Category: Archive

Money no obstacle in search for peace

February 15, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

If there is one thing clear about the current effort to forge a peace settlement in Northern Ireland, it is this: money is no problem. If this is the best hope for peace in a generation, then it comes at an opportune time, amid economic boom and bloom on both sides of the Irish Sea, and both sides of the Atlantic. Only last week, Britain announced it will pump _315 million into Northern Ireland. A major U.S. financial boost is also widely expected.

Of all the coverage of the Good Friday peace agreement, there has been virtually nothing on the actual financial cost of implementing the accord, and the array of new bureaucratic layers it will establish. The probable reason for this omission is that nobody seems to know what the cost will be.

An Irish government spokesperson told the Echo that there can be no cost estimates until the mandate for the agreement is given to the governments by the people in the forthcoming referenda on May 22.

But while peace – lives saved and injuries prevented – is the elusive goal worthy of any expenditure, among the most immediate beneficiaries of the pursuit of peace will be the cumbersome machinery of government itself: the civil service, the bureaucracy, the secretariats.

For every new body established under the agreement, a back-up secretarial and support staff will be required. The cost of all this can be imagined when one considers that just six departments of the government of the Republic of Ireland spent about $500,000 since last summer in public relations efforts alone, in contracts to media consultants and spin doctors.

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If all the measures in the agreement are to be implemented, it will result in the creation of a completely new governmental apparatus for Northern Ireland. An idea of the magnitude of that bureaucratic task can be gauged from fact that among the bodies to be established under the agreement are:

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