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Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 13:32 GMT
Did the Ulster Unionists make the right decision?
The Ulster Unionist ruling council has voted to impose sanctions on Sinn Fein members in Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
It wants to bar Sinn Fein ministers from meetings of the north-south ministerial council until the IRA restarts talks with the body overseeing the removal of paramilitary weapons.
It is a move which has infuriated both nationalists and republicans. What do you think? Have Ulster Unionists made the right choice, or will their decision only make things worse for the peace process?
Daniel Lewis, England
Trimble and co have shown that the Assembly and Executive can work and work to the advantage of all. The fact that SF does not want to be excluded from the action is positive and shows the extent of their agreement with it. Everything is in place for good and effective government. Now let's walk this new road together, without any prejudice and without any baggage from the past. Dispose of the arms and people will be even more accommodating than they have been. It is in everyone's interests. This is the new Millennium we all want and deserve.
K Sloane, Ireland
Once again we see a Unionist agenda. They believe that they are the only ones who have made any sacrifices and they never did any wrong during the last 30 years. When we have a truly neutral police force which both communities can put its trust in, then we will see the arms relegated to history, dumped and destroyed. Do the Unionists want this, if yes, support the changes to the RUC recommended.
I heartily agree with Michael's comments listed earlier. The whole process cannot succeed without reconciliation between the two peoples. At the moment each political party is motivated by unseen, unflinching motives. These may be seen as admirable political traits but they are unhelpful in helping to form lasting, meaningful peace. The process will never advance beyond a certain point unless people surrender their pride.
I feel that David Trimble has made the correct decision about Sinn Fein. The 'Guns No Government' statement should be upheld. I do feel however that David Trimble also has to look closer to home and make loyalist paramilitaries also decommission their weapons.
Only by taking the inclusive approach espoused by the Good Friday Agreement can he stand any chance of doing this. To do otherwise and follow the hard line as he us currently doing is madness and surely paints a bleak picture for the future long term political and cultural aspirations of his party and the people they represent.
While the Irish government, Sinn Fein/IRA and the SDLP are busy getting legal advice as to whether or not Mr. Trimble has the right to select which ministers go to the north-south council, perhaps they could check with their lawyers as to the legality of a political party haviing a private army holding huge amounts of killing equipment.
It's all that anyone can do to stop themselves from laughing out loud when they hear Northern Irish politicians, trembling with moral indignation, castigate their opponents. And those fingers that they shake at each other may not have pulled any triggers but God knows how many their rhetoric has. If only they were as intransigent in their insistence upon peace as they were in their condemnation of violence then we might see some progress. No as they each stand on their molehills it's not possible to determine that any have the moral high ground.
David Trimble has dug himself a hole, and is danger of burying not only himself but also the peace process. He needs
to lead his party, not try constantly to appease the Donaldsons of this world.
That means getting out and selling the GFA, including Patten, as the best hope for a peaceful and equitable future.
All the Unionists are asking for is a genuine commitment to democracy and the rule of law. What problem does anybody have with this?
Alex Swanson, UK
This is an entirely right and proper decision. We have seen all too often that the Republicans have been the only ones benefiting from this Peace Process through the erosion of the British identity of Northern Ireland. This is the price which we are being asked to pay for peace, however we are not getting anything in return.
N. Evans, UK
The UUC should have forced Trimble to come out of the Executive altogether. The party remains mired in a policy of appeasement and surrender.
There was a 'deafening silence' from the Unionists during the loyalist feud yet IRA guns which remain inactive and disused seem to be the Unionist stumbling block to peace. The real problem for Unionists is that they do not want to share power or have equality in Northern Ireland and this is their exit strategy.
Let the Executive fall but implement the Patten report in full.
George H. Boyle, Northern Ireland
I am so sick of the Irish hate the British, the British hate Irish legacy. When will we just quit as all it has ever done for both sides is bring grief and sorrow? I get as angry over terrorist atrocities as anyone on these islands, but how can they build a future when one side is not even allowed to participate???
The stupid thing is that most of this hatred is inherited and not earned.
Hardly a week goes past and we find the "Good Friday Agreement" under threat. The Unionists make concessions and the thing rolls on. And still we have had nothing like a concession from the Nationalists. They might have inspectors confirming that their arms dumps are secure, but they still find the weapons to shoot people as part of their "housekeeping".
There is not a politician in Ireland capable of re-selling the agreement to the public, so the only alternative we have for peace is for the Unionists keep on conceding over and over again.
The only right thing that the Unionists can do is to dissolve themselves.
The same could be recommended to Sinn Fein.
David Kemp, UK
The Ulster Unionist Council's decision is too little, too late. The electorate of Northern Ireland can see that they have sat down in government with armed terrorists and will not forget that in a hurry. The decision by David Trimble to exclude SF ministers from North-South meetings is meaningless to a large extent. He should have moved immediately to have them removed from the Executive.
If the IRA decommissioned every weapon tomorrow morning, it would still not be enough for the Unionists. They are simply not interested in sharing power with nationalists and I do not see many on that side with the vision to move towards a pluralist society with equality for all. Donaldson and Trimble are now singing from the same hymnsheet. They should understand that you cannot give ultimatums in such a delicate process. Would the Unionists be keen to give up their so-called "legally" held weapons as part of the decommissioning process?
Like the Balkans and South Africa, Northern Ireland's winners will be the leaders who grasp the opportunities of the European and Global economies in redressing the terrible social wounds of the past.
Trimble owes it to his people to show them how they can share the future, instead of blaming an enemy which understands the big picture so much better.
Nobody seems to be requiring the Loyalist paramilitaries to disarm or put their armaments out of action. Why not? They are the only ones who are using guns in the current feud.
In my opinion, adding pre-conditions at such a delicate stage of the peace process is unhelpful, if not highly dangerous. I doubt whether Mr Trimble would have proceeded with this call if his position within his party had been more secure. To speak of ending appeasement of terrorists, or adopting a harder line against them, is completely counterproductive. Both because previous measures in this direction, like internment, have only served to swell terrorists ranks due to public sympathy and also because this conflict will only be resolved through agreement of the parties involved, not through any one party trying to impose their will on the others.
Are the Unionists seriously suggesting that a return to the situation before the Good Friday Agreement is preferable to sitting in government with Sinn Fein while the IRA still holds weapons? Surely, the important thing is that there is now relative peace in Northern Ireland. The violence which still exists there can now be seen by everyone to have more to do with gangsters than with political idealists. This at least means that it will be tackled as it should be, rather than being excused by some as political protest.
Alec O'Donnell, NZ
The Unionists were only being reasonable in asking for more commitment from nationalists on decommissioning. From this side of the Atlantic, it seems that the Unionists have made tangible concessions throughout this process without very much from Sinn Fein/IRA in return.
I think the Unionists have made the right choice. It sounds like the IRA have simply shown a relative few outdated, minor weapons, whilst hiding the many more modern and effective ones. Gerry Adams was right - 'they haven't gone away', and of course many 'provos' are now free to train and advise a new generation of republican terrorists.
On balance, for once, I'm inclined to favour the Unionists on this one.
Yes, their stance does make the Peace Process harder. However, the IRA's stance makes the Unionists' position (and hence the Peace Process) almost impossible.
And the Loyalist paramilitaries aren't helping either.
Chris Klein, UK
If Trimble wants to see Provisional IRA decommissioning then he should push for the full implementation of the Patten report. Only when there is a police force that represents both communities can the Nationalist community feel safe with IRA decommissioning.
30 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Premiers discuss NI sanctions rift
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