|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point: Debates: European|
Friday, 28 April, 2000, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Northern Ireland: is this as good as it gets?
Two years on from the 1998 Good Friday agreement, the peace process in Northern Ireland remains deadlocked.
The planned power-sharing administration has yet to materialise, the IRA's still refusing to decomission weapons outright, and the main Unionist party is in turmoil.
There's little prospect of the IRA handing in its weapons by the agreed deadline of the 22nd of May. Each side blames the other for lack of progress. Yet the peace appears to be holding - with little or no political violence.
Our Europewide debate asks - is this as good as it's going to get for Northern Ireland? Is the most it can hope for a sort of peace without a final agreement or power-sharing administration?
Joining Laurence Zavriew for this week's Europewide debate is, from Dublin, Martin Alioth of the Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung and from Belfast, the Economist's correspondent Fionnula O'Connor:
Marc Wathen, Hong Kong, China
Only when the next generation of Irish politicians who have not taken part in murder and bombings take charge
will things change. Only then will the blind bigotry that exists on both sides subside and those making the decisions will
start to consider the most peaceful and beneficial course for the region. Bigots, killers and their captains can not reach
balanced, just and positive decisions.
The way to get the peace process sorted is for Britain to get out and for the unionists to stop living in the 17th century and join the 21st century like everyone else!
Kevin Hogan, England
What Agreement? Do you mean that Scotch Mist invented by a bunch of accolade-seeking politicians that was long on rhetoric and short of intelligent content? No business would have entered into commercial activity based on anything so transparently worthless!
The only solution is to give Northern Ireland FULL independence. Let them sort it out amongst themselves.
A united Ireland would not create peace, it would be the unionists/loyalists turn to be terrorists! Maybe if Americans realised how oppressed the Irish people are by their state government which is dictated by the Catholic church, they would then realise why the Northern Ireland would rather be with Britain!
Has anyone ever heard Gerry Adams ever utter the two words Northern and Ireland together? In two years the majority of voters in the six counties will be catholic!
Tim Abernethy, England
But we disagreed on other issues. I believe that the terrorists on both sides should decommision - illegally held guns are just that - illegal. He argued that the republicans needed to protect themselves - against whom? Too many innocent lives have been lost in the bombing campaigns. I feel that the Orange Order has the right to march - but should not march in Republican areas - tradition or not. He said the Orange Order should be disbanded completely.
Rosemary Wyatt-Millington, UK
What Declan Doyle and so many others refer to as the unionist veto, is known in most other contexts as majority rule. It makes more sense to suggest that the way out of this impasse is to get rid of the murderers' veto - the murderers being a small minority of the population.
It is only people of goodwill that can solve this problem. Where the hell are they?
We cannot expect all the wounds and pain to heal in such a short period of time. There is still resentment of England because of her ownership in the former colonies. Although there has been peace in these countries for years resentment and hatred still remains. If there is to be any progress then there needs to be a change in the attitudes of both sides. The decommissioning must start, the Orange Order and such other bigoted organisations must go. The RUC should become a body that represents the whole community. Only after this starts can there truly be a change in Northern Ireland
The intransigence of both sides has produced a stalemate. The people have been forgotten in a rush to appease the terrorists. This is not just about the IRA and the UUP; this agreement was voted on, it included specifics on devolution and decommissioning and is not being implemented. It looks like it will bite the dust. The question is 'where to next'?
The north of Ireland had a working democracy that could have made it a model for other nations in conflict resolution. What the British government did, in tearing down those working institutions, at the threat of one man's resignation, shows that the British government are not interested in making things better. They must leave Ireland, yet they must leave her in peace.
What's with Unionists and their inability to keep their word? The world is changing around them, it's time to make their best deal or have it made for them.
The stumbling block seems to be over the disarmament problem. If the arms are not being used lets not worry about them. It would be a strange politician to return to violence.
I don't think more violence should be tolerated by the people of N. Ireland.
It is also quite clear that all of the progress which has been made in Northern Ireland has been made because of concessions by the British Government. Britain gave up trying to win the war against the IRA after the Bombings in London a few years ago. It is now desperate to find a way to give the IRA what it wants without loosing face. The IRA knows this full well and so has absolutely no intention of making any concessions.
John W, Holland
I think that certain parties only entered into talks
to get their people out of jail. They had no intention of seeing
peace come to Northern Ireland. The IRA have been dealing in bad faith, they always have been and always will.
A number of related points on Northern Ireland:
The naysayers of unionism know this very well and are thirsting to return to the siege/security state of the past. They would rather be the masters of a war zone than share power with what they see as their inferiors. Adams and McGuinness have done as much as possible, the way out of this impasse is to kill off the Unionist veto.
Declan Doyle, Ireland
I'm afraid so, unless the Unionist Party is prepared to unconditionally shoulder blame, these present peace talks will grind to yet another halt, and may even collapse
The IRA refuses to accept a peace settlement that requires the surrender of illegally held weapons. Why on earth then should anyone expect the unionists to accept a peace settlement that gives gunmen positions in government, and does not result in the disarming of armed terrorists and does not even result in a declaration that the "war" is over.
Nothing needs to change now, because no-one has any remaining goals worth risking their lives for. Equally, no-one is sufficiently motivated to get to a permanent Peace. Things will stay like this for a while, until someone makes a bad mistake - perhaps some amateur will set another Omagh-style bomb - and then it will all go downhill again. We could have this cycle of long truces followed by outbreaks of violence more or less for ever, in the same way as the Middle East, Sri Lanka, the Caucasus, the Balkans, or Central Africa.
It's all the exact same pattern of human beings sending their sons out to fight the neighbour's sons, until they get good and sick of it, and the survivors come home to raise the next generation of little heroes. And in between battles, we celebrate Easter.
Jon Livesey, USA
The longer the lull in direct hostilities lasts the bigger chances there are that it will convert into de facto peace.
The following symbolic set up has to be remembered:
The marches raised the arms. Ending the marches makes the arms fall. Unionist or nobody else can expect any arms being given up until the marches are completely wiped out first. Sinn Fein needs to see that those arms do not speak.
Under normal circumstances I would say that there is always room for improvement, however these are unusual circumstances. I understand both sides of the exigency. I know why the Irish desire unification, but I do not discern why they have to attack innocent victims.
Al, Republic of Ireland
As a foreigner, living in Ireland, I find Irish people nice - friendly, polite and calm. I always wonder what is the reason the political problem in Northern Ireland has not solved yet. Now I think that the politicians are to blame. They accepted this Agreement - why haven't they implemented it? Maybe some of them are afraid to lose the power they think they have. Apparently they have not learnt the lessons of the past.
Other Talking Points:
Links to other European stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy