LONDON ( -- Political leaders in Great Britain have united across party lines in support of a new agreement on the future of Northern Ireland.

      Reports from London indicated that Prime Minister Tony Blair would campaign actively for approval of the agreement, which will be subject to a referendum vote in May. He would be joined, the reports said, by the leaders of the major opposition parties: Conservative John Major and Liberal Democrats William Hague and Paddy Ashdown.

      Mo Mowlam, the government secretary for Northern Ireland, said that radical groups in Northern Ireland would try to scuttle the agreement, and suggested: " The best way we can help fight those pressures is to give this agreement the overwhelming support of this House."

      In Northern Ireland, leaders of two important political constituencies added their endorsement for the accord. John Hume of the Social Democratic and Labor Party said that he could foresee "the first century when there are no killings on our streets." And Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble secured the support of his party, which was viewed as a critical factor in the success of the accord.

      In Dublin, at a meeting of Sinn Fein supporters, enthusiasm for the peace agreement was more restrained. The group's president, Gerry Adams, urged his colleagues to support the measure. But he cautioned: "We hear the critics, the begrudgers, the nit pickers say: you cannot pick and choose; you have to buy into it all. But they are wrong." Adams went on to say that Sinn Fein would support only those aspects of the agreement which were in keeping with the group's overall goals. "Sinn Fein will not be caged in or bought off," he said.

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April 22, 1998 volume 9, no. 78         DAILY CATHOLIC