Republican News · Thursday 21 December 2000

[An Phoblacht]

British bad faith

As we draw to the close of 2000, there is a sense that much of the progress envisaged by the people of this nation over two years ago has been retarded by those who are refusing to move forward in good faith.

The Good Friday Agreement was overwhelmingly endorsed by the people of this country, carried on a wave of enthusiam and hope for the future, unprecedented in 30 years of political struggle. There were doubts, difficulties and forebodings, but republicans determined to honour the responsibilities to which they had committed themselves. This determination has been one of the few constants throughout this phase of the struggle.

The positive engagements of republicans has been sadly betrayed by prevarication, dishonesty and abrogation of responsibility on the part of the British government, not for the first time in its dealings with Ireland.

The opportunities to achieve a radical transformation of policing to provide a service acceptable to all sections of society and the demilitarisation of Britain's presence in the Six Counties, two of the core aspects of the Agreement, have been squandered thus far by the British government.

This has been compounded by David Trimble's sabotaging of the North-South Ministerial Council - another key aspect of the Agreement, a move that has gone unchallenged by the British, supposed guarantors of the Agreement.

Regardless of Trimble's posturing, it is not his Agreement alone, nor is it he who has the power to implement or subvert it.

Culpability for this present crisis lies squarely with the British government, whose negative attitude is most apparent in Peter Mandelson and the conspiratorial fraternity of securocrats who back him up. Martin McGuinness has appropriately termed him a ``disaster'' for the peace process. None of the efforts to end this present crisis will work unless the British engage to deal with the problems that they themselves have created.

Nonetheless Sinn Féin is doing its best to find a way out of this impasse. This will be very difficult at this time, not only for these reasons but because the Ulster Unionist Party stands poised for yet another Ulster Unionist Council (UUC) meeting in the New Year. Undoubtedly this will be convened on the basis of the wrecker's charter proposed by David Trimble at the last UUC meeting.

If London is serious about making peace, then it has to convince Irish republicans that it can be trusted to keep its word.

Blair and Mandelson don't have to look too far for a New Year's resolution.

Must try harder.

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