October 25, 2001

Peace in Northern Ireland

The peace process in Northern Ireland has been compared with a canal system with locks along the way which control the level and flow of water. The process was well and truely stuck and in danger of complete collapse until the breakthrough of last week. Decommissioning of weapons is one of the components of the Good Friday agreement which all the political parties signed up to in 1998.

Last week after a lot of behind the scenes pressure and bargaining, Gerry Adams called on the IRA to decommission weapons and they responsed positively. Some kind of significant decommissioning was verified by an independent International group. As a result the British government has ordered the dismantling of four army watch towers in Souh Armagh, part of the demilitarisation Sein Finn demanded. The loyalists have yet to disarm and other army lookout points are still intact. The peace process has been saved by these events, the fledgling assembly which was in danger of being suspended yet again is working on behalf of all the people in N. Ireland. Even Paisley's party members are back at their offices working the system! Hopefully the anti agreement voices will become more muted as time goes on.

The peace river flows more easily again though the waters continue to be muddied with sectarian hatred and bigotry. However the ground swell of relief and renewed hope gives us all more determination to build a new society in this part of the island of Ireland.

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