Blair Offered to Meet Hooded IRA Militants

And Bill Clinton advised him to do it, new book reveals
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2008 7:37 AM CDT
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. A new book reveals Tony Blair offered to hold secret direct talks with the IRA to keep the Northern Ireland peace process alive.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – A new tell-all book by Tony Blair's chief of staff reveals that the former British prime minister offered to meet with eight leaders of the Irish Republican Army during a critical moment in Northern Irish peace talks. Jonathan Powell, one of Blair's longest-serving allies, admits in a memoir being serialized in the Guardian that the PM was ready to hold talks with terrorists wearing ski masks.

According to Powell, it was Bill Clinton, who had recently left the White House, who convinced Blair of the importance of meeting with the leaders of the IRA's militant wing. "Tony was always convinced of the powers of persuasion that he had to win people over," Powell said in an interview. Only the reservations of Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams kept the PM from becoming the first major world leader to meet an outlawed terrorist organization.