Leading article: A settlement comes closer

Share

There is turmoil and violence in so much of the world, with trouble deepening in so many regions, that it is almost refreshing to turn to Northern Ireland and the latest report by the Independent Monitoring Commission, which provides evidence that the IRA is disappearing.

Belfast, once a doleful international metaphor for unending war, has now put most of its violence behind it. It stands as welcome proof that even the most intractable of conflicts can in time lose their fire and their deadly heat.

The Commission's report lays out, in convincing detail, how the IRA is currently deploying the same determination and energy it used to devote to killing to the task of consigning itself to history.

Few will mourn its departure: it claimed almost 1,800 lives, and although it was not the only source of violence, it should have called off its campaign years earlier than it did.

The authorities - British, Irish and American - are entirely convinced that it is in the business of fulfilling its promise to pursue a peaceful path, relying no longer on the guns of the IRA but on the influence of Sinn Fein.

The republicans still have to commit themselves on the issue of policing, but all the signals from Sinn Fein are that they are prepared to do so as part of an overall settlement. Yesterday's report brings the prospect of such a settlement closer.

The main stumbling-block to a power- sharing deal has been the - quite understandable - unionist fear of making a deal with Sinn Fein while a private republican army continued to lurk in the shadows.

The call on whether there is to be powersharing or not will be made by the ageing but still formidable figure of the Rev Ian Paisley, whose Democratic Unionist Party dominates Protestant politics.

On his more combative days he says he will do no deal; but then sometimes he and other DUP voices appear to hint that he might. Unsure of his intentions, London and Dublin have for months been putting him under as much pressure as they can.

They have set up talks for next week at St Andrews in Scotland, leading up to what they insist will be an absolute negotiating deadline of 24 November. After that, he is being sternly told, political salaries will stop and any prospect of devolution will disappear for years.

Mr Paisley is a hard man to pressurise, with a remarkable ability to disregard what the rest of the world thinks of him. Maybe he will go for it, maybe not. But the timetable of the weeks to come has rightly been designed to put him to the test.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Sorry Britain, but nobody cares about your little election – try being relevant next time

Emanuel Sidea
 

Election 2015: The big five of British politics

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power