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11 January 2001 Edition

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Orange Card must be trumped

When it comes to deciding what issues are of most importance to the Peace Process, the British government seem to gravitate towards one in particular.

No, it's not decommissioning, nor is it policing or demilitarisation. And it certainly isn't human rights or the equality agenda.

It's something that wasn't written in as a fundamental clause of the Good Friday Agreement, yet they insist on elevating it to the level of a principle.

What? You haven't a clue?

It's saving David Trimble's political career of course.

While they undoubtedly have their own strategic interests, guided by the bull-headed lobby of the British military establishment, they always return to the same old mantra - `poor David, what on earth would we do without him?'

The latest rendition of that mantra has found its form in attempts by the British Government to cajole the SDLP into supporting Peter Mandelson's flawed Police Bill. The basis of their argument is that Trimble might find it `impossible' to remain in the Six-County Executive, if they don't give it their support.

What incredible nonsense.

The Good Friday Agreement received the support of over two million people here, yet we are told that the delivery of that Agreement is predicated on the meanderings of David Trimble's political career.

The Patten Report, though falling short of the new beginning envisaged by republicans, was a means to make substantial progress on the policing issue and was recognised as such not only by Sinn Féin but also by the SDLP, the Dublin government, various human rights bodies and a whole swathe of Irish and international political opinion. Yet again we are told that its implementation, because it may endanger Trimble's political life, is impossible.

The time has come for an end to this charade.

Sinn Féin this week initiated a new round of talks with the London and Dublin governments. The party's focus will remain on the Good Friday Agreement and the people whose interests it is supposed to serve.

Again, it is up to the British Government to fulfill its commitments and to admonish rather than support Trimble for stepping outside the Agreement.

If they persist in vetoing progress at the behest of unreasonable demands from unionists, the greatest opportunity yet for a just and lasting peace in Ireland will be lost.

An Phoblacht Magazine

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