Letter: Ulster's dilemma
Tuesday 06 April 1999
The Downing Street Declaration of December 1993 said that "the achievement of peace must involve a permanent end to the use of and support for paramilitary violence" and that in those circumstances "democratically mandated parties which establish a commitment to exclusively peaceful means" would be "free to participate fully in democratic politics and to join in dialogue in due course between the Governments and the political parties on the way ahead".
In the Dail, Dick Spring, then Irish foreign minister, said: "Questions were raised on how to determine a permanent cessation of violence. We are talking about the handing up of arms and are insisting that it would not be simply a temporary cessation of violence to see what the political process offers. There can be no equivocation in relation to the determination of both Governments in that regard." Sir Patrick made a similar statement.
The Irish government's position changed after the first IRA ceasefire of 31 August 1994. In December, the Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, said that it was not a sensible precondition to require the IRA to hand in weapons before multilateral talks began. On 1 March 1995, Gerry Adams said that decommissioning would happen at the end of the negotiations, not the beginning. The British were also under pressure from the Americans.
The conditions set out in Sir Patrick's speech in Washington on 7 March were "a willingness in principle to disarm progressively", an agreement on the method of decommissioning, and a start to the process as a "tangible confidence-building measure". Sir Patrick wanted Sinn Fein to meet those conditions before entering negotiations. Is it unreasonable, four years later, to expect them to be met before Sinn Fein can enter the Executive?
Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigourfilm
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
- 2 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 5 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
War is war: Why I stand with Israel