Bomb Derails Ulster Peace, Again

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BELFAST: Another day, another bomb, another hitch in the Northern Ireland peace talks. No-one has claimed responsibility for Tuesday morning's police-station blast, and no-one was hurt. But that hasn't stopped Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble blaming the IRA, and calling for Sinn Fein to be excluded from the fledgling talks just one day after the Republicans arrived. Is this justified? "The IRA denies it, and they're probably telling the truth," says TIME's London Bureau Chief Barry Hillenbrand from Belfast. "It looks to be a Republican splinter group. This shows how fragile these talks are: anyone who wants to and there are many who do can derail them."

The Unionists, who had already refused to sit down with Sinn Fein while the IRA still held weapons, now look even less likely to return to the bargaining table. Which is hardly suprising, considering the historical emnity involved. As Hillenbrand says, "No one expected that after 30 years there'd be peace by Christmas."