IRISH TAOISEACH ALBERT Reynolds appears to disagree with his foreign minister Dick Spring. John Major faces renewed calls from his backbenchers to get tough with the terrorists. SDLP leader John Hume still holds out hope of Sinn Fein playing a crucial role in forming a political solution, while his deputy Seamus Mallon believes that a faction of the IRA will never renounce violence.
Even Irish primate Cardinal Cahal Daly now appears to have his doubts. Three months after the Downing Street Declaration, Northern Ireland seems no nearer to peace.
But the biggest contradiction seems to be in the camp of the provisionals themselves, the very people who have demanded "further clarification" from the British and Irish .governments.
As three rounds of mortars rained down on Heathrow airport thankfully with only political rather than physical damage the IRA finally issued its own considered response to the Major-Reynolds initiative. The tidings bore little hope of an early cessation in violence, although somewhat incongruously spoke of the "urgent need to re-focus attention and to move the peace process forward".
By responding with, at best, overweening confidence in its own standing, and at worst deliberate intention to deceive, the IRA is in danger of digging itself into a far more damning pit than the one it dug outside Heathrow's perimeter fence last week. Time is surely running short for such obfuscation.
The IRA and Sinn Fein must, in the words of Cardinal Daly, show that "when they talk peace they mean peace, and that peace is not just a name for blackmail at the point of a gun".
Whether the gauntlet thrown down by the Downing Street Declaration has raised pangs in the IRA's darkened conscience remains unclear, but it is clearly struggling for the words to show it still possesses the initiative.
The only real political weapon in its armoury was that British and Irish governments were once fundamentally at odds over the future of the North. Now, even if the comprehensive aims of the Major-Reynolds agreement fragment, the two nations are at least allies in dialogue, and could take forward the baton alone. That possibility cannot be underestimated, not least by the republicans themselves.
The window of opportunity is fast closing and Sinn Fein could despite the rumbling optimism of its paramilitary wing that accompanies every new mortar volley yet find itself locked out in the cold.
All this amidst increasing evidence of a sea-change among the Irish people themselves. Even among Catholics in the North, there may no longer be the thirst for a "united" Ireland that existed even a decade or two ago.
If it is to have any mileage left, Republicanism must learn the lesson that staunching the blood of Ireland's wounded heart may not necessarily mean the healing of divided borders.
In the week of the feast of St Patrick, Ireland deserves a clearer sign that the long night of the Troubles may yet see a dawn.
The IRA said as much in its own statement but it must realise that the ball is still in its own court.