Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Paisley pledges to vanquish Trimble at poll

Paisley pledges to vanquish Trimble at poll

Rosie Cowan, Ireland correspondent
Friday October 31, 2003
The Guardian

Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist party, began his election campaign yesterday with a blistering promise to vanquish David Trimble and bury the Good Friday agreement.
The 77-year-old fundamentalist preacher took the stage at a south Belfast hotel, surrounded by 40 candidates, amid a stirring fanfare and rapturous ovation.

The DUP opposed the 1998 peace accord from the outset, and aims to capitalise on ebbing Protestant support for it to overtake Mr Trimble's Ulster Unionist party as Northern Ireland's biggest party, and to force a renegotiation.

With the twice-postponed Stormont poll going ahead on November 26, despite the breakdown of a deal between Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein, Mr Paisley claimed his goal was now within reach.

In a typical fire and brimstone speech, the DUP leader thundered: "Supporting Mr Trimble is to ride the roller coaster towards complete Dublin control and the reign of the IRA over Northern Ireland. At long last, it is in the hands of the unionists of Ulster to sweep IRA/Sinn Fein armed terrorists from the government of Northern Ireland, and to keep them out."

Some pundits believe that the DUP, should it come out on top, could seek some sort of accommodation with republicans. But Mr Paisley said: "It is no surrender to the IRA. We will not discuss it, we will not debate it, until you [IRA] are prepared to repent."

Ulster Unionists insist the DUP has no ideas with which to replace the Good Friday accord and nothing to offer but negativity. But Mr Paisley will do his best to exploit bitter divisions within the UUP, and feed unionist fears that Gerry Kelly, the IRA Old Bailey bomber turned Sinn Fein politician, could soon be Stormont minister of policing and justice.

The DUP owes much of its success to Mr Paisley's following: he has topped the local poll five times in the European parliament, and the party won three Westminster seats in 2001, bringing its number of MPs to five, compared with the UUP's six, although three of those are anti-agreement.

The single transferable vote system for the Stormont election is unpredictable. However, even if the DUP does not come out on top, it could join forces with other unionists to block creation of an executive.



Kevin Barry was only 18 years old when he was hanged in Kilmainham Jail for IRA operations.

On November 1st, 1920, young Barry gave his life for Irish Freedom. He was executed for his part in an IRA raid on a British Army bakery depot. The raid was not intended to kill any British soldiers but was planned only to seize food from the vans packed with fresh bread. Instead, firing broke out and six British soldiers fell dead. Only Barry was captured; with a jammed pistol and a full magazine Kevin could not have fired a single shot in the skirmish. Without this fact being taken into account he was sentenced to death for his part in the raids.

Remember Kevin Barry for what he was: a true son of Ireland.


RTÉ News: IRA putting commitments on ice


IRA putting commitments on ice
October 29, 2003

The IRA has issued a statement apparently freezing any commitments they have made until after the Assembly election next month.

The statement follows the row over the IRA's third act of decommissioning last Tuesday which was overseen by General de Chastelain's international commission.

Claiming the decommissioning lacked transparency, the Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, went on to call a halt to a political deal that had been worked out with Sinn Fein and the two governments.

Today's IRA statement to reporters in Belfast said the leadership of the organisation had honoured their commitments, but others had not fulfilled theirs - and that this was totally unacceptable.

The IRA said until others kept their word, there could be little prospect of progress.

Earlier, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told MPs at Westminster that it is important to continue implementing the Good Friday Agreement in all its aspects.

Answering a Commons question from former SDLP leader, John Hume, during prime minister's question time, Mr Blair said there was no other agreement on offer and that his government hoped to take the agreement forward.

Later, Mr Blair said that his government still had to make sure decommissioning was completed within a reasonable and proper timetable.

Irish Echo Online - News

United they stand
Troubles are more than a memory at IAUC convention
By Ray O'Hanlon

Despite the roar of aircraft landing at adjacent LaGuardia Airport, all was quiet in the room where Patrick Rooney looked out from his little square on the big quilt.

In life, Patrick never made the journey to America. He never got out of Belfast. He never even got out of childhood.

