IRA extending Yule truce to 4 days


BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- The Irish Republican Army plans to extend its traditional Christmas cease-fire by a single day to four days -- starting Thursday -- but said it is impossible to extend it further until it gains a consensus on the new Anglo-Irish peace plan, sources said yesterday.

The Republican movement -- made up of the IRA and the political party Sinn Fein -- was said to be trying to slow down the hype and anticipation of a quick settlement. On Saturday, Martin McGuinness, deputy leader of Sinn Fein and, reputedly, one-time IRA military commander, said the party will "initiate a process of nationwide consultations" before giving a detailed response to the peace proposal issued last week.

Sinn Fein officials said they are concerned that the document released by British Prime Minister John Major and Irish Premier Albert Reynolds doesn't specify whether they would set up a mechanism to force the Protestant majority to negotiate or allow the Irish government a greater say in the daily operation of Northern Ireland.

Writing in the Dublin Sunday Tribune, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said: "There can be no real movement unless London plays a central and positive role, and no matter how reasonable or facilitating we are, nothing can move unless London joins the persuaders."

Meanwhile, a bomb scare -- a coded warning that is the hallmark of IRA tactics -- yesterday forced the closure of several London railway stations for as long as 12 hours.

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