Friday, 29 August 2014

FROM PEACE PROCESS TO IRISH SETTLEMENT PROCESS






Speaking with many people from across the political divide in Ireland currently , the general consensus privately, is that Irish Peace Process, is currently dying a slow death. One of its principal architects Gerry Adams in a statement recently stated, “The political process is in trouble. I believe that the political process faces its greatest challenge since the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998. The anti-Good Friday Agreement axis within unionism; the pro-unionist stance of the British secretary of state Theresa Villiers; the refusal of Downing Street to honour its own obligations, are combining to create the most serious threat to the political institutions in the North in recent years.

“The result of all this is directly undermining power-sharing and partnership government. The unionist leaderships have been encouraged in their posture by a British government that has not been fully engaged with the political process for four years.” He added, that traditional pro-British Unionist were unwilling to participate positively in any of the Agreement's institutions, stating that “Instead it has adopted a tactical approach aimed at serving the political agenda of a fundamentalist rump in their party rather than the needs of the whole community,”

Again yesterday, Adams made a veiled attack, on the current Fine Gael regime in Government in the South of Ireland, which has traditionally protected the Unionists in the North, stating, "An anti-agreement axis has now emerged. There needs to be a pro-agreement axis and the two Governments need to be very, very focused on delivering on the agreement.” 

The Irish Government has been too passive in my view and the Taoiseach(Irish Prime minister) could well emulate the example of Albert Reynolds (Another Peace Process architect who died last week)  to get involved and press ahead but particularly to keep the British Government to its obligations.”

The traditional Unionist Leader in the north Peter Robinson statement in reply, "Once more we see the self-serving attempt by Sinn Fein to distract public attention from real problems by blaming everyone, except itself, for what it asserts is a crisis that impacts on the political institutions."

Last week Hilary Clinton 's aide “Today, too many in Ireland take two decades of a ceasefire for granted. They still focus on their own sense of victimhood of the past and fail to forge a new united community that can not only solidify the peace, but even build shared prosperity. A look back at the hard-fought ceasefire may encourage some broader thinking about the responsibility of leadership to build a better shared future for the people of Ireland.”

The British Conservative Government and their Vice Royal in Ireland, since coming to power, other than enforcing a heavy censorship of international media coverage of the ongoing low intensity war In Occupied Ireland, have irresponsibly taken a hands off approach with the Peace Process and essentially have failed to understand the critical small print of the dying Good Friday agreement.

In a recent statement the leader of Republican Sinn Fein, the traditional  Irish Republican voice, leader Des Dalton stated, "We are being asked to abandon the high ideals, that inspired that revolutionary generation of a century ago and instead embrace the mythology of empire. It is evident that in the decade of centenaries, the political establishments of Leinster House, Stormont and Westminster, are determined to draw a line under Irish history. By demonising and isolating Irish Republicanism and refusing it access to public debate, they hope, that it will simply fade from the public consciousness, robbed of historical or political legitimacy. Quoting from a Ronan Fanning article in the Irish Times, he added,  “…the propagation of a bland, bloodless, bowdlerised and inaccurate hybrid of history, which if carried to extremes, is more likely to provoke political outrage than to command intellectual respect, let alone consensus.”

The Freemasonry of the Orange Order are now front and centre in Unionist, Fine Gael and British politics. Its Chaplain, Rev Mervyn Gibson, the most influential person in all-party talks on flags, parading and the past, is even more influential after the DUP and UUP scuttled the talks by the recent US Government to try move the dying process on, with its envoys Richard Haas and Meghan Sullivan sent packing by the Orange Order, exercising its trump card, the Orange veto.This is one of many critical factors, that was not dealt with by The Peace process. Another was the issue of large numbers of political prisoners still languishing in British Gaols, in both parts of Ireland. This threatens to explode again at any moment, in the same way that, the Hunger Strike of Bobby Sands and the 11 other Irish Republicans, who starved to death on Hunger Strike, changing the face of Irish politics and giving the platform to Adams voice, to be serious player he now is in Irish politics.


