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22 April 2004 Edition

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Governments devalue Peace Process

It has been almost ten years since the first IRA cessation. In that time, republicans have made enormous gestures for peace, often entailing great sacrifice. At times, even our harshest critics have acknowledged the work we have undertaken. But sometimes, like now, our input is completely ignored.

The IMC report is a reactionary, short-sighted, unjust attack, directed against republicans and playing into the hands of anti-Agreement unionism. It gives only a nod to the seemingly neverending rash of loyalist sectarian and racist attacks. This is despite the fact that both governments and even PSNI Chief Hugh Orde, have all said on various occasions that the IRA poses no threat to the Peace Process, and that loyalist violence is of more concern.

The brainchild of London and Dublin, an attempt to mollify the now redundant David Trimble and his Ulster Unionists, the IMC has worked to unravel the progress made throughout the last decade.

The motivation behind it is simple. The British Government will use any excuse to shaft republicans. The Dublin Government is facing into two difficult elections, and unfortunately Sinn Féin's growth means that the republicans have to be considered first and foremost as electoral opponents. The peace process may suffer because of this, but when it comes down to it, the Dublin Government parties are only interested in protecting themselves.

Republicans are justifiably incensed this week. What progress can be made while the two governments maintain their feckless attitude to the process?

We have been enthusiastic, eager participants in this peace process. Every few months we have faced accusations, slurs, downright insults, and yet we have continued to make ourselves available for negotiations and talks.

We have fulfiled the promises we made in the Good Friday Agreement. But we have had to deal with the many unfulfilled promises of the two governments, with regard to policing, demilitarisation, and many other areas.

We didn't bring down Stormont and the Executive. It wasn't our actions that postponed the elections last May. We didn't break down the sequence of events aimed at restoring devolution last October.

And yet, we are still being blamed for everything that is wrong with the Peace Process as it stands.

What is at stake here is a very valuable prize - a peace process that has brought, and can continue to bring, stability to this island. The two governments are willing to risk that prize for the sake of short-term political gain.

They must be made understand that the Peace Process is too important for such antics.

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