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Blair asked to Meet with IRA Army Council


Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was so determined
to secure a Northern Ireland peace deal that he sought
secret meetings with IRA leaders, his former chief of staff
has said.

Jonathan Powell said Mr Blair was convinced he could use
talks to persuade the IRA's Army Council to give up their

"Tony was always convinced of the powers of persuasion that
he had to win people over," Mr Powell told Manchester's
Guardian newspaper, which is serialising his book about the
peace process.

"About three or four times he suggested to Gerry Adams that
he should meet the IRA Army Council. Adams said 'well I'm
not really sure about that'. One time he said 'yes, maybe',
but then it came to nothing."

Mr Powell, who was one of Mr Blair's key advisers throughout
his 10 years in Downing Street, was a key player in securing
the Belfast Agreement.

He defended the decision to concentrate on dealings with
Sinn Féin and to offer concessions.

"We certainly believed there was every chance that the IRA
might go back to violence, just as they had with the Canary
Wharf bomb [in 1996]," he said.
Wanting to meet with the RA Army Council seems like it might be going a bit too far. And why did Blair ask Gerry Adams? Adams knows nothing about the RA...

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