by Paul Goodman AS the political initiative to bring peace to Northern Ireland stands on the brink of collapse, Kevin McNamara, the Labour Party's front-bench spokesman on the province, has issued a last-ditch appeal to participants urging them not to let negotiations stall.
Speaking in Oxford, Mr McNamara pleaded with Northern Ireland's political parties to "concentrate" on the substance, not the symbols: look for solutions, not problems: recognise that there is an histOric opportunity to bring about an enduring and comprehensive settlement of the conflicts in these islands."
appreciate," said Mr McNamara, "that the issues which have held up the talks are serious . . but it does appear that the difficulties in the way of the opening of the substantive talks are, though important, essentially secondary matters."
Catholic MP Mr McNamara emphasised that the framework agreed for the talks was "fully supported by both government and opposition". He added that it would be mistaken to believe "that an election and the subsequent change of government will allow anyone in Northern Ireland to avoid facing up to the realities identified by all the parties in the March 26 agreement".
The initiative, which was started several weeks ago by Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Brooke, has run into difficulties concerning stage two of the three-stage talks, which deals with the controversial issue of the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
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