GOVERNMENT AND Opposition have different views about how far ministers can presume on their shadows' forbearance. The Prime Minister has made it clear that he feels William Hague's attack on government handling of the peace process undermines the peace process itself. It is important to note that his view is not shared in Northern Ireland, where even the most liberal Unionist voices applaud Mr Hague's intervention. The PM may, nevertheless, feel that his arduous search for a settlement in Ulster deserves better than the tone of the criticism mounted by Mr Hague.
IT IS all very well for Blair and Mowlam to criticise Mr Hague's attack on their handling of the most recent phase of the peace process but it is they who have stretched the integrity of the Agreement to the limit. New Labour seems to have lost sight of the reality, but in trying to achieve consent and consensus in Northern Ireland it must operate within parameters which can be supported by democrats and responsible citizens in other areas within its jurisdiction.
The Daily Telegraph
WHEN THINGS are going well for Mr Blair, he cannot dash too swiftly to Northern Ireland, with Alastair Campbell in tow. But when things are going badly, there is only abuse for the Conservatives and the abandonment of a colleague. For the first time, perhaps, we are viewing the PM in a real crisis. And what we see looks more like a rattled adolescent, dodging and ducking blame, than a man facing up to his responsibilities and obligations.
MR HAGUE has yet to convince observers that his understanding of Irish issues goes beyond the superficial. At the same time, it has to be accepted that IRA actions in recent times have presented Hague and others with an opening they were unable to resist. It must be hoped that the Conservative leader will now demonstrate that his interest in Irish affairs is a lasting one, and that he is capable of making a positive contribution to the debate on political progress.Reuse content