Britain shows interest in new Irish peace plan



BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP)—Britain renewed hopes that recent killings in Northern Ireland would not impede peace talks by expressing interest Thursday in new Irish government proposals to end the violence.

But it was not clear whether Britain would accept a key provision of the Irish government’s overture for new negotiations—the inclusion of ‘‘men of violence’‘ in talks if they renounce bloodshed.

The Irish Republican Army and Protestant extremists have been barred from previous attempts to work out a political settlement.

British Prime Minister John Major told the House of Commons he viewed the Irish plan ‘‘with very great interest’‘ and looked forward to discussing it with Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds. The two leaders are scheduled to meet Friday at a European Community summit in Brussels, Belgium.

British government sources said there was much common ground between the two governments in the Irish initiative. But Britain would not talk to any party condoning violence, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In announcing the proposal to Ireland’s parliament on Wednesday, Irish deputy premier Dick Spring said: ‘‘We cannot be deflected from the search for peace. We owe it to the thousands of people who have died.’‘

The Irish proposals embrace six points:

_ The right of people in the north and south of Ireland to determine their own future without violence or coercion.

_ The desirability of new democratic structures for governing Northern Ireland and for relations among all parties.

_ The need for majority consent in Northern Ireland to any constitutional changes.

_ The freedom of Northern Ireland’s Protestant majority to give or withhold their consent to any constitutional changes affecting the province’s ties to Britain.

_ The Irish government’s willingness to change its constitution, which now includes a territorial claim to Northern Ireland.

_ The need to involve ‘‘men of violence’‘ in negotiations as long as they renounce violence.

Protestant leaders maintain that an IRA bombing Saturday that killed 10 people and wounded 58 others in the Shankill district of west Belfast have ended any hope of compromise with the IRA.

Spring would not say whether secret talks between John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party, which is supported by most of Northern Ireland’s Roman Catholics, and Gerry Adams, president of the IRA-supporting Sinn Fein party, had contributed to the Irish proposals.

Last month Hume and Adams delivered a report on their controversial talks to the Irish government. Hume said Thursday that its confidential conclusions had won Spring’s backing.

‘‘I have no doubt from my dialogue with Mr. Adams that he is committed, he is serious about the process to bring violence to an end,’‘ Hume said in an interview with Irish radio.

Sinn Fein supports the IRA fight against British rule in Northern Ireland and its hopes to reunify the predominantly Protestant province with the Irish republic. Hume’s party has similar aims but eschews violence.

Talks involving the two governments, Hume’s party, two Northern Ireland Protestant parties and the non-sectarian Alliance Party collapsed last November after 16 months. Sinn Fein was excluded from those talks.