Category: Archive

Dems platform more general than specific

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon and Susan Falvella-Garraty

The Democratic Party platform being unveiled at the party’s convention in Los Angeles this week covers Ireland — but in a noticeably measured way.

In contrast to the GOP platform statement, which focused on specific issues of concern to Irish Americans, the Democratic version takes a more general approach to the quest for a lasting settlement on the island.

It also resists the obvious temptation to crow over the relative success of the peace process to date.

The statement, roughly half the length of the Republican equivalent, makes no mention of President Clinton by name, or his personal peace efforts in the North. In terms of content, it is a scaled down version of platform statements in both 1996 and 1992, the year Clinton was first elected.

The statement reads: "In Northern Ireland, we helped facilitate multi-party talks and played an instrumental role in brokering the historic Good Friday Accord, which has greatly enhanced the prospect for peace.

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"We will continue to work toward implementation of the Accord and provide continued political and economic support for the new institutions involving Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.

"Our goal is not merely the laying down of arms, but the joining together of hands in a new political relationship that enables former rivals to govern and thrive together."

The GOP Platform statement played up specific issues such as the Patten Commission on the RUC, the cases of the deportees, fair employment in the North and a future U.S. peace envoy.

The Democratic statement does not focus on these issues by name. Indeed, it plays down the party’s record on peace in Ireland to the point of it being merely "instrumental" in the brokering of the GFA.

Given President Clinton’s particular efforts over the last eight years, a more rousing adjective would have been immune to even the most zealous of GOP critics.

Clinton, of course, will not be carrying through the pledges in this year’s platform, general as they are. That task will fall to Vice President Al Gore and his ticket partner, Sen. Joe Lieberman, should they be elected to office in November.

Gore has a longstanding record of interest in securing Irish peace going back to his first appearance at an Irish American presidential forum in 1988. Lieberman, as a U.S. Senator, has been rated as an "Active Participant" with regard to Ireland by the San Francisco-based congressional monitoring group, Northern Ireland Alert.

Last year, Lieberman backed a successful 74-24 Senate endorsement of House Resolution 3427, a measure which prohibits funding for exchange programs that allow RUC officers to receive special training at FBI headquarters in Quantico, Va.

Meanwhile, the on-off-on-off final Clinton presidential visit to Ireland would appear to be on again.

A White House official told the Echo this week that the president was now looking forward to "October in Dublin."

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