Bang, a bogus peace plan dies

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The Independent Online
ENOUGH is enough. On Monday week, the Downing Street Joint Declaration of the governments in London and Dublin will be three months old. It represents a policy of appeasing the IRA in the hope of securing a 'permanent cessation' of violence.

The futility of that policy has been clear to some of us from the beginning. With this week's mortar attack on Heathrow, it must surely now be clear, even to the besotted minds that conceived the Declaration, that the policy of appeasement is a total failure.

The fact is that the two governments, beginning with the Reynolds-Spring coalition in Dublin, were conned into that deal by the Army Council of the Provisional IRA, through a bogus 'peace process' that has been going on now for more than a year. The IRA put out the word that it was 'war- weary'. All that was needed for it to lay down its arms was some formula, some gesture, that would signify the recognition of the legitimacy of its objective, so that it might be able, with honour, to renounce the methods by which it has been struggling for more than 20 years to attain that objective.

Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, apparently convinced John Hume, leader of the SDLP, that that was indeed how matters stood. The first fruit of this was the joint declaration by Mr Hume and Mr Adams, nearly a year ago, recognising 'the right of the Irish people to national self- determination'. This formula, which delegitimises Northern Ireland and, in consequence, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represents the principle that the IRA has been struggling, and still struggles, to enforce.

That a government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland could even toy with that formula would have seemed incredible to all Mr Major's predecessors. Especially to those predecessors who proclaimed themselves to be leaders of the Conservative and Unionist Party, which is still the name of the party Mr Major leads.

The Hume-Adams joint declaration of April last included, as well as that ringing assertion which nullifies the Northern Unionists, several references to the need to win the 'consent' of the Unionists in question. There are five such references, and Garret Fitzgerald has found that statistic reassuring.

In fact, it cost Gerry Adams, and his controllers in the IRA, nothing whatever to acknowledge the need to win the consent of the Unionists to 'Ireland's right to national self- determination'. They have been seeking to win that consent for nearly a quarter of a century now, by murdering those who wrongfully withhold the consent that Ireland's 'right', so defined, requires of them.

Having put his signature to that joint declaration, forming a common front with Sinn Fein-IRA against the Unionists, Mr Hume got to work on the Dublin government. His objective was to get Dublin to get London to agree to some kind of declaration with some reference to Irish self-determination in it. This would help the pacific Mr Adams to convince the war-weary IRA to lay down their arms.

Mr Reynolds and Mr Spring, having listened to the persuasive Mr Hume, found this to be a brilliant wheeze. They went to Mr Major, whose officials had been previously softened up by talks with the IRA itself. The Downing Street Declaration followed on 15 December last.

It was not identical with the Hume-Adams declaration. The reference to self-determination was watered down a bit, and the references to Unionist consent were a bit stronger. But the descent of the Downing Street Declaration from the Hume-Adams one is unmistakable. And both declarations are the results of a brilliantly successful IRA policy of manipulation with the aid of disinformation. The supposedly war-weary IRA is now, according to security estimates, about three times as strong as it used to be, in terms of recruitment.

The IRA did not accord, in exchange for the declaration, even as much as a temporary and conditional ceasefire, let alone the 'permanent cessation' dreamt of by Downing Street. Not only that, but Sinn Fein did not even recommend the IRA to do so. It just pocketed what it had won by fraud, and demanded more, in the form of 'clarifications'. Pending clarifications, and no doubt clarifications of clarifications, until we get a united Ireland, the Brits will get more of the same. As at Heathrow.

Meanwhile, and as the IRA's armed struggle continues with the acquiescence of its servant, Sinn Fein, Mr Reynolds's government has made at least two important concessions to Sinn Fein without any reciprocation.

Since the foundation of the Irish state, following the Anglo-Irish treaty of December 1921, all Irish governments, for adequate reasons, have denied Sinn Fein access to the Irish National Broadcasting network, now known as RTE. In January of this year, without having secured any concession whatever from Sinn Fein/IRA, Mr Reynolds's government accorded that coveted access.

Mr Reynolds went on to use Dublin's influence with the 'Friends of Ireland' in the US Congress to get Gerry Adams his visa for the United States, where Mr Adams went on Larry King Live to blast the Brits for standing in the way of the peace process by failing to provide Sinn Fein with the 'clarifications' it required. That blow to Anglo-American relations has been Mr Major's sole reward for succumbing to the blandishments of Mr Reynolds and Mr Hume.

It is time to call a halt. The Government must wrench itself loose from the toils of an entirely bogus peace process. Mr Major should make it plain that the Downing Street Declaration died at Heathrow. And he should also tell Mr Reynolds that the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 will follow down the same path if Mr Reynolds's government continues to work that agreement in the same spirit that won Mr Adams's US visa.

If the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference continues, its first priority must henceforward be on security. And it must include contingency plans for internment on both sides of the border, applied even-handedly to both sets of paramilitary terrorists.

(Photograph omitted)