MONITOR: IRISH PEACE PROCESS

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Irish opinion on the state of the peace process

as the 2 April deadline for agreement approaches

Irish News

IT HAS been unfortunate, to put it mildly, to hear claims that the murder of Mrs Nelson has made decommissioning significantly less likely than had previously been the case. This is precisely what the callous individuals who killed the lawyer wanted to hear. Their intention is to destroy the peace process, and they must not be allowed to succeed.

It is worth pointing out that some republicans have laid great stress on what they regard as the necessity to retain weapons for defensive purposes. It is plain that all the stockpiles of republican arms could not have saved the life of Mrs Nelson. Ireland will be a better place when all the paramilitary groups on both sides of the divide, and their guns, cease to exist.

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The Belfast

Telegraph

CLASHES IN Portadown followed on the murder of Rosemary Nelson. Against this backdrop, it is little wonder that meetings in Washington have failed to produce any breakthroughs. Leaders have exchanged views and listened to exhortations from three governments, but are reserving any new initiatives for the important business beginning next Monday. Events were moving too quickly, at home, for any meaningful engagement. The clock is ticking, however, and everyone should be aware of how little time is left for clinching the deal on devolution.

Unless a middle way can be found, before 2 April, that enables David Trimble and most unionists to agree, without surrender, to form an executive including Sinn Fein, the whole peace process could founder.

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The Irish Times

HUGE ADVANCES have been made since St Patrick's Day last year, when it was difficult to see how the political leaders would be able to sign up to an agreement. A year later and those same politicians are working together on a daily basis. They have been joined in committees by parties which boycotted the negotiations and argue that the Belfast Agreement is a doomed project, but still want to be part of the machinery of any government which results from it. The Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein will probably continue to insist that one side, their own, has made all the concessions and gained nothing in return. But the evidence is increasingly against them. The peace is far from perfect but it offers the only possibility of a better future for the children and grandchildren of all those who have suffered over the past 30 years.

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An Phloblacht

THE GOOD Friday Agreement was a genuine attempt to assert the primacy of politics. It laid out the steps to be taken to put in place the necessary political institutions. Those steps should have been taken. How can you assert the primacy of politics without political institutions? Those who, like the unionists, have never accepted that there was a genuine conflict also now demand an IRA surrender as the next step.

This is also no surprise. That they couch it in terms of democracy is merely nonsense. But what would be surprising is if the two governments step outside the Agreement and back the unionists' wrecking tactics. It would then be fair to ask why so late in the day they doubt republicans' commitment to resolving this conflict. It would also be fair to ask what their alternative is.

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Sunday Business Post

SHOULD THE whole process founder on decommissioning, who will then be there in the republican movement to argue with the traditionalists when they point yet again to the political veto that has flowed to the IRA out of the barrels of their undecommissioned guns? These are the political and paramilitary realities we face. Either Trimble and the unionists accept that the decommissioning crisis will be dealt with by the de Chastelain Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, or else they will plunge the process back into crisis.

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