We will not be disenfranchised
Last week, this paper went to print on a note of optimism. The IRA had again taken a unilateral and positive initiative to demonstrate its commitment to the peace process.
Within days, however, the Ulster Unionists had made another of their characteristically negative contributions to that same process.
Beleagured party leader David Trimble was blatantly honest in his letter to Ulster Unionist Council delegates in advance of last Saturday's meeting. Outlining a clear strategy of disengagement from the Agreement, Trimble wrote to each and every one of them advocating the creation of a crisis, engineering a suspension of the institutions, and putting the blame at the feet of republicans.
Are these the thoughts of a Nobel prize winner, a First Minister dedicated to defending the peace process, or are they the schemings of a sectional leader terrified of the prospect of equality, of actually sharing power with nationalists and republicans? Unionist demands for disarmament are merely a means of postponing the inevitability of having to stare nationalists and republicans in the eyes as equals
The British government, a guarantor of the Agreement, by choosing to allow David Trimble his latest discriminatory attempt to exclude Sinn Féin, is complicit in creating this latest crisis.
What David Trimble, Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson need to remember this week, is that the institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement are not freestanding but are inextricably linked. The Assembly and Executive cannot exist without the All-Ireland institutions. Defending the Agreement means defending all the institutions.
It is up to the two governments to defend the Good Friday Agreement. In its decision to meet with Bairbre de Brún on Friday, the Dublin government has stepped up.
The British government, rather than insult our intelligence with calls not to ``overreact'', has to start honouring its commitments. Need we remind them of their failure on policing, demilitarisation, and implementing human rights legislation?
One thing this week is certain. Sinn Féin ministers will not allow the thousands of people who voted for their party across the Six Counties to be disenfranchised.