Whatever was rising this Easter, it was not hopes for a way out of the current jam in Northern Ireland.
The message coming from Sinn Fein was consistent and futile. Consistent in that every party speaker who opened his or her mouth delivered the same line — but in Europe’s last Bolshevik-style party that should not be surprising. Futile in that while they demanded a course of action, they did so without suggesting as to how it could be effected.
The line was simple. It was for the British government to restore the suspended institutions of local government in Northern Ireland — and right away. Sinn Fein pasted the blame thick and fast on the British and the Unionists for undermining Irish democracy and issued ominous warnings about "the rejectionists" of the peace process filling the political vacuum with their bombs and bullets. (In other words, doing what the IRA did for more than 25 years.)
Of course, the IRA no longer uses it bombs and bullets for that purpose, and everyone must welcome the change. It would be even more welcome if Sinn Fein would also accept some responsibility for the fact that there is a problem. Criticizing the British government and the Unionists is not enough — however much they may indeed deserve it. It is the easy way out.
Nowhere did we hear in those repetitive Sinn Fein speeches as how the local government can be resurrected as long as the problem of arms decommissioning remains. Sinn Fein is not so naive as to believe that Britain would be able to install Unionist leader David Trimble to where he was before Feb. 11 without some move from the republican movement to deal with this vexed and festering issue that continues to frustrate hopes for progress in the North.
Grownups take responsibility for their actions — it is a sign of maturity. The IRA must accept that it has a responsibility to do more than lament the fall of democratic institutions in the North and recognize that the republican movement played a part in that debacle.
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Yes, it was important for the IRA to emphasize in its Easter statement that it remains committed to finding a peaceful solution to the historical problems in Ireland. As long as that is so, then there is a real hope that the current impasse will be broken. But the republican movement must go a little further than that. If it is so committed to peace and is prepared — as one Sinn Fein spokesman put it — to let its guns "rust in peace," then why not make the implication an explication? If the guns are going to rust in peace surely, that means the war is over as far as the IRA is concerned.
Why not say it publicly? After all, in the North, words can save lives.