Two former IRA men play role in ETA ceasefire
24 March 2006 , MADRID — Two former members of the IRA have reportedly been involved in the negotiations which led to the ETA ceasefire.
24 March 2006
MADRID — Two former members of the IRA have reportedly been involved in the negotiations which led to the ETA ceasefire.
The Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported on Friday Alex Maskey, former Lord Mayor of Belfast and one-time member of the IRA, was an architect of the process.
Gerry Kelly, a member of Sinn Fein and formerly a member of the IRA, is also said to have been involved.
Northern Irish priest Father Alex Reid has confirmed he played a role.
Maskey, who nearly died in 1987 after being shot in the stomach, said the lessons learned in Northern Ireland had been invaluable to those negotiating a peace deal in Spain.
He said senior members of Sinn Fein had visited the Basque region of northern Spain and people from that area had come to Northern Ireland.
Maskey said they examined "in some considerable detail the pros and cons of our peace process, the often convoluted twists and turns" of the process in Northern Ireland."
He added that they were "learning the lessons essentially of how we have managed to move from a situation of conflict through negotiations into trying to find a way forward through peaceful dialogue".
Kelly served 19 years in the notorious Maze prison in Northern Ireland, but led a spectacular breakout.
ETA has admitted killing 817 people in its 38-year campaign for independence for the Basque region of Spain and south-west France.
It announced a permanent ceasefire on Wednesday "to promote a democratic process in the Basque country".
It urged both Spain and France to enter into peace negotiations.