Now however, as the Orange Order have demonstrated themselves to be the real voice of traditional Unionism, while  Adams clearly does not speak for traditional Irish Republicans. What Nancy Soderberg and the British Conservative Party in London have failed to grasp, is that the Good Friday Agreement will not stick, without a proper foundation, in the context of both the Orange and Green traditions of Ireland. These traditions are deep in the psyche of the majority of Irish people's consciousness. One of the principal lessons of the last 800 years of irish History which Ms Soderberg in the context of Ireland and many American citizens in the context of their own short history, fail to understand is "Old Europe."


In light of all of this, one does not have to be particularly bright to observe, that the Peace Process is past its sell by date on the ground in Ireland. It clearly needs to evolve into something more comprehensive and inclusive with respect to the matter of Orange/Green traditions and their real voices. Clearly again for a more permanent solution, the "Peace Process needs to evolve from a superficially contrived short term solution into a bedded down Comprehensive Settlement Process


Settlement Process


The English Oxford dictionary  defines "settlement"as "An official agreement intended to resolve a dispute or conflict." Obviously in any permanent settlement, compromise is critical and nobody is going to achieve their ideals.This needs to be first accepted by everyone at the negotiating table, however painful.The alternative is a war for total victory, the consequence of which, no sane mind can countenance. Most fair minded traditional Irish republicans will acknowledge, that the Orange tradition has made considerable sacrifices, with respect to their identity, particularly in the context of both World Wars and the recent ongoing war in Ireland, with tens of thousands losing their lives in all of this.This is a considerable factor in their tradition and identity. Any agreement that ignores this reality is doomed.


Likewise within the "green tradition" millions of Irish have died, as a result of British colonialism. This reality cannot simply be airbrushed out of Irish history by revisionism because it is deeply embedded, consciously or unconsciously, within the Irish psyche, on the same scale as the Jewish Holocaust is with Israelites. It also must be addressed within any credible settlement.There are  many other pressing, critical social issues within Ireland, such as a Bill of Civil Rights, People before Profit, transparent genuine Immediate Democracy, with modern technology, such as the internet democracy, with checks and balances, that ensure ordinary people have real voting power against unregulated Corporate monopolies hijacking the constitutional process with political bribery and the current endemic corruption of the present sytem, in all parts of Ireland


To any objective political view, of the small island of Ireland, with its current political realities, it is crystal clear, that a Federal solution similar to many other European countries, is really the only feasible solution to the current reality with an arrangement where Unionists in Ulster keep their identity and traditions, within a British Commonwealth arrangement, customized specifically to facilitate their specific traditions and arrangements and possibly protect them along with their British brethren form the creeping, fascist monopoly of Europe. This of course will be anathema to many traditional Irish republicans, but it will take compromise, fair mindedness and sacrifice, in any credible settlement, that is based on reality, as opposed to the horrific alternative.

Of course many will argue, that the changing demographics on the ground will change this, but in a Spirit of true reconciliation all minorities, including immigrant aspirations, must be respected in any genuine modern democracy. Traditional Irish Republicans like Ruarai O'Bradaigh, recognized this and presented drafts for a comprehensive agreement that factored in much of this compromise, in a Spirit of Genorosity, which has traditionally been a much acclaimed Irish characteristic, at least until recently. It is time for everyone to get real, put their ego's and personalities to one side and make this comprehensive, inclusive, settlement a reality, based on civilized principles of human progress.

The author formally does not belong to any political organization and offers this proposal in a spirit of unity not division. Because of fascist censorship in Ireland presently, I also ask  those readers who agree with the outlines of this proposal, to share it wherever you can. If you belong to a political party, trade union or political forum or platform, please take up this proposal and make it as inclusive as possible. If you are overseas or non Irish, we still need your help for a comprehensive, inclusive settlement.

by Brian Clarke
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