Irish Republican News · May 7, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Devolution restored
Devolution restored

British Direct Ruler Peter Hain has signed the order paving the way for a new era of power-sharing to begin.

Mr Hain approved the restoration order, enabling the Belfast Assembly to meet tomorrow to appoint a new multi-party administration of unionists and nationalists.

The signing of the order by Peter Hain is the formal start of the process that will draw the attention of the world’s media to Stormont buildings tomorrow.

Hundreds of journalists are gathering in Belfast for the day’s events that is expected to be screened around the globe.

DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness will be officially installed as the joint head of the new administration.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will be among guests who will witness Mr Paisley and Mr McGuinness taking oaths to become First and Deputy First ministers.

The Assembly will also nominate ten ministers to head the Six-County departments and two junior ministers.

A delegation of high-ranking American diplomats -- including senator Ted Kennedy -- will attend tomorrow’s restoration of the devolved assembly.

Sinn Féin leaders from across Ireland will also be present as Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley take up their positions in the Six-County Executive.

Among those in attendance will be party President Gerry Adams, incoming Ministers Caitriona Ruane, Michelle Gildernew, Gerry Kelly and Conor Murphy. They will be joined from the south by election candidates Mary Lou McDonald, Martin Ferris, David Cullinane, Padraig MacLochlainn, Joe Reilly, Jonathan O’Brien and Joanne Spain.

NO TURNING BACK - HAIN

The devolution of powers from London to Belfast is here to stay, Mr Hain predicted today.

“I really believe that after devolution day it would be as unthinkable for direct rule to be re-imposed on Northern Ireland as it would be for Scotland and Wales,” he said.

“I believe the transformation is now so firm and the preparations for government by the DUP and Sinn Féin are so deep and practical that Northern Ireland is set for permanent devolved government.

“I’m not saying there will not be the odd bump and hiccup after Tuesday.

“That is to be expected. It is the meat and drink of any government in any part of the world.

“However I’m convinced that the foundations have been laid and the concrete is set. I’m confident about the prospect of permanent devolution.”

McGUINNESS UP FOR TASK

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, speaking to journalists in his new office at Stormont, said he had had “many meetings” with Ian Paisley and they had all been conducted in “a very courteous and civilised fashion”.

Mr McGuinness admitted there would be difficult days ahead and difficult decisions to be taken. But he said that so far all of his experience in working with Ian Paisley was that both men were approaching the process in a proper frame of mind.

The restoration has the overwhelming support of people in the north and throughout the island, Mr McGuinness added. “There is tremendous satisfaction out in the community that at long last we are going to see the institutions that the people want put back in place,” he said.

He accepted that as well as being a momentous day, tomorrow will also be a sobering occasion with relatives of people who died in the conflict still grieving.

“I think all of us participating in the events of tomorrow will be very conscious of all of that,” he said.

“And very conscious of the need to ensure that we continue to move forward, that we continue to successfully move away from all of the inequalities, injustices, discrimination, violence and death of the past to a new future.

“It is hard to quantify how people within the victims group feel about all of this except we do know that many many people who have been victims of the conflict are also very supportive of the political change that has happened over the course of the recent while.

“Others will undoubtedly find it difficult to come to terms with all of this but I think this is a journey for everybody and it is a difficult journey but it is a journey we all have to take to move forward.

“We have to move forward not forgetting the past - certainly not forgetting all of those people who have been victims.

“I certainly know, coming from the community I come from, there are many people out there who have had absolutely no comfort from anybody within the British government in terms of the activities of British state forces and the many killings they engaged in without anybody facing one day in prison as a result of these activities.”

Mr McGuinness said people had to recognise that our past over the course of many centuries had been littered with conflict, injustice and inequality.

At the same time he said: “We are now at a place in our lives with every prospect of a political process being put in place which has the potential within it to prevent ever again the type of instability and injustice and conflict that we have seen in the past ever occurring again.”

Asked if he had ever thought, as an IRA commander in Derry in the early years of the latest phase of the conflict, if he would end up sharing an office with Ian Paisley, he said: “The truthful answer to that question is ‘no’.

“But I think also the time that I was an IRA commander was over 30 years ago.

“That is a long period of time - three decades - and a lot has happened over the course of those three decades.

“I have for the greater part of the last 15 years been involved at the highest level of leadership within Sinn Féin and Irish republicanism in an attempt to bring the conflict to an end in a way which would see all of the inequalities and injustices, instability, conflict and death a thing of the past.

“Here we are. The Irish peace process is one of the most successful peace processes in the world today and I would like to think that I along with others have played my part in making this happen.”

© 2007 Irish Republican News