AND SO it goes on. The politicians continue to tell us what they won't do and what the other side should do and the public becomes more and more disillusioned. Political figures are still trading blows, this time about the latest IRA statement and the perceived implications for the peace process. Politicians should be attempting to find a way forward. Before all faith in the political process here is lost, our politicians need to come up with more and more ideas to lift public morale. They are sick of hearing why progress is not possible. They deserve to hear that the hopes espoused at the signing of the Good Friday agreement are to be realised.
Dublin and Belfast
THE MOOD among the wider republican community is one of anger and frustration - not so much at yet another "No" from the Unionists but at the fact that the British Government has gone so far to indulge them. Trimble has followed the rejectionists in his party in the retreat from the agreement he made last year. They have been allowed to turn the peace process into a decommissioning process. The British Government must acknowledge its overriding responsibility and assert its authority in this situation. It has to tell the Unionists that they will no longer be allowed to determine the future of relationships between the people of Ireland and the people of Britain.
THE LEADING politicians of the mainstream parties must make their peace and pull together or the aim of forming a coherent executive, including Sinn Fein and the DUP, will be unobtainable. As everyone takes a well- earned break from politics, the future of the Good Friday agreement - and, accordingly, much private and public investment - still hangs in the balance.
The IRA has not gone away, no more than the loyalist paramilitaries, but even they must acknowledge that the public mood is still firmly for peace, however long it takes to build.
IN RETURN for a timetable on disarmament, Sinn Fein are entitled to insist that Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble meets his own commitments under the Good Friday agreement. All this really should have happened in the Stormont talks. When it did not happen, the Irish and British governments wisely forswore dangerous innovations. They called in aid from the admirable Senator George Mitchell to review or revive the peace process on the lines agreed last year. Trust is rare in Northern Ireland: Sinn Fein's distrust of the two governments borders on the comical. But if anyone is trusted, it is Mr Mitchell; and if anyone can persuade the Ulster Unionist Party and Sinn Fein to do what they should have done long ago, it is he.
IT WOULD appear that both governments - and Senator Mitchell who refused to comment on it yesterday - see a potential for something positive, rather than entirely negative, in the IRA statement's context. It is worth noting that on three, if not four, occasions in just over a year, the IRA has issued statements categorically ruling out decommissioning in any circumstances. An IRA statement published in An Phoblacht in April 1998 and repeated the following August made it clear that "there will be no decommissioning by the IRA".
By its own established precedents, the latest IRA statement does not withdraw Sinn Fein's commitment to the governments to voluntarily decommission its arms in the event of the formation of the Executive. This will be one of the first issues which Senator Mitchell will have to test in the autumn.Reuse content