A Warm Reception for the Northern Ireland Peace Deal

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Polls indicate that more than 70 percent of voters support the Northern Ireland peace agreement, which must be approved in a May 22 referendum. The campaign, however, has just begun, and will clearly be nasty in the North. Peter Robinson, deputy leader of Ian Paisley's Protestant Democratic Unionist Party, called the agreement "the mother of all treachery." He also told TIME that should President Clinton visit the province to encourage support for the agreement, as has been proposed, "we will not give him a free hand to go around and do whatever he wants. He will be subject to the cut and thrust of the hustings of Northern Ireland political campaigns." Paisley's party is well known for its gangs of bullyboys who play rough during elections. Could Robinson be threatening disruptions? "One thing we will not do is give prior warning of our intentions," he replied. The White House says there has been no decision, but that Paisley's opposition will be "irrelevant" to what Clinton does. On the Catholic side, Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, has been holding a frantic series of meetings with the people who, as Adams says, "made the struggle, made the sacrifices and made the big commitment" -- in short, the I.R.A. So far, he is getting a mixed reaction, but he is confident that he will ultimately bring them along.