By PIERS MCGRANDLE
THE POPE HAS called for an end to all violence, urging Northern Ireland leaders to look to a brighter future.
Speaking to Irish pilgrims in Rome, hours before entering hospital to face his sixth surgical operation in 15 years, he made a fresh plea to end all the differences.
"Let us all pray that the Irish people will put tension and conflict behind them and go on to build a brighter and more serene future for the future generation".
On Sunday, hours after Prime Minister John Major admitted that the peace process was bogged down, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Robert Eames, warned that time was running out for the politicians.
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, Archbishop Eames said: "I am aware and as conscious of anyone of the difficulties and problems individuals are facing, but I have to say time is not on our side".
The peace process in Northern Ireland is currently at a standstill, with frantic efforts being made behind the scenes to ensure that all efforts do not capitulate. On Tuesday, a Progressive Unionist Party delegation met loyalist Ulster Volunteer Forte prisoners at the Maze to discuss the future of the peace process.
Meanwhile, paramilitaries from the Protestant Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Freedom Fighters at the jail have already withdrawn their support because of the lack of progress, and the failure of Sinn Fein and the IRA to commit themselves to non-violence.
It is known among security circles that growing unease among the loyalist paramilitaries is threatening their own two-year truce.
In Dublin on Sunday, John Major, had an informal discussion with the Irish Prime Minister John Bruton. Both men then urged the Ulster parties to move from their entrenched positionas.
Mr Major said: "It has got bogged down, yes. But because it is bogged down does not mean that it is dead. Progress has not been as remotely as rapid as we would have liked.
"I am a veteran of being told the peace process is dead. I don't believe it".