The British and Irish prime ministers will unveil their blueprint for reviving Northern Ireland’s peace process in Belfast today but there are signs it will not be accepted by all sides. Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are trying to resolve a dispute between pro-Irish republicans and British unionists that led to the suspension of the province’s power-sharing government.
IRA arms is again the stumbling block. The militant group has agreed to give up its weapons but will not concede to a unionist demand that the disarmament process be photographed. Ian Paisley, the leader of the main unionist party, the DUP, has said if there is no photographic evidence of disarmament he will not commit to any new deal on sharing power with Sinn Fein. Both the British and Irish leaders say they are not giving up hope. But Ahern has hinted that a ‘major difficulty’ remains which could derail the agreement.