Opinion on the deadlock in the peace process
as the 30 June deadline approaches
IT IS high time that the politicians who endorsed the Stormont deal began to pull resolutely in the same direction. This means addressing the issues of decommissioning and the establishment of a Stormont executive as a matter of urgency. Mr Adams, in his article today, quite correctly stresses that the Good Friday agreement was a political compromise, which did not represent victory or defeat for any section of the community. We remain within touching distance of an outcome which will implement all aspects of that historic settlement and move us all into a new era.
THE APPROACH of the deadline only seems to be encouraging a hardening of positions. Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, says he is prepared to compromise but repeats his usual denial of any link with the IRA. There is not the slightest sign of IRA preparedness to hand over the weaponry unionists demand. David Trimble, the leader of the Ulster Unionists, who a few weeks ago appeared to flirt with the idea of allowing Sinn Fein into the government before decommissioning, has hardened his position and implied that Tony Blair should sack Mo Mowlam. With the collapse of the agreement looming, the political parties are now positioning themselves. The key question is whether the Blair government would then dissolve the Sormont assembly, and go back to running Northern Ireland directly from London.
IF AGREEMENT cannot be reached in a week's time, the chances of a breakthrough look remote. The tensions accompanying tomorrow's anti-Agreement Long March can only add to the difficulties. Mr Blair will employ all his political skills, together with Mr Ahern and President Clinton, but he already knows that unless there is a basis of trust, still absent after 14 months, even the best possible arrangements, which these are, will fail. The deadline may pass, but the process continues.
The Irish Times
SINN FeIN says Trimble might be surprised about how willing it might be to effect a compromise within the framework of the agreement. There is perhaps more understanding for his position than even Trimble himself might guess. If that proves impossible, however, it will not be giving up on the process, merely shifting to a different lane and seeking to get the two governments committed to implementing all other aspects of the agreement.
THERE WILL be no executive unless Gerry Adams can deliver a credible commitment on disarmament. The minimum required of him is a satisfactory answer. It just might break the deadlock. Admittedly, it might not suffice to save Trimble's leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party. But Mr Trimble, too, must consider the consequences of failure. If the agreement goes down, he will have lost. He will have preserved his leadership only at the price of surrender to intransigence. As the last crucial round of talks begins, he should remember that compromise is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Sunday Business Post
THE ONUS is now on David Trimble to cut a deal with the republicans which can underpin the peace and further politics. If this proves impossible, it is time for Blair, whose government subvents the North to the tune of pounds 8bn annually, to assert his power to effect change, demonstrated so clearly in the Balkans in recent weeks. In this he should be given direction and encouragement from Dublin, not ambiguity and hesitancy.
The outsider moves in
ON 23 APRIL we said all that needed to be said about Mr Dyke. "Clear political independence," we wrote, "is not some sufficiency for the DG's job that should be weighed alongside Mr Dyke's much admired skills in media management. It is the necessary condition." Many others came to agree. It is a tragedy for the BBC that their number included only a minority of the men and women who had the responsibility to make the right choice - and have failed to do so.
THE BBC'S finally made an entirely correct decision. Just when we all expected them to appoint one of their usual robotic clones as DG, they go for Greg Dyke. Mr Dyke makes great TV programmes and is as hard as nails when it comes to business. He'll get stuck into the BBC's ponderous management and structure like a gorilla in a banana plantation. His task is formidable. Programme quality's gone down the tubes, red tape is out of control, and consumer confidence is dangerously low. Greg Dyke is the man to sort it out. He's got a broad Essex accent, he irritates William Hague and he has never worked for the Beeb in his life. What better qualifications does a man need to run the BBC?
THE BBC faces massive controversy after appointing Greg Dyke as director- general. However, it does appear that Dyke is the best man for the job. He is full of bright ideas and he has a proven track record in the business. We will judge Dyke by his actions. He has a huge task on his hands to carry on the work started by Sir John Birt. Birt did a good job - despite his many critics. Now Dyke is in the hot seat. Let's hope he can shake up a complacent giant.
