Time for statesmen to shore up peace
Published 27/08/2015 | 02:30
Consequences are for facing not for running away from. The murders of Robert McCartney and Jock Davison jolted the peace process. The murder of Kevin McGuigan rocked it to its foundations ever since the PSNI linked it to the IRA.
Watching events unfold since has been a bit like watching a train-wreck from a distance. Only there was one crucial difference; quick and immediate leadership North and South could have made a difference.
Instead of the politicians taking ownership of the deteriorating political situation, the situation took ownership of the politicians. Now another Humpty Dumpty scenario hangs over the future of Stormont, with the UUP pulling out and the DUP likely to follow suit. So who will pick up the pieces and put something meaningful back together again, without the glue of trust and co-operation?
When the Good Friday Agreement was signed almost two decades ago, the fiction that the IRA had walked off into the sunset was indulged in the interests of securing a lasting peace. Everyone knew this was not quite so, but constructive ambiguity was required to bring the hardliners in from the cold.
The IRA was given a grace period. But that was a long time ago. Just like you can't be a bit pregnant, you can't be a bit of a democrat. There are no grey areas. There was never a dispensation for murder, drug-running and diesel-laundering. Nor was indulging or turning a blind eye to an acceptable level of violence part of a peace mandate. There can be no licence for gunmen flouting the law, to grant one would be tantamount to state-sponsored terrorism.
The time for indulging paramilitaries has passed. The future is in the hands of the politicians but how safe those hands are has come into question over recent days.
Yesterday Mr Adams intimated that his party has "no special, or particular or specific responsibility" to respond to allegations made about the IRA. "There is nothing more Sinn Féin can do," he added. But in the interests of protecting life and a delicate peace, there is always more to be done. Once more the Northern Executive is on the verge of collapse. For years, politicians in the North petitioned for the right to govern themselves. Public office is not like a yo-yo that can be shortened or lengthened at the turn of a hand. It carries a responsibility. It behoves all with an interest in democracy to live up to their commitments and show they are actual, as opposed to à la carte, statesmen.
Tragedy strikes once again in farming world
The death of a 14-year-old boy is the latest heart-breaking reminder that farming is the most dangerous occupation in Ireland. The boy died in a tragic accident involving a tractor.
The number of farming deaths has doubled since last year with the total passing 30 fatalities, including five children. This is an especially busy time on the farms and in rural communities as farmers enter a high-pressure period. The latest death will be felt keenly in the closely-knit world of Irish agriculture.
Last year was the fifth successive year that the agriculture sector recorded the highest number of deaths.
The urgency of getting the message of extra caution from the classroom to the farm gate could hardly be more pressing.