Northern Ireland's Vanishing Peace

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LURGAN, Northern Ireland: TIME London Bureau Chief Barry Hillenbrand reports that Monday's murder of two Protestant policeman ends any hope that the IRA will call a ceasefire and that Sinn Fein will be allowed into multi-party talks: "It's a sign that the IRA has switched tactics to opening a war front in the North against the police, and that Sinn Fein, despite election victories that gave Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, the party's chief negotiator, seats in Parliament, is unable to arrange a ceasefire." The incident brought a high-powered peace initiative by new British Prime Minister Tony Blair and incoming Irish PM Bertie Ahern to an abrupt halt. More important, the killings could touch off a wave of violence in an area already tense as it prepares for the annual street marches by Protestant Loyalists. "The murders occurred only about ten miles from Drumcree, where Loyalist marches will begin in two or three weeks time," Hillenbrand notes. "The Loyalist paramilitaries may now break their ceasefire and open war will be the order of the day in Northern Ireland."