13 April 2000 Edition
Mandelson spins out of control
Bruton parrots unionist line
BY SEAN BRADY
This week marks the second anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which was designed to change the face of politics on this island and provide a route map out of conflict. Since then, however, the Agreement has been breached in spirit and in letter. The institutions provided for under the Agreement were allowed to survive for just eight weeks before being unceremoniusly binned by a British Secrtary of State acting on the orders of the Ulster Unionist Party. There has been no tangible progress on policing, justice, human rights, or the demilitarsation of the Six Counties. Last week, 20 Sinn Féin councillors were told that they are being targeted by loyalist assassins.
Following two years of loyalist gun and bomb attacks against the nationalist community, continued militarisation and harassment by the British Army of the nationalist community, the active targeting of republicans for assassination, and the breaching of the Agreement by the British government, it is indeed remarkable that the IRA cessation remains in place.
Meanwhile, the British government continues to mismanage the peace process. A resolution of the current crisis will not come from an approach built on hope or wishful thinking and claims by British Direct Ruler Peter Mandelson of an imminent breakthrough in the process before Easter are over optimistic and amount to another piece of Mandelsonian spin.
What is needed is positive action. Mandelson needs to undo the damage he caused by collapsing the institutions. He can do this by reinstating them immediately.
Speaking at Stormont on Monday, 10 April, the Agreement's second anniversary, Sinn Féin North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly said: ``Today, instead of celebrating the progress which the Good Friday Agreement should have made by now, the reality is that the process is at its lowest and most dangerous point in years.
``The responsibility for this lies firmly with the British government. It has singularly failed to defend the integrity of the Agreement and has instead conceded to the Ulster Unionist Party the ability to veto progress.
``We don't want empty rhetoric from Mr Mandelson, we want the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the re-establishment of the institutions which he tore down.''
Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said on Thursday that, at present, claims by British Direct Ruler in the North Peter Mandelson of an imminent breakthrough in the stalled peace process before Easter appeared to be optimistic.
Meanwhile, comments by Fine Gael leader John Bruton on Monday that Peter Mandelson was correct to suspend the Good Friday institutions are outrageous, particularly coming from the leader of the second party in the 26 Counties. Responding, Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said that Bruton ``needs to remember that more than two million Irish people voted for the setting up of these institutions - not for one British politician to pull them down''.
McLaughlin was speaking in Dublin at the first meeting of Sinn Féin's Ard Chomhairle, newly elected by the party's Ard Fheis at the weekend.
McLaughlin said the Good Friday Agreement is the template for progress. ``Not only do we have to get David Trimble back to that template but now it appears we have to get Peter Mandelson back to it as well.''