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One good thing

I have nothing against FF leader Micheal Martin, and he is liked and respected. Yet, he hardly had a leg to stand on when he criticised previous FF leader Bertie Ahern -- Taoiseach for a very successful 10 years -- for his lack of ethics in office.

Bertie had his weaknesses as leader, that is true, but he did enormous work on the peace process, like previous FF leader and Taoiseach Albert Reynolds before him.

FF could do it in a way that FG couldn't. When Mr Reynolds and British PM John Major successfully brokered a ceasefire with republicans in the early 1990s, all their hard work behind the scenes for years was almost ruined, when FG succeeded FF in government and within a year the ceasefire was over, as the then FG leader did not have the same skill and wisdom as Albert.

FF in the 1990s did great work in bringing all sides in the North to the negotiating table. Once FG was gone again out of government, Mr Ahern took over where Albert left off and got the peace process going again.

FF can at least be praised for that -- silencing the major paramilitary guns in Northern Ireland.

It didn't do it alone. Many across the divide in Northern Ireland met with Mr Reynolds and his adviser Martin Mansergh. Mr Major already had a good relationship with Mr Reynolds, before he became Taoiseach -- when they were both ministers for finance.

When John Major was new in his finance job and getting used to the EU, he asked Mr Reynolds could he give him a handle on it. Mr Reynolds replied that it was like racing, 11 to 1 (with 11 out of a total 12 countries in the EU at the time usually being against Britain) but he would support Mr Major if he or the Irish government agreed with the British government on different EU issues, and improve the odds to 10 to 2.

Mr Major laughed and said that was the best introduction he ever heard. The seeds were sown for a friendship for the arduous years to come to broker a NI peace agreement.

To see Micheal Martin criticising Bertie Ahern shows how politics is a rum business. And I am just a member of the public looking on, but I do think the peace process and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement were major accomplishments that FF can be proud of.

M Sullivan
College Road, Cork

Irish Independent