Patrick was just 9 years old when a bullet struck him in the head as he lay sleeping in his bedroom in the Divis Flats complex at the bottom of the Falls Road. He was the first child killed in the Troubles. He died after being hit by an RUC tracer bullet fired from a Browning machine gun on an August evening in 1969.

On a fall morning in New York, 24 years later, Patrick's face stared silently from his square on the Relatives for Justice Remembering Quilt.

His family had included a small altar boy's outfit beside the photograph. Patrick had been due to serve at Mass the morning after his death.

All around Patrick's square were other squares, each depicting a life lived and a life lost. They were stitched together on six separate panels that combined to form the entire Remembering Quilt, here on its U.S. debut at the Irish American Unity Conference 20th annual convention at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel.

The quilt is the work of the Belfast-based Relatives for Justice campaign, the director of which, Mark Thompson, was one of the featured speakers at a gathering which also included a keynote address from Fr. Aidan Troy, a man who knows much of the dangers that civil strife can impose on the very young.

Each panel of the quilt contains 49 squares, each one of them naming at least one person's life lost to the Troubles.

Two additional panels are now in the works, Thompson said. He said that the quilt is open to families in both communities and is not in any way judgmental. As well as people killed by "the state" and loyalist paramilitaries, it is also open to families who have lost loved one to violence from the IRA and other republican groups.

The quilt also includes dedication to a number of IRA members. And, tragically, more than one child.

Not too far from Patrick Rooney was the square for Brian Stewart, killed by a plastic bullet in October 1976. Brian is depicted holding an Irish tricolor in one hand and a placard calling for the banning of plastic bullets in the other.

That wish has yet to be fulfilled.

Brian Duffy, who was killed at the age of 15 just before Christmas, had a Christmas tree motif on his square. This though his mother has not put up a tree in the family home since her son's death.

The quilting process has to date involved the work of 2,200 people over three

years, and, in its current form, measures 50 feet by 8 feet. A total of 306 families are currently represented. Some of the squares commemorate more than one family member.

The display room at the convention wasn't big enough to display all the panels on one wall, so two panels of the quilt were displayed on each of three walls. Most of the squares included photos and all contained depictions of the individual's life, work and hobbies and interests. Attorney Pat Finucane's square had a scales of justice, but also a tiny soccer ball button.

According to Thompson, the quilt represented for many of the bereaved families "a legacy of impunity that still looms large, and which overshadows their lives and the journey toward healing and recovery."

That barrier of impunity, said Thompson, had prompted the families to search for answers to questions about why their loved ones had to die, and about the nature of a system that allowed each death to happen.

The quilt, he said, also represented historical memory and historical fact but also the hope that the awfulness of conflict was over for good, that healing and recovery would prevail and that lives, and by extension communities, could be rebuilt.

Thompson was one of about a dozen speakers and presenters at the convention, including Fr. Troy, Reps. Joe Crowley and Donald Payne, former Rep. Bruce Morrison, veteran equality campaigner Inez McCormack, New York-based attorney Eamonn Dornan, and Jarlath Kearney, son of the late fair employment campaigner from Belfast Oliver Kearney.

Troy gave a first hand account of the problems facing the Holy Cross girls school in North Belfast and the recent attacks on other Belfast schools. He said that apart from "a few thugs," the nationalist community in the city had no interest in retaliating for the loyalist campaign of intimidation aimed initially at Holy Cross and now other schools.

Troy, who is a native of Bray, Co. Wicklow, also unveiled his plans to open a cross-community center in the old Holy Cross boys school, located at the point where Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods in the Ardoyne area converge.

Also speaking to the convention gathering, McCormack paid tribute to Oliver Kearney, who, she said, had exemplified the MacBride Principles campaign for more than two decades. That campaign, she said, had lifted from people a sense of humiliation and the feeling that they were the problem.

McCormack said that despite laws in place aimed at enforcing fair employment legislation, employers in the North were "getting the sense that enforcement was not the order of the day." She said that much of the problem was due to an "institutional mindset" and that she knew of one top civil servant whose career had been "restricted" due to his efforts to implement change.

"If senior civil servants don't want to implement the law, they should get out of their jobs," McCormack said.

