SINN FEIN RENOUNCES VIOLENCE
Reactions to Gerry Adams's announcement that the republican terrorist campaign has been brought to an end
IF IT can be established that Sinn Fein is now working in good faith for peace and progress, that objective, far from being an impossible dream, could become an invigorating reality which would change the political landscape forever and vastly increase the chances of a genuine, lasting peace. Unionists must be ready to acknowledge that republicans will be included in a democratic government provided there is a permanent cessation of violence. That is now the imperative if things are to move forward.
THOSE DISRUPTING the peace process are not the "Real IRA" but Sinn Fein tacticians unable to see that the programme of prisoner release could be jeopardised without a gesture from them. The statement by Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, that violence is "a thing of the past, over, done with and gone" was welcome. But it will remain a straw in the wind until backed up by actions as well as words.
The Daily Mail
IT WOULD be churlish not to recognise that yesterday's statement from Gerry Adams is by far the strongest condemnation of violence that he has uttered - and as such a significant step on the road to peace. Words are not enough. Agreed. But they are important nonetheless. And set against his starkly different pronouncements down the years, Adams's latest words seem to signal a remarkable transformation. Who does not welcome that?
OBSERVERS CAN analyse the Sinn Fein president's offering as closely as they like, but its meaning could not be clearer. Mr Adams has already unequivocally condemned the Omagh massacre and he has now rejected all violence in the most direct terms possible. It was striking how quickly and enthusiastically the statement was welcomed by both the London and Dublin governments. David Trimble's response was much more restrained, but that was only to be expected. When the impact of the statement by Mr Adams is taken into consideration, Tuesday can be seen as an excellent day for the entire community.
The Daily Telegraph
SINN FEIN/IRA's real aim is to split the Ulster Unionists by luring David Trimble into a meeting with Mr Adams. Sadly, the signs are that this Government, so ready to capitulate to republican pressure, is determined to be tough on the Unionists. Pressure is growing on the First Minister to accommodate IRA/Sinn Fein without an ounce of Semtex having been surrendered. The republicans are steadily achieving their aims without offering one substantial concession in return.
WHATEVER THE IRA may say, decommissioning forms part of the agreement. And it is not a question of what the IRA call "word games". It is a question of Sinn Fein's commitment to using only peaceful and democratic means to advance their aims. It is a question of making it possible for the Ulster Unionist Party leader, David Trimble, to sit with them in a new Northern executive. On Tuesday, Mr Adams made a major and laudable step in the right direction. We look forward to his next, vital steps towards making peace and tolerance a reality.
The Irish Times
NOT ALL of Mr Trimble's party will be immediately persuaded of the value of Mr Adams's words. Even among Mr Trimble's loyal ranks there are those who insist that there should be actual decommissioning of weapons before Sinn Fein can sit in an executive. Trimble will not be without internal resistance if he seeks to respond affirmatively to Sinn Fein's gesture. Nonetheless, outside of his party ranks he will be under intense pressure to do so. Mr Adams's statement and Mr McGuinness's participation in the decommissioning body gives him at least some of the political space he requires.
SINN FEIN'S apparent acceptance of the end of the war has been mirrored by the militant loyalists, and the appointment of Mr McGuinness to the commission on the removal of terrorist weapons is also welcome, but only if he is prepared to demonstrate a creative commitment to that process. There is a perception that the next move should come from Mr Trimble, but he is in a difficult position.
GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS
Views on the knock-on effects of the market collapses
in Russia, Japan and South-east Asia
A LOT of hard thinking needs to be done about the international financial system - and even more important, about the domestic financial systems of emerging economies. The vulnerability to financial crisis was created not by international speculators and other bogeymen, but by woefully inadequate oversight of domestic finance. But the governments concerned were not the only ones who failed to realise that. They had many willing helpers in screwing things up. There is plenty of blame to go around.
IT IS universally recognised that greed is the destroyer and God is the creator. The US, despite its economic power, should feel vulnerable to the possibility of a recession if its own backyard, Latin America, eventually succumbs to the Asian crisis. Signs are already there in Mexico. If that becomes a reality, Americans who have lost most of this year's gains on the NYSE can blame the new species of robber-barons now plotting the next looting in their currency trading rooms. The final effects will get to them soon enough.
Los Angeles Times
IS THE promise of the market-driven global economy of the Nineties unraveling? Hardly, but the very idea is facing its most severe test. Japan, the world's second-largest economy, poses the biggest problem as the government dawdles in indecision, unwilling to face the shock of cleaning up a banking system festooned with bad debts. The Russian economy is tiny in comparison, but the depth of political uncertainty there is exacerbating fears that a world nuclear power is rudderless, and thus dangerous. Japan is the most startling and troublesome example of a centrally controlled economy out of sync with the open capitalism driving markets today. Russia's more spectacular failure at creating an honest market economy has some there pining for the old days.
