Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

'After appearance at GAA event can the DUP now walk Robinson's talk?'

Peter Robinson with Ulster GAA chair Martin McAviney, secretary of Ulster GAA Danny Murphy and Tyrone boss Mickey Harte

Peter Robinson spoke about our present and future at a dinner celebrating the GAA's achievements last Thursday.

It was interesting. He exhorted the DUP to reach out; said we all need to extend the hand of friendship; and called for partnership and reconciliation.

He cautioned against fighting old battles and danger of a cold peace. He also called for civility in politics, and asserted the need for mutual political and cultural respect.

Against a backdrop of eighteen months of poor unionist leadership, sectarian street violence and reneging on the Maze/Long Kesh, these remarks were welcome.

The peace process teaches us all lessons.

Equality, respect and parity of esteem establish the standard for how we must move forward. They set a test for all parties.

Sinn Féin is willing to be tested on our commitment to these principles, again and again.

By stepping onto the common ground of Good Friday Agreement principles, Peter Robinson, perhaps unwittingly, set a test for his own party.

Whether the DUP, and other unionists, can give the same guarantee as Sinn Féin to equality and partnership will be tested in the coming days and weeks.

How they respond is now fundamental to the viability of power sharing and partnership.

Civility, respect and equality must be absolutely central to our peace and political processes.

Otherwise politics becomes a sham.

There is no alternative to equality and reconciliation.

None of us should let ourselves become paralysed, or frightened by the past, present or future.

Peter Robinson has said he’s up for going forward. He knows the problems to be solved.

That will only happen through commitment to real partnership.

Let’s hope others in the DUP agree with him.

After the talk, the question is, can they walk the walk?

We will know soon enough.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk