1 July 2004 Edition
Taoiseach must get his act together on peace process
The persistent weakness of the Fianna Fáil/PD Government on the peace process is a cause of real concern.
It seems that Bertie Ahern places his 'special relationship' with Tony Blair above all else. Of course, the Dublin Government should have a close and continuous engagement with London, but the Ahern/Blair relationship has for long been a one-sided affair, with the Taoiseach acting as the junior partner. He has too readily accepted delay after delay and the serial suspension by Blair of the institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement.
Their joint establishment of the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission, which undermines the Agreement, was a low point in the entire peace process. It now infects the process like a virus in a computer system.
We saw another symptom of the FF/PD Government's flawed approach last week. Elsewhere in this paper we report on the sectarian spectacle at Lisburn Council when unionists again combined to exclude nationalists. A senior official was due to represent the government as an observer at the meeting and he was confirmed to attend up to the eve of the meeting. Then he contacted nationalist councillors to say that instructions had come from Dublin that neither he nor other officials were to attend.
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin put it to the Taoiseach in the Dáil on Wednesday that this was "a totally unacceptable climbdown by the government and sends an entirely wrong signal to everyone that the government is less than vigilant when it comes to combating sectarianism and discrimination". The Taoiseach said he was not aware of the withdrawal from the meeting.
This is but one symptom of the malaise at the heart of FF/PD Government policy at present. It must not be allowed to continue and republicans must bring political pressure to bear on the Taoiseach and his party to get their act together.