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Time to Conclude NI Process



David Adams • Irish Times, 13 October 2006

At an exclusive seaside resort in Scotland, the pampered and over-indulged political representatives of a prosperous and well-educated people have been meeting this week to try to agree the formation of a post-conflict, power-sharing administration.

Despite ceasefires having been in place since 1994 and the endorsement of a comprehensive agreement by 71 per cent of their electorate in 1998, the political leaders have failed to work together for any sustained period.

For more than a decade, prime ministers, presidents and the world's media have danced attendance on these leaders and their tiny province of two million people on the western fringe of Europe.

As an incentive to political development, a vast amount of money has been pumped into the local economy (and has all but disappeared without trace), but to no avail.

Realistically, the best that can be hoped for from this latest round of talks are further promises that an administration will be formed at some time in the future.

Despite threats to the contrary, this will probably ensure that the politicians and their constituency continue receiving the world attention and financial inducements to which they have become all too accustomed.

Those are the harsh, unadorned, realities of the Northern Ireland peace process.

Self-evidently, for far too long the real incentive has been to string out the process, not conclude it.

To realise how over-indulged Northern Ireland actually is, one need only consider the recent history of similarly-sized Macedonia.

A multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and religiously diverse society, Macedonia has had to cope with the immediate fallout from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, of which it was part.

Though it remained relatively peaceful during the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s, the destabilising effect of an influx of 360,000 ethnic Albanian refugees from the Kosovo war in 1999 caused Macedonia to suffer a period of sustained inter-ethnic violence.

Despite being faced with problems of enormous complexity, Macedonia's elected representatives have managed to forge their own political agreement, push ahead with democratic elections, and form a representative administration - all without a fraction of the outside assistance Northern Ireland has received.

To realise how, internationally, Northern Ireland continues to be afforded a political and media significance far above what the situation here merits - or arguably has ever merited - one need only consider some of the real and potential crises that the world currently faces.

To a frightening degree, some of the most unpredictable (and in a few cases, all but indecipherable) regimes on the planet now have, or are well on their way to developing, the means to inflict death and destruction on a catastrophic scale.

This week, the virtual prison-state of communist North Korea announced that it had successfully tested its first nuclear weapon. From what we know of North Korea, it could be modelled on the fictional Oceania of Orwell's 1984.

Underpinned by the leadership cult of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il, its paranoiac and totalitarian regime tolerates no dissent.

It exercises complete state control over all media outlets, has an estimated 200,000 political prisoners, and uses torture, public executions and slave labour to keep its population of 23 million in check.

North Korea also has one of the world's largest standing armies and is still technically at war with neighbouring South Korea.

Tensions between the nuclear-equipped neighbours of Pakistan and India have eased somewhat in recent times, but the dispute over Kashmir that has brought them to war three times previously, remains unresolved.

Israel, yet another nuclear power, exists in a perpetual state of siege, surrounded by real and perceived enemies.

The Israeli-Palestinian (and by extension Israeli-Arab) conflict continues to fester and destabilise the entire Middle East region.

The Israel- and West-hating regime in Iran, led by the religious zealot President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is pressing ahead with the development of its own nuclear programme.

Not only has Ahmadinejad questioned whether the Holocaust ever happened, much more ominously, he has also called for the "elimination" of Israel.

That all of these nations possess, or are in the throes of developing, nuclear programmes is unsettling enough - that they are currently involved in disputes of one kind or another with neighbouring states and beyond is frightening.

At a more "conventional" level, there is no end in sight to the war in Afghanistan or the almost daily slaughter of innocents and combatants in Iraq.It is against that backdrop of real and potential human tragedy on an unimaginable scale, that Northern Ireland receives special treatment. It really is time we began to put things in perspective.

Reprinted with permission from the author.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

16 October 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Friday the 13th — The Most Terrifying Deal Ever Done!
Tom Luby

Black Friday
Anthony McIntyre

When No Means Yes
Dr John Coulter

Blowin' In The Wind
John Kennedy

Time to Conclude NI Process
David Adams

Once Bitten
Anthony McIntyre

Dysfunctional Family Values
Mick Hall

Racism: The Social Uniter?
Dr John Coulter

Nobody Home
John Kennedy

'The Revolution is the People'
Jane Horgan-Jones

10 October 2006

Hail The Messiah
Anthony McIntyre

HET: History of Whitewash Continues
Martin Galvin

To Deal or Not
Martin Ingram

One Small Step for Paisley, One Giant Step for Ireland?
Dr John Coulter

The Haunting
John Kennedy

Subversion of an Irish Peace Plan
Brian Wardlow

Working Class Hero
Mick Hall

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 15 - 22
Michael Gillespie

John Kennedy

Racism: The Social Cancer
Dr John Coulter

Forced Out
Anthony McIntyre

The Letters Page Has Been Updated.



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