The Japan Times
THE INTERNATIONAL economy has never been as weak and unpredictable as it is now, and never before have the two men meeting in Moscow been as powerless to do anything about it. The men now heading the US, Germany or Japan cannot lead the world alone. Traditionally, such leaders have been able to command the world stage and focus attention on an issue in a way that moves world opinion, or at least that of their peers. Today, there is no such presence, and we seem to be paying an increasingly heavy price.
WHATEVER THE preference of individual governments, it has become clear to all that the rules of the game across Asia must be changed in order to keep rapacious speculators at bay and to maintain stability in their economies. This is important, not merely to countries in this region, but to the West, and not merely because Europe and the United States are already feeling the ripple effects of the region's economic decline, but because in recent weeks the fight against these destructive speculators has taken on the proportions of an East-West struggle.
SOME ECONOMISTS argue that the world is already on the brink of recession. Japan leads an almost clean sweep of Asian economies with negative growth, all experiencing the worst conditions for half a century. The Russian economy shows no signs of correcting itself, and Latin America is the latest victim of the global financial contagion that had its origins in Thailand last year. As long as the US keeps its economic head above water, there is hope the world will not slip into recession. But if the Japanese continue to avoid taking the necessary harsh medicine, and the Russians are left to flounder alone, the prospects are not good.
NORTH KOREAN MISSILE TEST
Response to the Communist regime's test firing of
an intercontinental ballistic missile
THE LATEST missile testing attests to the fact that the communist North has continued to improve its missile systems, in defiance of international objections. To discourage the North's missile efforts, the international community must take concerted and substantial steps, since efforts at friendly persuasion and verbal warnings have been exhausted.
THE PROLIFERATION of weapons of mass destruction, has been on the rise since the end of the Cold War. For the international community, it has become more important than ever that immediate action be taken to reverse this unsettling trend. What Japan must first do is co-operate in every way it can to advance international disarmament efforts, particularly those aimed at curtailing the number of weapons and ending their proliferation.
South China Morning Post
NORTH KOREA is developing missiles capable of hitting targets throughout Northeast Asia. And this underscores the necessity of renewing efforts to draw Pyongyang out of its isolation. Sanctions are not achieving that aim. Backing such an unpredictable country into a corner through crippling sanctions is to court danger on a potentially catastrophic scale. However unpalatable it may be to run the risk of appearing to grant concessions, it is necessary for some hard bargaining to be done in earnest.
NORTH KOREA continues to develop missiles and does not hesitate to sell them to other countries for hard currency. Unfortunately, its posture of threatening the proliferation of missiles will not win it the understanding and sympathy of the international community. It is impermissible to wield a sword in one hand and ask for assistance with the other.
New York Times
SOUTH KOREA remains committed to improving relations with the North and sees the missile test as underlining the dangers of keeping North Korea isolated. Keeping the North cut off, the argument goes, would make it even more dependent on revenues from its missile exports. This line of reasoning has its limits. If North Korea seriously wants American recognition and economic co-operation, it cannot continue to stir nuclear and missile fears. The North is destroying its hopes for wider acceptance and assistance.
NEWS AT TEN
Comment on ITV's proposal to shift its main evening news to a different slot
The Evening Standard
THE ITV chiefs' plan to abolish News At Ten, replacing it with an early- evening news broadcast at 6.30, signals a sad and unnecessary dumbing down of the network. If this goes ahead, there will effectively be no proper prime-time news on mainstream commercial television. Independent television chiefs should think very carefully about throwing away this jewel in their crown.
NEWS AT TEN is unique. It is not like BBC news, which aims at a snootier audience. It is not like the 24-hour news services, which overwhelm with coverage. It cannot be lost simply for the sake of running films interrupted only by commercials. ITV's chiefs must think again. The bongs must go on ringing out throughout the land at 10 every weekday night.
IT IS none of Blair's damned business what time ITV chooses to broadcast the news. Nor should it be any concern of the ITC. Politicians like News At Ten where it is, because it falls conveniently for divisions in the Commons and provides them with a prominent platform. So what? ITV's first duty is to its viewers and its shareholders. Viewers do not want movies and dramas interrupted by the news, most of which is nothing of the sort and could be shown at any time. (Richard Littlejohn)
BY SCHEDULING its early evening bulletin to coincide with a slot currently filled by the dreadful regional news programmes produced by both the BBC and the independent television companies, ITN may precipitate further welcome developments.
