By Susan Falvella-Garraty
WASHINGTON, D.C. — British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland gave a qualified endorsement of RUC Chief Mr. Ronnie Flannagan in the aftermath of the Rosemary Nelson murder.
In Washington for St. Patrick’s Day festivities, Mowlam was asked about her confidence in the top policeman in Northern Ireland. "So far, he has shown himself to be a good leader of the RUC," Mowlam told a small gathering of reporters following her acceptance of the Catherine and Leroy Dunfey award.
She said details regarding the prominent Belfast attorney’s death were in a very cursory stage of discovery. Several human rights groups said they had spoken to Mowlam in Washington Monday evening to demand that an international component be included in any investigative work into the case.
Mowlam denied on Tuesday that Nelson had ever asked for police protection because of previous death threats. Mowlam said Nelson was offered protection but did not avail herself of it.
"We have done everything we can," Mowlam said. "Rosemary’s not alone in this — there are others in one community that don’t want the protection that is there."
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Mowlam said others on Nelson’s behalf had asked for protection, but without her personal cooperation, nothing could be done.
Joining the secretary of state in a roundtable discussion was UUP leader David Trimble and his deputy in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Seamus Mallon of the SDLP.
During the discussion, Mallon again outlined a proposal that would have the IRA pronounce its intention to decommission offer a specific time period. He said this should satisfy the Unionist opposition to forming government with members of the Sinn Fein party.
Trimble said afterward that it would be acceptable to him to go into government with Sinn Fein under those circumstances.
Trimble was asked whether decommissioning of some arms would be required prior to entering into the Executive or if it could it happen in tandem.
"A timetable coupled with some sort of gesture would make it possible," Trimble said, even if that meant he would call the Executive into session and the decommissioning took place immediately or a few hours afterward.
Trimble noted the absence of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at any of the various events involving Northern Ireland politicians in Washington today.
"He’s worried the White House is going to hold his feet to the fire," Trimble said. "You don’t see him running around here like usual."
Adams was due in Washington Tuesday at the American Ireland Fund dinner in honor of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy.