Republican News · Thursday 03 February 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Silent guns pose no threat

After 70 years of partition and sectarian discrimination, people in the Six Counties have now been treated to sixty-odd days of a new power-sharing executive and all-Ireland institutions. If the Ulster Unionist Party leaders have their way, that will be the extent of the experience of those institutions and of moves towards equality and democracy.

Republicans have moved again and again in this process in an effort to accommodate others.

It was the IRA cessation of 1994 which laid down the challenge for politicians to devise a means to establish new political structures to bring a permanent end to political violence on this island. That organisation suffered defections by a minority within its ranks as a result of its quest to build a peace process.

Sinn Féin convened its membership to change its own party constitution in order to enter an Assembly which republicans never sought during negotiations, itself risking internal stresses and difficulties.

At the end of last year, the IRA appointed a representative to meet the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) and General John de Chastelain.

Republican leaders have patently stretched their constituency to the limit in an effort to meet British and unionist concerns.

Despite all of this, David Trimble has repeatedly moved the goalpsosts in relation to the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. He successfully prevented the implementation of that Agreement for over 18 months.

Last year, after reaching agreement on a way forward with both governments and the other parties at Downing Street, he effected a u-turn two days later and sought further preconditions.

After the subsequent Mitchell Review, when there was clear agreement between all sides on the way forward, he called a meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council and imposed new preconditions, including his own arbitrary deadline for decomissioning.

Trimble is now threatening to collapse everything that has been built up and he seeks to pin the blame on Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin is not and has never at any stage been in default of the Good Friday Agreement. It has honoured all of its commitments under the Good Friday Agreement and in any of the subsequent negotiations.

Sinn Féin has never entered into any commitments which it could not keep. The party has always pointed out that decommissioning is a collective responsibility and was never in the gift of Sinn Féin alone to deliver.

The only way to successfully remove the gun from Irish politics is to demonstrate that politics can work in addressing the problems faced by society.

The IRA has stated that it poses no threat to the peace process. IRA guns are silent. Despite this fact, unionist leaders are prepared to dash the hopes of the Irish people, ostensibly over those silent guns.

David Trimble should be told that enough is enough. It must be made clear that it is unionist leaders who are threatening to destroy the current process. Neither the Irish nor British governments should bow to their threats.

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