The Irish Republic's new prime minister, Charles Haughey, has criticized British attempts to find an "internal" solution of the Ulster issue and has called for an international commission to end the violence there.
Speaking to reporters after a conference of the Fianna Fail Party in Dublin yesterday, Haughey said he would invite Britain, as the current ruler of Northern Ireland (Ulster) to an international gathering that should also include the United States and European Common Market countries.
At an address to the party conference, Haughey's first major speech since assuming the premiership two months ago at the resignation of Jack Lynch, the one-time finance minister, brought the delegates cheering to their feet, saying:
"We must face the reality that Northern Ireland, as a political entity, has failed and that a new beginning is needed. The time has surely come for the two sovereign governments [Irish and British] to work together to find a formula and lift the situation on to a new plane that will bring permanent peace and stability to the people of these islands."
Haughey went on to condemn the continuing Ulster terrorism. "All but a tiny minority understand that violence can never bring a solution and that it serves only to perpetuate division and hatred," he said.
But Ulster is "artificial and has been artificially sustained," he said and alluded to an end to British rule. "We look forward to some new free and open arrangement in which Irish men and women, on their own, without a British presence but with active British good will, will manage the affairs of the whole of Ireland in a constructive partnership with the European Community."
By calling for international action and viewing the problems of Ulster at an Irish level, Haughey dismissed current British efforts to find a solution through talks with Ulster's main Protestant and Catholic parties designed to help end direct British rule imposed in 1972.
Nevertheless, several British observers termed Haughey's address conciliatory, Ireland, overwhelmingly Catholic, has consistently opposed the association of Northern Ireland, which is heavily Protestant, with Britain. a
The terrorism is the result of the clandestine Irish Republican Army's efforts to reincorporate Ulster and violent Protestant reaction to those efforts.
"Internal" talks between Ulster's religious based parties -- a proposal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher -- have continued inconclusively over the last two months in Belfast. Refering to those efforts, Haughey said, "I don't believe the ultimate solution can come from the constitutional conference in Belfast."
British officials said they had been expecting an initiative from Haughey and the international approach was no surprise. His accession to power in December was viewed with alarm in London. As minister of finance in 1970, Haughey was acquitted by an Irish court of a charge of illegally importing weapons for the IRA.
So far, Haughey has had little contact with the British government. Shortly after he took power, Thatcher replied to a journalist who asked her view of the new Irish Leader: "I'm far too discreet to answer that."
Besides fulfilling some British expectations Haughey's statements on Ulster appear to be directed at his own party. He was selected as party leader on a surge of support for a united Ireland but has inherited a country with chronic economic problems.
A British diplomat said after Haughey's speech: "His real problems are economic -- this speech was carefully thought out for party consumption. He is feeding the faithful but has not yet shown how serious he is about Irish unity." Haughey has not renewed his party's call made when it was out of power in 1975, for complete British withdrawal from Northern Ireland. He gave no specific timetable for establishing the international commission.
Reaction to the appeal was unsurprising. There has been no official British response yet, but an official at the British office for Northern Ireland said: "The government of Northern Ireland is a matter between the people of Northern Ireland and her majesty's government."
In Ulster, the hard-line Protestant leader, The Rev. Ian Paisley, said "Mr. Haughey should learn quickly that neither Irish bullets nor Irish blarney will make the Ulster people surrender."
The deputy leader of Ulster's Catholic Social Democratic and Labor Party Seamus Mallon, called Haughey's statement "positive and constructive." British-Irish consultation on Ulster has been a major position of that party in the British-sponsored talks in Belfast.
What the reaction will be of the European countries and the United States remains to be seen but British diplomats say they do not expect the Europeans to be eager to involve themselves in the morass of Northern Ireland.