Friday 2 December 2016

North's leaders need to grow up and govern

Why ordinary people in Northern Ireland are fed up with jaded arguments based on historical grievances

Published 20/09/2015 | 02:30

Then taoiseach Bertie Ahern and prime minister Tony Blair meet the media in 1998 after the bones of the Good Friday Agreement were laid out
Then taoiseach Bertie Ahern and prime minister Tony Blair meet the media in 1998 after the bones of the Good Friday Agreement were laid out

RTÉ's Tommy Gorman is back on our screens every evening these days, against the familiar backdrop of Stormont. His task, for which he retains admirable enthusiasm, is the painstaking analysis of the never-ending fluctuations in the peace process. Like a political weather man, he forecasts and assesses the depth and gravity of the most recent crisis in Northern Ireland.

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The project of ending conflict and bedding down peace in the North has been a protracted affair. Although the Good Friday Agreement was finalised at Easter 1998, it took almost ten years for the power sharing Executive to stabilise and for arms to be decommissioned. Since then, the functioning of the devolved institutions has been erratic and peppered with frequent discord between unionists and republicans.

The governments have been called in regularly to resolve stand-offs. The Americans, too, have invested enormous time and advice in helping to overcome difficulties. The Haass proposals published after lengthy consultation and mediation two years ago about flags, parades and how to deal with the "past" were ultimately rejected despite containing some excellent ideas, particularly on victims.

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