Keeping the peace
FOREIGN Minister Dermot Ahern has set up a conflict resolution unit in his department and asked it to report in the autumn. He has thereby signalled a new stage in Ireland's long-standing involvement in peacekeeping operations worldwide, a stage in which we can use both our domestic and our international experience.
At the domestic level, Irish governments spent decades in the search for conflict resolution in Northern Ireland. Some of the lessons learnt in that process may be applicable elsewhere. More important, perhaps, is that from now on we will expect to give more attention to practical co-operation and less to security issues and devote more resources to other areas.
We have exceptional advantages when we seek to improve peacekeeping methods and the linked diplomatic work through the UN and the EU and in association with non-governmental bodies like aid agencies.
Not only do our diplomats and senior army officers have vast experience, we are almost uniquely trusted by the countries in which the latter had been deployed.
Ireland arouses no suspicion of placing national interests ahead of the peace and stability of those countries. We threaten nobody.
Most of us are proud of our achievements in this field and know that it does not mean a wish to engage in foolish foreign adventures.