Britain rules out talks with N.Ireland militants

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Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson on Monday dismissed the idea of talks with dissident republicans blamed for a series of attacks in the province.

Following five attempted bomb attacks in less than a week, their campaign, aimed at destabilising the peace process, is causing mounting concern among security chiefs in London, Belfast and Dublin.

Paterson made clear there would be no moves by the British government to start a negotiating process in a bid to persuade the dissidents to end the attacks.

"You cannot have any meaningful talks with people who are not committed to peaceful means," he told BBC radio. "They are not listening.

"They are a very small armed group with no discipline or clear focus on where they are going."

Political representatives of the dissident groups have already rejected an invitation to talks by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

Sinn Fein, the Catholic main republican party, which was the political wing of the Irish Republican Army paramilitaries, is in Northern Ireland's power-sharing government, which has devolved powers from London.

The IRA ended its armed campaign in 2005, vowing to pursue a united Ireland by peaceful and political means.

The two main dissident republican factions are the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA splinter groups, who are opposed to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The Protestant majority in Northern Ireland largely favours keeping the province as part of the United Kingdom, while Catholics largely favour integration with the Republic of Ireland.

© 2010 AFP

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