Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam and the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams hold their first face to face discussions since the breakdown of the last IRA ceasefire in February 1996.

As both sides met in Stormont, security sources in the North said the IRA’s new ceasefire is being fully observed.

This meeting is just as significant for its symbolism, as for its actual substance.  Both sides laid out their respective positions with more meetings planned for the coming weeks.  

Gerry Adams appeared to indicate that Sinn Féin, who had put their agenda firmly on the table, might be prepared to make concessions in some areas,

This state needs to be fundamentally changed.  And that means right across a range of issues, that there has to be deep-rooted fundamental change, on constitutional issues, on political issues, economic issues, social issues, and cultural issues.

For her part, the Secretary of State Mo Mowlam said that a wide range of topics had been discussed, including confidence-building measures.  Mo Mowlam said that inclusive talks were the best way of ensuring a lasting peace, 

The only way that, in my opinion, we are going to get to a state where we do not get further killings and violence that lose further lives, is unless we sit down and talk inclusively across the board in Northern Ireland. That is what we’re trying to do, and I think we’re closer than we have been in many many years.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 6 August 1997.  The reporter is Michael O’Kane.