Troops must go
The failure of the British government to make any meaningful
contribution to the demilitarisation of the situation in the Six
Counties is deeply disappointing and raises serious concerns about the
direction of the peace process.
This refusal to honour its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement
has been compounded this week in remarks by Peter Mandelson. To leave
the decision for movement on such a central and crucial issue, as he
wants to, in the hands of the RUC and British army, turns the
Agreement on its head and is an affront to the nationalist community.
Republicans have stretched themselves again and again to accommodate
others in the quest to implement the Good Friday Agreement and achieve
real political progress. That flexibility has not been reciprocated to
the same degree. It is now time for others to act. The removal of
British troops and the dismantling of the intrusive military
installations that scar the streets and landscape of the Six Counties
must be implemented without delay.
For his part David Trimble must carry his party fully into the process
and to dispel doubts about their full commitment to working
inclusively in the Executive and the other institutions. The
decommissioning issue is now where it belongs - with the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).
In the United States on Wednesday, when asked about threats to
collapse the Executive if there was no IRA decommissioning by
February, Gerry Adams pointed out that such deadlines had never worked
in other conflict resolution situations around the world.
Also on Wednesday, Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin voiced his
concern at comments reportedly made by Bertie Ahern and Peter
Mandelson. Ahern, when asked what would happen if the IRA did not
begin decommissioning by February, reportedly said that ``if there's
no decommissioning it is my view, with certainty, that the entire
thing will fall apart. Whatever happens after that is another
Mandelson, also speculating on IRA decommissioning, said that the UUP
decision to set a new February deadline, which falls outside the terms
of the Good Friday Agreement and the Mitchell Review, was
Responding, Mitchel McLaughlin said recent speculation and commentary
surrounding the issue of decommsioning had been unhelpful. Sinn Féin
believed the issue was now where it should always have been, with
General de Chastelain and the IICD. This is what had been agreed on
Good Friday and during the Mitchell Review.
``Collectively,'' said McLaughlin, ``we all have an obligation to make
the new institutions work. This must be the focus of the two
governments and all of the political parties. This is, in fact, what
people want. This is what people expect.''