Reuters : Superstars U2 Rock for N.Irish Peace Deal - U2 France
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Reuters : Superstars U2 Rock for N.Irish Peace Deal

mardi 19 mai 1998

Source : Reuters

From Reuters :

Superstars U2 Rock for N.Irish Peace Deal

Reuters 19-MAY-98 By Martin Cowley

BELFAST (Reuters) - Rock superstars U2 added their voices Tuesday to the campaign for a Yes vote in Northern Ireland’s crucial peace referendum at a rock concert that united 2,500 young Protestants and Catholics.

``A vote No is to play into the hands of the extremists. They have had their day,’’ the group’s lead singer Bono declared outside Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.

U2 swept into Belfast, three days before twin referendums on Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic on a peace accord aimed at setting up new political structures to end decades of guerrilla conflict and political feuding about British rule.

The Irish band is an icon for young people across the Protestant-Catholic sectarian gulf in the province and its music one of their rare shared commodities.

David Trimble, leader of the pro-British Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and John Hume, head of the Irish nationalist Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP), used the high-profile occasion for their first joint appearance of the referendum campaign.

Putting aside their clashing national loyalties, they are at one in backing the peace accord, which they say could rescue the province from decades of bloodshed and sectarian tension.

The two politicians stood together with Bono on the concert stage for a halting-one minute’s silence before U2 and top young Northern Ireland band Ash played for the cheering audience.

Students in jeans and sweatshirts streamed into the circular glass-fronted hall as the two middle-aged politicians in conventional suits strode forward to shake hands with Bono, dressed head-to-toe in black, and other group members.

The show was put on in an attempt to swing young voters behind the peace plan after polls suggested that many voters were wavering in their support for it.

`There is a new mood for the north, a new mood in the south. I think it is a great time to be here in Belfast,’’ Bono told a battery of media crews.

Hume, who is better known for a repertoire of Irish ballads than for a love of rock, implored Northern Ireland’s people to ``lay the foundations of lasting stability and lasting peace... and work together in our common cause.’’

Trimble, who had difficulty remembering when he last attended a rock concert, beamed and said the evening typified the ``optimistic forward looking approach’’ that he wanted for the province.

Leaders of the No campaign, who say the peace deal is designed to appease Irish Republican Army guerrillas by weakening British sovereignty, dismissed the concert as a publicity stunt.

``Mr Trimble is going to rock and roll. He’s rocking already and he’s going to roll after the 22nd (referendum day),’’ Ian Paisley, one of the chief opponents of the deal, told a news conference.

The Belfast Telegraph newspaper earlier carried a survey, conducted from May 8 to 10 among 1,500 voters, which showed 52 percent supported the agreement, 20 percent opposed it and 25 percent were undecided.

The poll suggested that Northern Ireland’s majority Protestants were evenly divided while Catholics strongly backed the deal.

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