Carol Russell, an IAUC chapter president from New Jersey, told the gathering that despite reports of a quiet summer in Belfast, the situation there was tense and there continued to be large number of sectarian attacks.

"A lot of people are under death threat," she said.

This story appeared in the issue of October 22-28, 2003

THE BLANKET * A journal of protest & dissent

THE BLANKET * A journal of protest & dissent

Pulling The Guns Over Their Eyes

Pathological liars are brilliant at deception. They know how to make
a story sparkle, they breezily proffer instant explanations for any
little inconsistency, they're scheming all the time while you, their
mark, are preoccupied with a hundred other things. Besides, you want
to believe them - they're so charming, attentive and flattering -
Katha Pollitt

The Blanket
Anthony McIntyre • October 27, 2003
Nobody knows for certain just what was surrendered to John De
Chastelain last week except of course the general himself and elements of the IRA leadership; but not all elements of the

>>>>>>>>>click on link above for rest of story.

Thanks to an email from Briain Seán Tómas Mac Aodh :

Trimble faces election without IRA deal

Martin Nicholls and agencies
Tuesday October 28, 2003

The Northern Ireland assembly elections will go ahead without
further agreements on IRA arms decommissioning, Downing Street
confirmed today.
A No 10 statement released this morning stated that it "had not
proved possible" to resolve differences over decommissioning in
Northern Ireland but said assembly elections would take place on
November 26 as planned.

It added that the government would work "urgently" after the
elections "to create the conditions which will enable a working
executive to be formed".

This morning's announcement follows the Ulster Unionist leader,
David Trimble's decision yesterday evening to abandon plans for a
meeting tomorrow night of his 900-member ruling council to discuss
peace plans.

After a meeting with party officers Mr Trimble conceded that a deal
with republicans was impossible before the elections.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Trimble said that although some
progress had been made, time had run out to make a deal on power-
sharing before the election on November 26.

He told reporters: "There isn't unfortunately time to be able to
sort all these matters out, and who knows, had there been another
few days or a week available that might have been possible.

"But with the election having been called, and with the inexorable
movement of the electoral timetable ... obviously we may be in a
position where we can't do anything further."

Downing Street confirmed today that it "had not proved possible" to
resolve differences over decommissioning in Northern Ireland but
said assembly elections would take place on November 26 as planned.

The No 10 statement said the government would work "urgently" after
the elections "to create the conditions which will enable a working
executive to be formed".

Earlier yesterday, Sinn Féin had accused the Ulster Unionists of
walking away from the current phase of the political process.

However, Mr Trimble rejected the suggestion.

"It is not right to say that we were not prepared to proceed even at
a very late hour," he said.

"We did put proposals which, if I was to receive in the course of
the next couple of hours a clear indication that those proposals
were now operational, it is a different matter entirely, we would
roll with them."

The Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, said he was "bitterly
disappointed" that talks had not concluded before the election.

He said: "It's quite incredible that after all the work that went
into trying to sort this out, that we now end up with a situation
where I think public confidence has been damaged."

Meanwhile, the build-up to the elections continues, with news today
that a member of the Guildford Four is to feature in a party
election broadcast.

Gerry Conlon, one of four people wrongfully imprisoned for an IRA
bombing in Guildford in 1974 which killed five people, is to feature
in a broadcast by Mark Durkan's nationalist Social Democratic and
Labour party (SDLP).

The election film will be screened in Northern Ireland tonight and a
radio version will also be broadcast.

Mr Conlon's father, Guiseppe, and relations in the Maguire family,
were also wrongfully jailed for involvement in the Guildford and
Woolwich bombings.

Guiseppe Conlon died in prison in 1980 following respiratory

In October 1989, the court of appeal overturned the convictions of
the Guildford Four following a campaign by the families, Catholic
Church leaders in England and Ireland, politicians, journalists and
human rights activists.

The Guildford Four's story was turned into the controversial movie,
In the Name of the Father, by Irish director Jim Sheridan which
earned several Oscar nominations.

The SDLP's election broadcast is a variation of a film aired in May
during the initial assembly election campaign which was aborted by
the prime minister amid concerns over the IRA's intentions towards
the peace process.

