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A modest separation

Derek Coombs once arranged secret talks between the IRA and the British government. He now believes talks cannot work-but re-drawing the border might

By Derek Coombs   May 1996

In the early 1970s I was responsible for arranging an extraordinary meeting between the IRA and senior figures in the Conservative administration. The talks, alas, came to nothing; but a few months later, in December 1973, the Sunningdale agreement led to the power-sharing executive-the closest we have ever come to a Northern Ireland solution. In the end power sharing was sunk by the unionists. Today, they would be happy to accept such an arrangement, but nationalist demands have moved on since that time.

Nearly a quarter of a century later, with the resumption of IRA bombing fresh in our minds,…

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