Belfast Telegraph

Monday 30 November 2015

British Labour Party should spell out strategy for consolidating the political and peace processes

By Declan Kearney

Published 27/02/2014

Labour leader Ed Miliband
Labour leader Ed Miliband

Sinn Fein has said for some time that this British Government is strategically disengaged from the Peace Process. Theresa Villiers denies that’s the case, and takes cover behind superficial contact with the parties here.

The British Labour Party has accurately pointed out that the current administration is in clear default of its joint responsibility to guarantee the terms of the Good Friday and other agreements.

Meanwhile, this government has been very politically engaged…doing all the wrong things.

That has become most obvious through its failure to unambiguously support the Haass compromises and call for their implementation.

Recent comments and interventions by British Government politicians and officials which fail to concentrate minds on the need to embrace the Haass proposals are unhelpful and counterproductive. These will deepen the current political impasse, reinforce political unionists’ intransigence, and energise the orange and unionist extremists wedded to a wreckers’ agenda.

Sinn Féin endorsed the Haass compromises because they represent the best way forward. The Irish Government agrees, and the US administration shares that position.

The British Labour Party said recently that the outcome of the Haass process offers the basis for a positive way forward. Labour’s previous and current spokespersons on the north, Vernon Coaker and Ivan Lewis, have criticised this British government’s role. Both have argued that the Conservatives must engage much more directly and positively in support of the peace process.

Their political assessments are correct.

All parties will set out their programmes for next year’s Westminster General Election. Labour has a deserved legacy for its stewardship of the peace process and role in achieving the GFA.

Against the backdrop of the Conservative’s strategic disengagement, unionist intransigence, and with sectarian extremists attempting to exert a veto on progress, it is essential that Labour stands with rest of us in support of the Peace Process.

It should continue to disassociate itself from Conservative acquiescence in the undermining of the power-sharing institutions by a sectarian minority, and immediately spell out its strategy for stabilising the political and Peace processes.

The implementation of the Haass compromises can help consolidate the Peace Process. That is an agenda which commands popular support both in Ireland and Britain.


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