Last night, Mr Trimble and his wife, Daphne, formed the basis of the
UUP's election broadcast built around the new slogan "Simply

The SDLP is facing a tough battle with Sinn Féin to emerge as the
biggest nationalist party in the assembly.

Mr Durkan's party had more six seats at Stormont during the last
assembly, but in the 2001 Westminster elections, Sinn Féin had four
MPs to the SDLP's three and edged in front in the battle for the
popular vote.

Mr Trimble had the largest number of seats in 1998 but this time is
facing a fierce battle for supremacy from the Rev Ian Paisley's
Democratic Unionist party (DUP).

The DUP were due to launch an attack today on their pro-Good Friday
agreement rivals about rate increases and water charges if the
government sticks with its current formula for devolution.


BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Elections to be held without deal

Elections to be held without deal

Talks continued after the setback over decommissioning
Elections in Northern Ireland will be held without agreement to move the process forward, the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has said.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of the party's executive on Monday, Mr Trimble said that although progress had been made, time had run out for an agreement on a power-sharing executive to be reached ahead of elections on 26 November.

Earlier on Monday, Sinn Fein accused the UUP of walking away from the current phase of the political process.

However, Mr Trimble rejected the suggestion.

"It is not right to say that we were not prepared to proceed even at a very late hour," he said.

"We did put proposals which, if I was to receive in the course of the next couple of hours a clear indication that those proposals were now operational, it is a different matter entirely, we would roll with them."

He may be engaged in a little bit of damage limitation but it is obvious Mr Trimble isn't prepared to go forward

Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein president

Negotiations have, so far, failed to bridge the gap between Ulster Unionist demands for clarity over the IRA's third arms move and the IRA's reluctance to spell out in more detail exactly what weaponry has been decommissioned.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said he was bitterly disappointed that Mr Trimble had decided to abort the process.

"He may be engaged in a little bit of damage limitation but it is obvious Mr Trimble isn't prepared to go forward, he made that clear last Tuesday" he said.

"We could have walked away, we could have engaged in a blame game, we could have been giving vent to the righteous anger that is out there."

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council to discuss a possible deal with republicans over "acts of completion" has been cancelled.

Elections to the assembly are taking place on 26 November

The meeting, due to be held on Wednesday night, was cancelled following a meeting of party officers in Belfast on Monday.

UUP chairman James Cooper said that "as there has regrettably been no progress, the meeting is off".

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said both the Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein were "walking away from the Good Friday Agreement".

"As the days go by, it is looking more and more unlikely that the problem parties, Sinn Fein and the UUP, are going to overcome their difficulties," he said.

"And it seems more and more likely that they are going to walk away from their commitments under the Agreement - to work the institutions and to end paramilitarism."

However, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said he believed there would be very different negotiations after the elections.

"I think at that stage there will be a realisation that after a one year suspension of the institutions - after it having collapsed on four occasions that the Belfast Agreement has failed and that we need new structures," he said.

"The Democratic Unionist Party has made it very clear that we are prepared to negotiate a new agreement, an agreement that will have bring stable and lasting political structures for Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein held lengthy talks over the weekend, in an attempt to achieve what Prime Minister Tony Blair has called a "positive atmosphere" in the run up to the elections.

Election date

Last week, Mr Trimble called for greater clarity on the details of decommissioning in General John de Chastelain's report.

The arms chief said the number of IRA weapons put beyond use had been "considerably larger" than before.

Despite the setback, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy made an order to enable fresh elections to take place.

The devolved administration was suspended a year ago amid allegations of IRA intelligence-gathering in the Stormont government.

Mr Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern have been in contact with the key players over the weekend, along with British and Irish officials

Mr Blair's chief of staff Jonathan Powell has been in Northern Ireland.

President George W Bush's special envoy Richard Haass has also been involved in diplomatic efforts.

General de Chastelain is not expected to return to Canada until later this week.

ic NorthernIreland - Splits in Provos Reported

Splits in Provos Reported --Oct 27 2003

INTERNAL wrangling over decommissioning is threatening to split the IRA apart, republican and Garda sources have said.

