Despite the war in Iraq, the British prime minister, Tony Blair, could return to Ireland as early as April 11. The way would then be open for an IRA response at, or shortly before, Easter.
Elections would then take place six weeks later to a new Assembly that would form a new power-sharing executive, although it’s unclear if a positive IRA response would be reciprocated by the Ulster Unionists.
That party will have to hold a meeting of its 860-strong ruling council to endorse a deal, should the party leader, David Trimble, first back it. There are already voices raised within his party against any deal, before it’s even been published.
Sinn Fein, meanwhile, is continuing to rule out any sanctions against the party for what the IRA might do in the future. Calling the sanctions demand a “deal breaker,” leading Sinn Fein figures have called it totally unacceptable.
Trimble has warned that time is running short in efforts to strike a deal, accusing Sinn F