BRITISH TOURISM IN IBIZA
Opinion on the behaviour of British youth abroad following
the resignation of the Vice-Consul to Ibiza
THERE CAN be no excuse for the excesses of this reckless and often violent bunch of youngsters. They clearly have no respect for themselves, let alone for other people or other nations. But let's not forget who else is at fault here. The holiday companies, whose salacious brochures are filled with smut and innuendoes as well as promises of cheap booze and hints of easy sex. No one involved comes out of this sad and sorry story of Brits abroad with honour, least of all the good name of the British in Europe.
THE MIRROR which Ibiza holds up to modern British popular culture is an accurate, non-distorting one, as can be observed in any British city centre. I am not surprised that Mr Birkett said that he was now ashamed to be British; increasingly, it is a shameful thing to be.
The Birmingham Post
EVIDENCE INDICATES that there is a growing generation who believe that pleasure is paramount and their responsibility to society is minimal. But this is not the first youthful generation to be at odds with society. Mods, hippies, skinheads, punks and eco-warriors have all rebelled in their time. However, there lies the rub. They were reacting against the society structure whereas the new generation is a product of a society without structure.
EVEN THOSE in the West End aren't widely despised after all. Ibiza's natives have not turned against them. Behind the puke and sweat they see a more complex picture in which the louts are ordinary kids manipulated by a voracious industry. (Rory Carroll)
FILM OF THE WEEK
Reviews of `The Last Days of Disco'
THE BEST disco arrangements have a wonderful spangly exhilaration which discos themselves rarely lived up to. Stillman skewers this ruefully: he is a discursive film-maker, yet he makes better use of the deafening music, dapply glitter-balls and bozo doormen than louder directors. (Mark Steyn)
STILLMAN IS good with actors, writes sparkling dialogue, but is less good at plot and handling crowds, and the disco is not as alluring as it ought to appear. It may seem to be not about very much but, in fact, it is a penetrating portrait of a time and way of life. (William Russell)
STILLMAN IS a gifted writer of tart aphoristic dialogue, but why can he not channel it into films with a genuine dramatic impetus? The cast is not enough to stop this lumpen, one-paced affair from sliding into anonymity. The suspicion remains that the disco angle is there only to grab the attention of the hipster audience who would otherwise care not a jot about the fate of these young fogeys. (Trevor Johnston)
The Financial Times
STILLMAN'S STYLE is wicked, delicious, yielding layer after layer of straight-faced comment, devastatingly accurate but not unkind. (Martin Hoyle)
The Daily Mail
THERE'S NO more deadly accurate observer of young urban professionals. There is something of Austen about him. A sense of morality is never far from the surface. (Chris Tookey)
Stories from around the world
NORWAY'S PRIME Minister has been afflicted by "depression" and has put himself on sick leave, his office says. The depression has come in the final phase of extremely important budget negotiations, as the Norwegian krone has fallen and excessively loose financial politics threaten to lead to a severe recession in Norway.
The nation must be able to trust that its Prime Minister is functioning, with judgment and cool-headedness, in the face of the threat of war and crises. That's a very tough demand. But neither are there very many people who aspire to be prime minister. If the man does not meet the demands, which are fully understood, there is only one alternative: to step down from the post.
Papua New Guinea
A LOBBY to have a woman nominee in Parliament is continuing as women step up awareness on the issue. The nominee would concentrate on issues that directly affect women ignored by the male-dominated Parliament. A radio phone-in on this subject had three callers: two women and a man. The women callers supported the idea of appointment to the Parliament and called on MPs to endorse it. The male caller also supported the idea. He said women are good homemakers and would likewise make a big difference when they get into parliament.
THERE HAS been a public outcry over Thailand's bizarre performance against Indonesia in their Tiger Cup match. In their final group match on Monday night, neither Thailand nor Indonesia wanted to win, as they would then have to play against Vietnam in the semi-finals. An intentional own goal by Indonesia in the dying seconds handed Thailand, the defending champions, an undesired 3-2 victory. Thailand coach Vittaya Laohakul admitted Thailand did not want to win against Indonesia because it was easier to play Singapore, who face Indonesia in the other semi-final today. Meanwhile, enraged Thai football fans want both the Thai and Indonesian teams punished.
Quotes of the Week
"It's good to be home in Northern Ireland."
Bill Clinton, referring to his Irish ancestry
"If Russia goes badly wrong, what we may see
is history starting all over again."
Lord Lamont, former Conservative Chancellor
"When she looks you in the eye, it's like looking at two loaded Exocet missiles."
James Gillick, artist, describing the sittings with Baroness Thatcher when painting her portrait
"I never wanted to be thin to have a good time because I had a hugely good time being fat."
Maeve Binchy, author
"In America, you are lucky if they know the name of the British Prime Minister."
George Walden, former education minister
"These people are not rational like you and me."
A police officer's remark to Dr David Starkey,
as he escorted the historian from a crowd
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