Northern Ireland peace "tantalisingly close"
Peace in Northern Ireland is "tantalisingly close", the former Prime Minister John Major has claimed, provided that a climate of trust can be restored.
Giving the Children For Peace lecture in Warrington he was speaking just over 10 years after an IRA bomb exploded in the Cheshire town, killing three-year-old Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry, 12, and injuring 56 other people.
Major said he hoped Northern Ireland would not have to wait much longer for a final admission from paramilitaries on both sides of the divide that "the war is over".
"A settlement, with goodwill and an outbreak of trust, could be tantalisingly close and, if achieved, would lead to the progressive withdrawal of troops from Northern Ireland, the monitoring of ceasefires, new policing arrangements, human rights changes and the return of the assembly," he said.
"We need also the end of all preparations for paramilitary activity by loyalists and republicans alike. The end of paramilitary will being enforced on the streets. Above all - again and again -the restoration of trust" he said.
Tony Blair, and the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, are due in Northern Ireland in six days to publish their blueprint for restoring devolution.