BY OUR NORTHERN IRELAND CORRESPONDENT
ANGLO-IRISH PEACE talks hang in the balance, yet behind the scenes discussions between both prime ministers and their negotiators will continue during the remaining days before Christmas.
Last week-end seasoned observers were admitting that some major, last minute, snags had delayed the drive towards a long-term peace pact, which, it was hoped, could be announced to coincide with the traditional IRA Christmas cease-fire.
Nationalist sources in the north reveal that much progress has been made to date, although the main obstacle to further progress seems to be plans for an allIreland conference, of all political parties, from both sides of the border. The aim of such a conference would be to work out new relationships between the administrations and people in both parts of the island.
These sources point to the fact that the Unionists have been given a "constitutional guarantee", from all the nationalist forces in Ireland, which would preserve the Union with Britain. This would represent a defeat for republicans, who argue that the northern state was imposed by Britain.