As the war of words between the UUP and Sinn Fein rumbled on yesterday over last week's failed peace negotiations, mounting pressure within the Provo ranks was threatening to boil over.

Some Dublin newspapers have reported that IRA members in the hardline areas of south Londonderry, south Armagh and east Tyrone are openly warning that they cannot accept the republican movement's current direction.

Many are said to be incensed at how far the IRA moved on decommissioning last week, only to have the act rejected by unionists.

Republican sources said that the Sinn Fein leadership had been '' outmanoeuvred'' by the UUP.

Garda Special Branch sources have said there is growing evidence of an IRA split.

Meanwhile, speculation over how much the IRA decommissioned last week has produced a consensus that somewhere in the region of 100 tonnes of arms was destroyed, including guns, explosives, heavy mortars, heavy machine-guns and surface-to-air missiles.

It is even being estimated that the IRA may have decommissioned up to a third of its weaponry in three acts of disarmament.

However, while the Provos have put some weapons beyond use, a leading UVF commander said yesterday that his organisation has no intention of handing in its guns.

In the Observer newspaper, the UVF leader said the group has enough armoury to equip at least 1,000 men.

But there was ''virtually no chance'' of decommissioning any of it in the current climate.


Sunday Business Post

The IRA war is over but nobody noticed

By Vincent Browne
Last Tuesday morning, the IRA said the war was over.

Nobody noticed. Gerry Adams and the IRA also clearly signalled that not alone was the war over, but the IRA was over. Again, no one noticed.

Sure, General de Chastelain made a mess of his press conference, and his coyness over what arms had been decommissioned overnight was infuriating for unionists, but that was a side game. By far the most important message of the day was what Adams said and what the IRA said in response.

In a wordy and characteristically intricate speech on Tuesday morning, Adams said: "Sinn Féin's position is one of total and absolute commitment to exclusively democratic and peaceful means of resolving differences."

Nothing new in that. Sinn Féin was required to sign up to this principle in the Good Friday Agreement, and he has said this repeatedly over the last five years.

However, on Tuesday morning, he went much further.

"We are opposed to any use or threat of force for any political purpose," he said.

Now, as far as I am aware, Adams has never said this before. Sure, he has said that Sinn Féin was committed to solely peaceful means, but to say that it was opposed to the use or threat of force? Never before.

What it means is that if the IRA were ever again to use force or threaten to use it, then Sinn Féin and Adams would disown it.

That in itself was a seismic development, but the earth moved again on Tuesday morning. The IRA could have made the usual bland assertions of its wish to support the peace process and gone on to claim credit for decommissioning an unspecified amount of weapons. It could simply have ignored what Adams said, signalling that it was prepared to allow Sinn Féin this latitude, but that it reserved its position on the future use of force.

Instead, it said: "The leadership of the IRA welcomed today's speech by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, in which he accurately reflects our position."

The IRA welcoming a speech that opposes the use of force or the threat of force for political purposes? And then going on to say that this "accurately reflects our position". And no one notices or pays any attention?

The raison d'etre of the IRA has been to use force and/or to threaten force for a political purpose, that is, a united Ireland.

So if Adams and the IRA agree to oppose the use or threat of force for any political purpose, isn't that saying the IRA is no more? At least, if not immediately, then certainly in the medium and longer terms?

It might be argued that it is far-fetched to read such significance into a political speech and a generalised endorse-ment of that by a linked organisation.

But this is not so in the case of Adams and the IRA. They are Jesuitical in their use of words, especially in the area of the use or threat of force for political purposes.

The Adams speech would have undergone several drafts, and its minutiae approved by the IRA army council. The brief general endorsement would have been entirely deliberate.

This is a very significant development. It is on a par with the acknowledgement in 1993 in the Hume/Adams state-ment at the beginning of the peace process that peace could be secure only with the agreement of all sections of the people. T hat sig nalle d a republican acceptance that a united Ireland could not be secured over the heads of unionists.

There was a further development in the background last Tuesday. It was the willingness of the republican movement to support the new police force in the context of the implementation of proposals which everyone else agrees to and in the context of a promise of devolution of responsibility for policing and security.

The engagement of republicans in the police force is the crucial last part of the jigsaw in copperfastening peace in the North.

