Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

21 January 1999 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

SDLP must not go on solo run

At these difficult times in the peace process, the strengh and potential of the nationalist consensus-based approach should be neither forgotten, nor underestimated. Nationalist inclusivness was a pillar of the efforts that facilitated the current peace process. The principle of consensus between the Irish government, the SDLP and Sinn Féin as the representatives of nationalist Ireland has been the guiding principle of the efforts undertaken these past years to bring lasting peace.

In 1993, the Hume/Adams joint initative overseen by the Taoiseach Albert Reynolds kick-started this approach. The IRA then called a cessation that opened an unprecedented window of opportunity for political progess. In the past, this nationalist voice of consensus and inclusivness was the driving force that lead to the Good Friday Agreement.

As the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement repeatedly hits the hurdles laid by unionists, the voice of inclusivness has to continue echoing. It has helped overcome the traps of obstructionism and exclusion in the past. Today, the SDLP leadership has to be mindful that pandering to unionism not only is not helpful. It provides them with political cover and reinforces their intransigence. The nationalist community is increasingly concerned about the fact that this party did not push for the establishment of an equality department and has left this fundemental issue to be dealt with by David Trimble. The decision to not inform the Sinn Féin team of the outcome of the final negotiations in the run-up to the 18 December agreement was disgraceful behaviour and contradicts the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement. Furthermore, the SDLP should have opposed the successful Unionist efforts to weaken the All-Ireland implimentation bodies.

In the run-up to the 15 Febuary final report on the departments and the All-Ireland bodies, abandoning the nationalist voice of consensus does not encourage Unionists to recognise the legitimacy of nationalist people to be represented in the Executive. It does not help the agreement to be implemented. It does not help the cause of peace.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1