the mostly Protestant town 20 miles southwest of Belfast.
Police consider the most likely suspect to be the Continuity IRA, a breakaway group opposed to the IRA truce and to Sinn Fein’s pursuit of negotiations.