With an agreed police force, there can be no paramilitary organisations and no private hoardings of illegal arms. It is a further signal that the game is over and done with.

However, all that was overlooked last Tuesday, and the hapless, exhausted general made it worse in that disastrous press conference. Now, the whole house of cards may come tumbling down - well, not the whole house, but the peace process part of it.

The elections now set for November 26 can hardly be called off. Following the debacle of last Tuesday, it seems certain that unionist voters will return a majority of antiagreement members to the Assembly, with the DUP being the biggest party (Sinn Féin could be the biggest party overall!).

This means there will be no power-sharing executive or assembly in the North for years, and perhaps the British will capitulate and back off the Good Friday Agreement.

From the beginning of this peace process, there has been a failure to convince the unionist community of the major gains the agreement represented for it.

Unionists have never perceived how nationalist Ireland capitulated in that agreement by acknowledging that the constitutional position of the North could change only with the agreement of a majority in the North - the core of Irish nationalism was always that it was the people of Ireland as a whole that had the right to decide the future of the island.

That cognitive distortion has been compounded by the failure to perceive the mega change signalled by Adams and the IRA last Tuesday.


Sunday Business Post

Mounting fears of IRA split over North deal

26/10/03 00:00

By Barry O'Kelly and Sean Mac Carthaigh
The Provisional IRA is facing the possibility of experienced volunteers leaving the organisation, according to republican and Garda Special Branch sources.

Detectives in Dublin alleged to The Sunday Business Post this weekend that their intelligence information suggested there was a serious possibility of "a split" within the Provisional IRA.

Republican sources revealed that a recent meeting of senior IRA members heard volunteers openly warning that they would leave the organisation over its change in direction.

The decommissioning of arms and the winding down of the IRA itself was signalled at the meeting.

Brigades in south Derry, south Armagh and Tyrone are believed to be divided on

the decommissioning issue. Meanwhile, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has described the IRA statement as a defining moment in Irish history, intended to usher in a new era for republicans.

In an article written by the Taoiseach for this newspaper, he said that Gerry Adams' statement last week, which was fully endorsed by the IRA, was "of key significance . . . and provides the context for the full and final closure of the conflict".

And he stressed: "We are still within an ace of success."

The IRA organisation is under severe strain because of arms decommissioning and its signal last week that it could no longer countenance political violence.

Special Branch detectives said the dissident Real IRA and Continuity IRA were both gearing up to embark on recruitment drives to exploit the vacuum within the provisionals.

However, Republican sources said there was no indication that disaffected members of the Provisionals would join either of the dissident groups. "They just said they would leave, but they did not say where, if anywhere, they would go," a source said.

"The meeting was told [by members of the army council] that there was no alternative, that they only had to look at what happened to Micky [McKevitt, of the Real IRA] and the boys down in Portlaoise," he said.

Special branch sources said the decommissioning act and the IRA's effective declaration that its war was now over had sent shockwaves through the organisation. "What we're hearing is that there will be a split," one source alleged.

Separately, republican sources said the IRA's arsenal was significantly smaller than reports suggested.The sources said one major dump containing Semtex could not be located because the man who buried it had died.

Meanwhile,Sinn Féin said it still had not received a credible explanation for the behaviour of Ulster Unionist leader David Tr imble. "We had an agreement with the UUP, the Irish government and the British government on Monday night," a spokeswoman said. "There were no surprises the next day - everything panned out as we thought it would pan out - until DavidTrimble's reaction to de Chastelain."

Last night, Sinn Fe in sources estimated there were "perhaps 48 hours to sort this out", before the North's politicians went into "election mode". There is "huge concern" at what party members see as the lethargic role of the Irish government, the sources said. "They should be leading Irish nationalism, instead of standing around briefing `we told you so'. They certainly said nothing on Monday night when we had a deal," a source said.

But in his article today, the Taoiseach says he is "deeply disappointed and frustrated that our efforts have stalled.

"I cannot believe that it will not be possible to resolve this issue,"Ahern continues. "Last week,we were within an ace of the success we have all been working for.We are still within an ace of success."

