Here is how some press commentators responded to the continuing impasse in Northern Ireland - in particular to the hunt for the "disappeared" and the controversy over the proposed naming of Paras by the Bloody Sunday inquiry.

OBVIOUSLY if the peace process is to continue we must draw a line somewhere on the past and its crimes. But that does not mean we have to indulge republicans at every turn. The return of the IRA's disappeared should not even be recognised as a bargaining chip in the political process. The abduction of members of the nationalist community, their murder and burial in secret places, and denial of their involvement, is an IRA war crime. To lie about these killings as the IRA have done so for the past two decades and to deny the victims' families the right of a proper burial is a further crime. But it is an IRA war crime that the IRA should solve. It is not the role of the British House of Commons to grant absolution to the IRA for its dirty deeds.

Kevin Toolis The Guardian

THE TWO condiments of human life are tar and whitewash. The IRA used to mix tar with feathers, its "gentler" reprimand of those defying its rules. Whitewash never had been an active ingredient in the paramilitary game. But now it is. The IRA had hopes of whitewashing some grisly murders by offering up the secretly buried remains of victims to relatives long tortured by grief and uncertainty. The aim was to generate two nice warm waves: a wave of Irish gratitude towards its vote-seeking wing, Sinn Fein, and a wave of British assent to republican political demands in the peace process. In other words, the terrorists and their allies wish to be known as nice guys who win ball games. But IRA whitewash doesn't seem to stick. The substance that makes lighthouses stand out proud and positive has, in this case, disappeared in runnels of scorn, human heartbreak and crocodile tears. Instead of giving the bereaved back their dead, the IRA and its apologists have uncovered a fresh cache of hypocrisy, dissimulation, faithlessness and contempt for suffering.

Cal McCrystal The Express

TO SAY that the peace process in Northern Ireland is an ugly farce that has to end is to place oneself in odd company. Standing side-by-side with the declamatory figure of Ian Paisley is rarely likely to enhance one's dignity or, indeed, ability to be heard. But it is a position that honest democrats in the Irish Republic such as Brendan McGahon now find themselves in. And it is an altogether nobler position than the British Government's current posture - in Martin McGuiness's embrace. For the peace process has proved, over time, to be a staged submission to terrorist demands. From the shrouds of innocents we have fashioned a white flag....

The democratic majority in Northern Ireland have received nothing in return for these concessions, save the directions to unmarked graves.

Michael Gove The Times

THE MEN who did these things posed for years, and still do, as heroes of Ireland, patriots of old Erin. But this is a land where I lived for five years and came to like and respect, and I know of no Irishman or woman, Protestant or - like Jean McConville - Catholic, who would give these thugs the spittle of their tongue. Yet today, whoever they are, they walk happy and free, knowing that even if St Michael and all his angels came down to testify against them, the hand of no Garda or RUC officer would ever touch their shoulders. They are amnestied, immune, anonymous for ever by decree of an elected British Government. And not even in exchange for testifying to the truth. But consider how that same British Government treats its own former soldiers, 17 men of the Parachute Regiment. One awful Sunday in 1972, a company of Paras in the Bogside, Londonderry, faced with a rioting mob and, believing themselves to be under armed attack, opened fire. Fourteen civilians died. However bad it was, it was not premeditated, deliberate or planned....

The names will be published so that, maybe, IRA hitmen will be able to come in the wee small hours while Mr Blair and Lord Saville sleep safe in their beds....

We are told it is all for the peace process. But someone should learn that peace is a fragile thing. It may have to be won by feat of arms; negotiated by skilful diplomacy or even bought, as by the Danegeld. But no just and lasting peace ever came from betraying good men to appease bad ones.

Frederick Forsyth Daily Mail

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