Editorial 24.1.04

As the peace process hurtles towards its most dangerous crisis since the IRA destruction of Canary Wharf in February 1996, all eyes are on Bertie Ahern’s government and their forthcoming meeting with the DUP.

Nationalists, buoyed by the Irish Government’s pre-eminent position in the European Community, are hoping for an uncompromising message for the Paisleyite party from the Fianna Fáil Taoiseach and his no-nonsense Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen.

But be warned: this is a government which hasn’t broken any records in defence of Irish national interests. Not only has it opposed calls for a public enquiry into the MI5-sponsored loyalist bombings of Monaghan and Dublin but it also is the only sovereign government in Europe which has agreed NOT to categorise its first official language as an official working language of the European Union.

Add to that the unhelpful presence of Justice Minister Michael McDowell and there is in fact real reason for concern that the future of the peace process now lies in Dublin’s hands.

All is not lost, however, if Bertie Ahern decides to approach the upcoming review of the Good Friday Agreement with an unwavering determination to see the nationalist nightmare ended.

To do so, he must face down the British Prime Minister’s insatiable demands for more acrobatics from an IRA which jumped through one hoop too many in October last only to find itself with no return for its momentous act of decommissioning. But the Irish Government must also make it clear to the DUP that there’s no going back to 1969 or 1690 for Northern nationalists.

While Mr Ahern might like to think of the DUP as normal political rivals ready for the cut and thrust of negotiations, nationalists in the Six Counties realise that they are nothing less than wolves in wolves’ clothing.

For the Paisleyites, allocating housing and jobs on merit was a concession too far for those who worship in the Catholic Church.

And their every action since 1969, including whipping up support for the murderous campaigns of the loyalist paramilitaries, has been designed to drive nationalists back into the dole queues, the internment camps and the ghettos.

The DUP are the political dinosaurs of Europe. Outside of the fascist fringes of Serbia or Saudia Arabia their brand of fanatical fundamentalism, their politics are abhorred.

They want to make the North their very own Jurassic Park....complete with Bertie as live bait.

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