“Trust is the central issue here,” she said in a meeting with reporters before flying to Wilmington, Del., to receive an honorary degree from the University of Delaware.
McAleese’s uncharacteristically firm request for a meeting with the media to discuss her concerns over the probable suspension of Stormont and the crisis in the North is a marker of how grave the situation has become. She said all sides in the current crisis need to offer compromise and “space” in order to maintain the progress previously achieved.
“Those who believe in peace and those who are working for peace have got to recommit and to those who distrust that peaceful means work,” she said. “They have to deliver the evidence to the skeptics.”
When asked if that was a direct appeal to the IRA to offer more on decommissioning, she responded, “To those who are not yet convinced with democratic dialogue, the onus is on those who do believe to make sure [peace] is delivered.”
She said her feelings were inspired not just as president of Ireland but also as someone who had grown up in the North.
“I have found the most fragile part of the process is trust,” she said, “and what’s been damaged is trust.”
She said that anyone who vows to love peace and democracy can not walk away from the institutions that have functioned well since the enacting of the Good Friday accord four years ago.
“People are confident that this crisis is manageable,” she said. “The peace processes is robust; there’s almost an invincibility about the process.”
On Thursday evening, McAleese, accompanied by her husband, addressed the Irish Chamber of Commerce in the United States at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.