The Daily Telegraph
WE WISH the new director-general well. But there is a great deal that needs to be done to correct the BBC's existing failings: improving the quality of television programmes, bolstering the status of radio, reassuring a demoralised staff, dealing with the future of its funding and restructuring an organisation crippled by excessive managerial double-talk. Above all, he must restore vision, authority and the pursuit of excellence to the corporation. That is an enormous task, yet, however, unfair doubts about him may be, Mr Dyke will be compelled to spend much of his time reassuring others that his appointment was not one further example of cronyism in public life.
GREG DYKE is a man of exceptional talent and dynamism, head and shoulders above most of the other candidates in a generally lacklustre field. Whatever his undoubted merits, many will see his appointment as another victory for Tony's cronies. There is the danger. If the BBC does not have total editorial independence and political integrity, it has nothing. Any charges of bias will be all the more difficult to rebut, however even-handed Mr Dyke tries to be. With this otherwise excellent appointment, the BBC may find that its reputation for robust independence becomes much harder to preserve.
SOME ENGAGEMENTS, even if well known, are disqualifications for certain jobs, and this is such a case. Knowing about Mr Dyke's entanglement in some ways makes the compromising worse. It says quite blatantly that the BBC no longer sets a high value on perceptions about its single most precious asset, the impeccable detachment that makes its truth-telling renowned throughout the world. This quality is a delicate flower, constantly being swiped at by the same politicians who were so quick to start arguing over the merits of a Labour man at the top. And BBC editors and reporters, like all their colleagues everywhere in the media, often fall short of preserving that fragile plant. But they will now have their task made much harder, thanks to a piece of double-think that rather epitomises the New Labour age. (Hugo Young)
GREG DYKE'S appointment as director-general of the BBC is good news. Good news for the BBC and good news for the idea of public service itself. Mr Dyke was clearly the best candidate for the job. The BBC governors were right to stand up to Mr Hague's disgraceful slurs on Mr Dyke. Political involvement ought to be encouraged, not lambasted, as Michael Portillo has pointed out. Grown-ups understand that one can have strong political views but that these can and should be left at the door when it comes to doing a job. Greg Dyke is a grown-up - unlike Mr Hague, it seems, who greeted Mt Dyke's appointment with yet more innuendo.
Response to the controversial appointment of Greg Dyke
as the new Director-General of the corporation
Views on the Wimbledon match in which the women's number one
seed was knocked out by Jelena Dokic, an unknown from Australia
THERE WERE no tantrums and no tears from Martina Hingis, just a look of sheer numbness after finding herself on the receiving end of one of the great shocks in Wimbledon history. Jelena Dokic had not so much beaten the world No1 as utterly destroyed her. Hingis did not surrender; rather she was battered into submission by a girl who hit the ball harder, more accurately and more fearlessly. (Ian Chadband )
The Daily Telegraph
GIVEN THE way Hingis has been brought up, the surprise is not so much that she offers glimpses of a little-madam persona, as that she is as normal as she is. When you start playing tennis at two, it's odd when you look up to see a grown-up in the high chair, and even odder for the umpire to look down from the high chair and see someone taking changeover drinks from a bottle with a teat on it. (Martin Johnson)
A SPLIT with her mother and the concerted efforts of a determined young Australian had a devastating effect on the suddenly fragile Hingis psyche. Instead of arguing every call and fighting for every point, she appeared simply to fold. It was almost as if, faced with a hostile world, the 18- year-old decided to retreat rather than stand and face the onslaught. (John Greechan)
HINGIS IS traumatised: but so are all adolescents at some time. She is about to take four or five weeks off: she'll be back. Moral: a millionaire teenage superstar is still a teenager. Second moral: most teenagers reach the age of 20, stepping off the tightrope, some with reluctance, some with stumbling relief, others with grace, style and conviction.(Simon Barnes)
JELENA WON an incredible 10 games on the trot, allowing the previously unsinkable Miss Hingis just two break points and making a total monkey out of a player most of her contemporaries considered beyond the degradation of a humiliation like this. (Steven Howard)
LIBERATION OF KOSOVO
Comment on the situation in the Balkans following Serbian withdrawal from Kosovo
THE WEEK started with Kosovars lavishing praise on Nato. That honeymoon can't last as Nato troops try to separate KLA members from their ordnance and stand between Albanians and their inclination for retribution. To keep the peace, Nato has to patrol both sides of the street - a much tougher, more dangerous job than high-altitude, low-casualty assault on one side.
