LEADING ARTICLE:Too soon for accolades

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The Independent Online
another view I welcomed the IRA's ceasefire declaration unequivocally. It was particularly poignant for me and my family, as it took effect on what would have been my son Tim's 14th birthday. And I do give credit to Gerry Adams for the role he played in persuading hard-line elements in the IRA to abandon violence and back the peace process instead. Five months on from the IRA ceasefire, and three and a half months on from the loyalist paramilitaries' ceasefire, there is a tangible and entirely understandable mood ofhope and expectancy among the ordinary people of the island of Ireland. The feeling is that this momentous opportunity for lasting peace must not be lost.

But just now, exaggerated and as yet unwarranted praise is being heaped upon Gerry Adams. And it concerns me that so much of this praise is emanating from unexpected quarters, people who should understand better than they apparently do that their remarkscan cause considerable pain and offence to those who have suffered at the hands of the IRA.

I would appeal to Peter Brooke and others, whose words carry great weight, to keep a sense of proportion in the language they use in public. For all that those of us on the outside of the IRA know, the "courageous step" with which Gerry Adams is creditedby Peter Brooke may have been no more than a change of tactics. The IRA must recognise that its tactics were reviled and opposed by all right-thinking people of all shades and persuasions. As such, the IRA may simply have been trying to hold on to its nationalist constituency.

There is little doubt that the level and the depravity of the violence being perpetrated by each side had sickened even the hardest of hearts.

Only time will tell whether Gerry Adams has earned the right to the accolades which are being proffered so prematurely. I have no wish to destabilise the delicately balanced peace process, and it is incumbent on us all to be extremely cautious in the words we use. But as much as we want to keep the protagonists within the peace framework, it debases us all if we say or do anything that panders to the people who have so recently been a part of the movement to get Britain out of Ireland, whatever the human cost.

If the ceasefire holds permanently, and if the IRA shows the maturity and flexibility to accommodate the hopes of the overwhelming majority of the people of northern Ireland, then Gerry Adams will get my gratitude. But not before.

Colin Parry, whose son Tim was killed in an IRA bombing in Warrington, is a prominent campaigner for peace in Northern Ireland.

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