Stressing that the IRA move was "no token decommissioning," he argues that a way must be found to fully convince the Ulster Unionists of what has been achieved.


We Say: Process is not a one-way street

It’s doubtful whether the Rubber Man of comic book fame himself could deliver enough to mollify Ulster Unionists who have become increasingly angsty and nervous as the election date nears.

Certainly, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness pulled off another coup on Tuesday when they stretched the republican constituency to lengths once unimaginable and all in the name of making peace with “our unionist neighbours”.

Blameless and innocent (forget Bombay Street, Castlereagh torture, state collusion between the farces of law and order and loyalist gun-gangs, shoot-to-kill etc etc), the unionists believe that the peace process is all about making republicans and nationalists accept that they were wrong to reject the squalid Six County statelet.

Republicans and nationalists on the other hand are far from contrite about their part in rising up against British misrule. Far from it, they’re proud of the part they played in the war: That’s why former republican prisoners are genuinely accorded VIP status in nationalist neighbourhoods. Like the Free French or the freedom fighters of the ANC, they are seen as the cream of society by a community which had been battered for daring to raise such modest demands as one-man-one-vote.

But never was the status of republicans in the eye of the man and woman on the Falls Road black taxi ever higher than when the IRA sued for peace. After all, making peace with your enemies is always more difficult than making war.

When the IRA then decided to take the role of peacemaker ever further and decommission some of its vast storehouse of weaponry which had been smuggled into this country and hidden by thousands of supporters — despite threat of imprisonment and even death — once again the stock of the republican movement soared.

In fact, the cornerstone of the recent success of Sinn Féin has been its willingness to give ground in order to take ground.

For that reason, nationalists on Tuesday were willing to look on the bright side of another generous statement by Gerry Adams and a groundbreaking act of putting arms beyond use by the IRA.

However, there was a deepseated fear that the cookie monster negotiatiors of the UUP wouldn’t give the gesture a fair wind.

And so it proved. Did David Trimble lose his nerve or did he really expect a fuller statement from the Decommissioning Body? A little bit of both perhaps.
The key to win-win negotiations is that there should be no surprises.

Unionists certainly looked surprised at the lack of an inventory after the latest decommissioning event. But perhaps they had also been unnerved by the withering fire from early morning by their own dissident MPs, led by Jeffrey Donaldson.

With one ear cocked for his shrill denunciations, they didn’t hear the crucial statements by De Chastelain — albeit delivered in a roundabout way. But if they had been paying full attention, they would have heard the good general give more detail than ever before about the nature and quantity of arms and munitions put beyond use. The IRA by going further than ever before were clearly sending out a message to unionists that they will play their part in bringing war to a close. The quid pro quo for that move was movement from the two governments on nationalist demands. That movement should take place immediately.

Still, the peacemakers have emerged with their reputation enhanced despite Tuesday’s debacle. Sinn Féin can go to the electorate in the knowledge that they have tried again to square the most difficult of peace process circles. If the UUP don’t feel as confident about facing the electorate they have only themselves to blame.

Expect a no-holds-barred election campaign but when the dust settles, no matter who emerges triumphant, let all the parties get down again to the task of making peace with unionists. And let’s not lose sight of how far we’ve come. Ten years ago this weekend, we had the horror of the Shankill bomb and the Kennedy Way depot murders. The journey isn’t over yet, but we are making progress. At least, every blow to the peace process in 2003 — unlike 1993 — isn’t accompanied by a bodycount.


IRA arms move "momentous": Adams

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has described the IRA's latest act of decommissioning as "momentous".

His comments were the first indication from a senior Sinn Féin figure that the scale of the IRA's latest decommissioning act was much more substantial than previous events.

However, Gerry Adams warned that the governments would have to fulfil the commitments they had given to republicans which had made it possible to persuade the IRA to put more weapons beyond use.

He said the IRA and Sinn Féin had been given commitments before Tuesday's dramatic moves on decommissioning. The Sinn Féin chief, who met informally with David Trimble on Sunday morning as the two men were engaged in media briefings, said republicans were angry at the latest turn of events.

"There's huge anger and frustration within republicanism that republicans have done all of this, and had nothing in return," he said.

Journalist:: Aidan Crean

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