Irish Republican News · April 26, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: PEACE ON HOLD
PEACE ON HOLD

Bitter political exchanges look to set to continue at least until the British general election in May following Bertie Ahern’s statement that he does not expect developments in the peace process until after the summer.

Despite the Dublin premier’s negative view, he said it was “time to stabilise things”. But he also said that he does not “see a way of getting the [necessary] trust and confidence at present”.

Speaking in cryptic terms at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin, he said: “Ultimately we will have to come around to the starting line again. Everyone may not get to it again. History says that’s the way it always was. History is usually right.”

He added that those supporting “the physical force tradition” would “drift off”. This was “a feature of Irish history”, he declared.

He claimed he had anticipated the failure to reach agreement last December.

“I saw it coming last year. In April 2003 and October 2003 we got very close to the line. The issue was the same. I am not going to say very much about it, though it is not fully understood by the wider audience. The same issue, the same specific issue created difficulties for the negotiations.”

Meanwhile, the Dublin parliament has been debating a motion condemning Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA.

The motion by the opposition Fine Gael party, supported by Labour and the Greens, notes the assessment by the Irish and British governments that the IRA was responsible for the pre-Christmas bank raid.

The IRA has denied involvement in the robbery and last week withdrew its offer to decommmission its weapons, accusing the Irish and British governments of damaging the peace process.

The motion condemns the IRA’s statements last week as “retrograde” and “an implicit threat to the Irish people”, and demanded that “IRA criminality” must come to a complete end.

It also condemned recent comments by the Sinn Féin leadership denying that certain IRA actions should be considered crimes.

Sinn Féin Dail group leader, Caoimhghin O Caolain, described the motion as “very negative, and offering nothing in terms of moving the whole peace process forward”.

“They seem to be returning to the failed agenda of their former leader John Bruton,” said O Caolain. [Bruton became known to the public as ‘John Unionist’ for his anti-nationalist views]

“Their narrow-minded and blinkered anti-republican agenda has well and truly exposed. In fact it stands in marked contrast to their lack of concern on other issues. Where was Fine Gael’s outrage and indignation at the failure of Paul Murphy and the British Government to provide information in relation to the role of their forces in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and other acts of collusion in this state?”

“The Sinn Féin amendment focuses on the Good Friday Agreement. That’s the basis for us all to move forward.”

PAWNS OFF THE BOARD

The Sinn Féin amendment to the motion said the party rejected criminality in all its forms but made no reference to the early release of the Castlerea 4 - the key issue which secured the government’s support for the motion.

The redrafted Fine Gael motion welcomed Ahern’s recent statement that his offer regarding the early release of the Castlerea 4 was “off the table”.

The four remain jailed at Castlerea prison over the manslaughter of Garda Jerry McCabe in contradiction of the early releases mandated by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Fuelled by anti-republican media coverage, the men described as “McCabe killers” have been withheld as pawns in the peace negotiations.

Their potential release was described by Mr Ahern this week as “off the table and I do not see it coming back on the table either for that matter.”

© 2004 Irish Republican News