The phrase “final push” deserves to be set off in quotation marks. For as any one knows who has followed the torturous path of the peace process, words long ago lost their meaning when it came to describing the course of events. Remember a few weeks back, when, according to Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, the most important meeting in the Anglo-Irish affairs in the last 100 years took place? And what was the result of this earth-shaking event? Another meeting scheduled for this week. So it goes.
Meanwhile, the militant republican alternative to Sinn Fein’s peace strategy made its presence known in Enniskillen on Monday with a small bomb blast at the rear of the town hall, against an entranceway that nobody uses. Though it injured six police officers — none seriously — the futility of the act is unmistakable. A few weeks earlier, dissident republicans left an incendiary device in a garbage bin behind a Tesco supermarket near Armagh. Only people who are seriously mentally dysfunctional can possibly imagine that this will result in a united Ireland.
Whatever the outcome of tomorrow’s meeting between Ahern and Blair, these pathetic, though potentially fatal, gestures are a reminder of why the peace process is necessary. Force has failed to resolve the Northern Ireland conflict — that has been clear for a long time to any one not blinded by ideological blinkers. All sides share the responsibility to take the logical next step, and make sure that having abandoned violence, the trappings of violence must be abandoned also.