that the IRA has not broken the ceasefire
MO MOWLAM'S assertion that she has "come close" to judging the IRA ceasefire to be "deeply flawed" is limp. This decision is pure pragmatism. But those who still believe that there can be a final push to a fully peaceful settlement will be slow to say that the Secretary of State has done the wrong thing. The relatively muted response from unionist spokesmen confirms that the more responsible elements in their ranks also want another chance to see if business can be done under Senator Mitchell's hand next month.
THE IRA has maintained its military ceasefire: it has not even declared a policing ceasefire. That is the real issue that Mo Mowlam was dodging when she hid behind judicial and legislative casuistry to bolster her judgment. Many more people would have been a lot happier, even with the same decision, if she had explained it with the kind of forthrightness with which she is privately credited. She has not, and that leaves her looking two-faced - and two-faced about the value which is common to all, namely the value of a human life, and the reverence for truth which that value should draw forth.
MOVING FROM conflict to politics is a necessarily messy and equivocal process. In the present circumstances, the place for Sinn Fein to establish their credentials and those of the wider republican movement is in the political forum. No party should be allowed to avoid the testing of their integrity by other parties. For this reason, most fair-minded people will accept, reluctantly, and with a degree of abhorrence at the continuance of gangland killings on both sides, the ruling of the Secretary of State as the only one in all the circumstances. The feeling we reflect is of a public which says we don't like it Mo, but rather you than me, and good luck to you.
UNIONISTS COMPLAIN the English language is being re-invented as the British and Irish governments bend over backwards to prevent the ceasefire disintegrating. Already fuming over leaked proposals to dismantle the RUC, they point to the Bennett murder and ask when is violence not violence? When is a ceasefire not a ceasefire? But such questions should not be confined solely to one side of the debate. They should also be directed at organisations affiliated to loyalist murder gangs threatening to wreck the process. Rather than undermining the process, Unionists should recognise the enormous progress made in the North towards the creation of peace and a political administration representative of all its people.
THERE WILL be those on both sides of the divide who conclude that the IRA, and it should be acknowledged, the UVF and the UDA as well, have displayed a persistent and cynical disregard for the spirit of the Stormont agreement. However, most reasonable observers will feel that, in the most challenging of circumstances, Dr Mowlam has got it just about right. She has accepted that considerable damage has been caused to the process, but judged that it is not beyond repair. What we have plainly is an imperfect peace, and it is now up to all our politicians to ensure that the formal review of the agreement leads to discernible and significant improvements.
THE DECISION was not necessarily based on fact or opinion. It was a political decision. It was a pragmatic decision. To declare the ceasefire broken would have resulted in some sort of sanction on the participation of Sinn Fein in the review of the Good Friday Agreement. Mowlam knew that there could be no worthwhile review of the agreement without the participation of Sinn Fein. She knew that there could be no progress on the peace process if Sinn Fein was sitting on the sidelines. Her decision has been made. We now will go into the review process of the Good Friday Agreement next month.
A MESSAGE has been sent out to paramilitaries that this is an administration which can turn a blind eye to violence. Dr Mowlam has taken a decision which has all the hallmarks of a political expedient and the people of Northern Ireland now have to live with the consequences. In short, yesterday was a bad day for democracy.Reuse content