Sinn Fein leader asks IRA splinter groups to stop violence, seeks referendum on Irish unity

Gerry Adams, leader of the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party, has appealed to IRA splinter groups to stop their violence and to support his campaign for a vote in Northern Ireland on uniting the island.

Adams, a reputed former Irish Republican Army commander, said Friday that sporadic attacks by small IRA factions make it harder to build public support for uniting Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland, the traditional Irish nationalist goal.

Adams this year has launched a campaign seeking a referendum in Northern Ireland on Irish unity, a possibility contained in the Good Friday peace accord of 1998. But he says members of the British territory's Protestant majority need to be persuaded peacefully to switch allegiance, not threatened with violence.