Category: Archive

Ahern: politics, violence don’t mix

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Speaking Sunday at the Fianna Fail annual commemoration of the 1916 Rising at Arbour Hill, Bertie Ahern said he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair had dedicated themselves to recreating trust in Northern Ireland but that there could be no more “incremental” implementation of the Good Friday agreement and there could be no “cherry picking.”
Dublin and London are awaiting clarification of a proposed statement from the IRA in response to unpublished proposals from both governments designed to restore the North’s power-sharing government.
“Prime Minister Blair and I remain ready to publish these proposals once we are satisfied that the responses to them will contain sufficient clarity to restore the necessary confidence in the [peace] process,” Ahern said. “Unless our proposals, together with the responses they engender, produce the right sort of confidence-building impact, there is little point in publishing them.”
Ahern said a core element of the Good Friday agreement was “the completion of the transition to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.”
“Making politics work would make the struggle redundant,” he said, adding that the transition to democracy could not remain indefinitely at some midway point.
“If it does,” he said, “there will inevitably be a collision with democratic politics.”
Ahern said he hoped those “most directly in a position to move things forward definitively” would reflect very carefully on what was at stake — the opportunities that success would bring and the uncertainty if matters were left unresolved.
“Even if left unresolved now, sooner or later they will have to be addressed because a failure to do so is preventing us moving on and allowing normal politics to function,” he said. “Nobody gains from this.”
As Ahern delivered his address, Minister of State at Foreign Affairs Dick Roche accused Sinn Fein of “brinkmanship of an unacceptable degree.”
“I am hugely disappointed at the unwillingness of Sinn Fein to go that extra inch,” Roche told RTE. “I really cannot understand at this day and age why a party that wants to participate in democratic politics can’t be clear on these issues,” Roche said.
Meanwhile, the Sinn Fein leader in the Dail, Caoimhghin O Caolain, speaking at the party’s 1916 Commemoration in Dublin, said the IRA had taken courageous decisions that too often had been taken for granted.
“Republicans have always said that if a viable path of struggle for Irish freedom, not involving armed action, became available then they were obliged to employ that route,” O Caolain said. “They have been true to their word.”
He said it must be recognized that a major factor in the political equation of the peace process now was the concern of the Fianna Fail/PD government at the growth of Sinn Fein.
“That is understandable and as political parties they have every right to fight their corner,” he said. “But we say to them that they must act firstly as an Irish government elected to represent all citizens on this island. They must not let their party political role cloud their thinking in the peace process.”

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