Monitor: The Irish press considers the prospects for the Belfast agreement as Easter approaches

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The Independent Culture
WHAT HAPPENS this week will be effectively the test of whether the "Republican family" is now truly committed to peaceful methods or if what we have seen so far has been nothing more than a tactical switch to "unarmed struggle". Those who are committed to purely democratic methods have given everything that is within their gift to the various paramilitaries who have declared that they too want to participate. The privilege of democratically elected office while a private, armed force operates on the streets cannot be ceded. It will be an instructive week.

Irish Times

THE MERCHANTS of death are still with us. They are standing in the wings, waiting for failure. No one is in any doubt as to the enormity of the task ahead of our political leaders. We have a long way to go before fear, suspicion and mistrust between the two communities can be overcome. As Good Friday approaches we place our faith, trust and prayers in the hands of our elected leaders to find a way through the current impasse. We cannot go back to the misery and relentless violence of the past.

Irish News

THE IRA and Sinn Fein are far from blameless in this sorry state of affairs. Their insistence on sticking to the letter of the agreement rather than recognising their broader obligations under it has helped fuel unionist suspicions about their long term aims. Unionists, of course, have not exactly been helpful. Indeed, David Trimble's intransigence on the issue has turned it into the major obstacle to progress that the peace process has faced since it began over four years ago.

Irish Echo

NO ONE knows if the pro-Agreement parties can reach a deal for the second year. Pressure-cooker politics will intensify when Blair and Bertie Ahern arrive. Ulster Unionists have made clear they will table a motion at the Assembly to exclude Sinn Fein if decommissioning has not begun. Dr Mowlam insisted that parties would have to face up to trying to find a way forward and insisted there is no plan "B".

Belfast Telegraph