Friday 9 December 2016

Good riddance to a decade of backward steps

We began the millennium hopeful, but we have since endured 10 years of conflict and humiliation, writes Ivor Roberts

Ivor Roberts

Published 10/01/2010 | 05:00

ONE of the more enjoyable moments of the last 12 months has been the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. That ushered in an age of hope: the end of communism; the Cold War, the peace dividend; bliss was it in that dawn to be alive . . . but the Nineties turned out to be anything but blissful, as nationalism in Eastern Europe emerged at its most toxic in former Yugoslavia and genocide killed more than a million in Rwanda.

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We nonetheless emerged hopeful into the new millennium (for me it was my first year as British ambassador in Dublin) with the threat of the 'millennium bug' as the main preoccupation. The ink on the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was barely dry and there was a spring in the step at the thought that power-sharing would soon bring a devolved administration in Northern Ireland. Well, there were, in fact, many problems just behind the headlines 10 years ago. But what has been so depressing in the last decade is the scant progress we have made to resolve them and how substantially we have added to the list.

The course of the GFA hasn't run smoothly. Even now, Sinn Fein is threatening dire consequences if justice and policing are not promptly devolved, and this against a background of dissident republican murders in Antrim and Lurgan.

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