24 February 2000 Edition

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Mála Poist

A question for Bertie Ahern

The front page feature article in last week's Sunday Business Post quotes unnamed `British sources' as claiming that the Irish Government had not alerted London beforehand to the constitutional and legal difficulties for the Republic which the British Government's suspension of the Good Friday Agreement institutions would create.

``They have since, a source said,'' concludes the article.

Is this another example of the talent for spin-doctoring of the `Prince of Darkness'? Or can there possibly be truth in it?

Surely the Irish Government made the strongest possible representations to its British counterpart when the Blair Administration put an Act through the House of Commons a fortnight ago purporting to give the Secretary of State the legal power in British law to suspend the Good Friday institutions, a power that he in due course used?

It surely passes belief that Bertie Ahern's Government could have failed to apprise its British counterpart in the strongest possible terms that such unilateral legislative action was in breach of the British-Irish Agreement, an international treaty, and would have the effect if acted on of undermining the constitutional and legal status in the Republic of the institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement? Or that it would have the effect of altering profoundly the new constitutional status of Northern Ireland arising from the British-Irish Agreement? Or that

unilateral suspension of the Institutions would be an insult to the Irish Government, people and Constitution, quite apart from the political consequences of such action?

It has been suggested in the press that Ahern belatedly drew attention to this matter in his Irish Times article last Monday in order to maintain a political link with Sinn Féin. Is it possible that the real reason why the Government might wish to let Sinn Fein make the running on it is that it does not wish attention to be drawn to its own failure, in the lead-up to the House of Commons Act, to protest in the most forcible fashion at the introduction of this legislation by the British Government, and the constitutional and legal implications for the Republic of that?

This is surely something that deserves probing by the media and `Opposition' parties for the information of us ordinary citizens?

Failing the British Government's speedy restoration of the Good Friday Agreement institutions, Ahern's Government will doubtless shortly be introducing to the Oireachtas an amendment to the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999 in order to remedy the now defective constitutional and legal basis of the North-South implementation bodies set up under that Act?

The National Platform,
24 Crawford Avenue,
Dublin 9

Castlefinn awakes

A Chairde,

Following a well-attended meeting in Castlefinn on Thursday 10 February, local republicans decided to reform a cumann in Castlefinn.

An officer board was elected and all present unanimously voted to adopt the name Kelly/Brolly as the cumann name. As the rúnaí of the cumann, I was delighted by the strong turnout for the meeting and much encouraged by the great interest in republican politics among the youth in the area. Sinn Féin is about giving the ordinary people a real voice and we will be challenging the main parties both at local and national level at every opportunity.

John McCloskey,
County Donegal


A Chairde,

I am writing to express my disillusionment with the current state of the Good Friday Agreement. We are continually told on radio that the only part of this Agreement not as yet implemented is the decommisioning of IRA guns. This is blatantly untrue. We have yet to hear about the criminal justice review, scaling down of British occupation forces not to mention legally held weaponry in the hands of loyalists. There is a huge amount of incorrect information in the media at the moment, most of it directed against the republican movement. We only have to look at last Friday's Late Late Show to see the depth of misunderstanding the Irish people have in regard to republicans and most of it emanates from blatant anti-republican propaganda.

Ciarán Ó Dochartaigh
Co Dún na nGall

Democracy and hypocrisy

A Chairde

The stench of hypocrisy hangs in the air over Downing Street and the Northern Ireland Office. How dare these people lecture republicans on ``democracy''. I may be simplistic, but I always thought that ``democracy'' means putting into practice the will of the majority of the people.

Over 70% of people in Ireland North and South supported the Good Friday Agreement. So Mandelson in his recently acquired wisdom, on behalf of the British Government, reneges on the Agreement and suspends the Assembly, which is supported by over 70% of the people. Democracy in action?

Why does he do this? He does it because David Trimble has said he would resign if there is no decommissioning by the time of his Ulster Unionist Council meeting. Trimble, not wanting to lose face, or the limelight, decided to play the ``Orange Card'', or rather the whole pack at this juncture. He who calls himself a democrat is prepared to wreck the Assembly and risk the whole peace process against the wishes of the majority of people. He would rather do this than share government with republicans and nationalists. If it wasn't decommissioning, it would be something else. He is behaving as many unionist leaders before him: ``If you don't play my way I'm taking my ball home''.

We all need to remind Mandelson and Blair that the man they are supporting is a member of the Orange Order. How can this man be a democrat when the organisation he belongs to exists to maintain Protestant supremacy?

As Tony Benn said in Westminster last week, British rule in Ireland has failed. The situation needs total demilitarisation from all sides including the British army. Perhaps it is time that Britain left the Irish to build their own future.

Mary Pearson
Troops Out Movement

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1