THE DEPARTURE of the last Serb soldier of an army defeated without having really fought, justifies a strategy based solely on air attacks. Another step has been taken in the process of re-establishing peace in Yugoslavia, without our really knowing which road the international community intends to take now. Does it know itself? Can it realistically impose any directions without marking out the terrain?
SUPPORT FOR the Opposition and democratic neighbouring countries of Serbia should not be lacking. Suddenly everyone wants to help. In fact, all economic aid is worthless without a democratic fundament. And whoever wants to get rid of Slobodan Milosevic must now strengthen his opposition. They are in bitter need of it.
ANGER AT the bombardment is blinding Serbs to the crimes carried out by their government, in their name, against the Kosovars. The war is over but peace will be a long time coming to Serbia and all its people.
Opinion on the Government's decision to reject recommendations to allow cell cloning
The Financial Times
THE GOVERNMENT was feeble and shortsighted in rejecting expert advice to relax the rules against cloning human cells. The proposal was made in a report by two official bodies in December. Despite the claims of some vocal populists and pressure groups, this limited move would be far removed from the cloning of armies of identical humans, even if that were feasible. One day human organs might be grown from patients' cells. Would the benefits outweigh the hazards? Without research we should never know. This is an issue on which ministers should show discrimination and balance. Instead, they ran for cover.
IT IS rare that governments change their minds and reject the advice of scientists in order to allay public disquiet on a moral issue. So it is reassuring that Tessa Jowell announced that human cloning will not, for the moment, be permitted in British laboratories. Now the onus is on the cloners to prove their case. Potential benefits need to be weighed against actual evils. This nation of somnambulists needs to wake up to the full implications of human cloning. The path down which we have been sleepwalking could lead to a hideous perversion of life itself.
THE SACREDNESS of human life, on which any decent social order depends, can be maintained only by drawing limits round what is permissible, scientifically, medically and politically. If we care about the sort of world in which our children and their children will live, we must encourage the Government to stiffen its resolve and to ban cloning outright. (Anthony O'Hear)
Stories from around the world
PAKISTAN'S CRICKET World Cup squad returned home to face hundreds of angry fans who pelted them with rotten eggs at the heavily guarded Karachi airport, witnesses said. "Shame, shame. We do not want gamblers and traitors but want real players," fans shouted as nine of the team arrived at the airport from London after their humiliating defeat by Australia in the World Cup final. Vice captain Moin Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Waqar Younis, Yousuf Youhana, Mushtaq Ahmed, Ijaz Ahmed, Azhar Mahmood, Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi and manager Zafar Altaf were left to face the music. Shahid escaped injury when he jumped into a speeding car to avoid the furious fans.
THE NUMBER of compulsive gamblers in Denmark has risen by at least 50 per cent in the past six months. Ringgaarden, the country's only centre for compulsive gamblers, is receiving 12 written requests for treatment per week. This is partly because of the fact that the number of gaming opportunities in increasing all the time and because it is now more or less possible to play 24 hours a day. Experts estimate that there are about 50,000 compulsive gamblers.
Quotes of the Week
THE VIEWS OF THE WORLD
South China Morning Post