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Sad new spur to Ulster peacemakers

The cycles of terror continue in Northern Ireland, tragically emphasizing the importance of progress toward political stability under the current joint initiatives by Britain and the Irish Republic. The latest sequence involves leading activists in the campaign to obtain political prisoner status for jailed Irish Republican Army members who were themselves convicted of terrorist acts. Four of these activists were killed last year. Now one more widely known, Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, a stormy former member of the British Parliament, has reportedly been shot and seriously wounded along with her husband.

Police said the attack on the McAliskey home was the work of a Protestant paramilitary group. The Roman Catholic-oriented IRA called it an assassination attempt by Protestant extremists.

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The need is evident for authorities to handle the episode with full and evenhanded justice so as not to foster an inflaming of divisive religious and political tensions -- and yet more rounds in the grim cycle.

Meanwhile, central to the London-Dublin initiatives, which are to be followed up this year, is a mutual determination to control terrorism and enhance security. This must be implemented along with the social, economic, and political steps to make plain that solutions for Northern Ireland can come without continued violence.

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