David Cameron's strategy towards Ireland is a reminder of John Major's government’s role - it almost undermined the Peace Process
However Gerry Adams detention and release is viewed, and many have done so with either bewilderment or suspicion, it brought into stark relief for many citizens the fragility of the Peace and political processes.
This and other recent events demonstrates that unless fresh momentum is reintroduced by the British and Irish governments to the management of the political situation, and with support from the US administration, the legacy of our unresolved past will continue to damage the potential for political stability and progress in the future.
Sinn Féin has tried for a very long time to arrange a direct meeting with David Cameron. Since January alone three requests have been made and all have been ignored. Last week it emerged that a full DUP delegation met Cameron in Downing Street. Presumably there was high level contact with other government figures beforehand.
The increasingly partisan and pro-unionist stance of this British government explains why it has reneged on its responsibility to act as a co-guarantor for the Peace Process; and provides no reassurance that it is prepared to be even-handed or balanced in managing the huge political challenges to be faced.
It indicates a definite symmetry in strategic thinking towards the north between the Conservative cabinet and those elements within the British state system which oppose dealing with the past, because they refuse to accept responsibility for their forces’ actions during the conflict. These individuals and agencies represent a “dark side”, exerting a toxic influence over political progress here.
Dealing collectively with the past; developing an authentic reconciliation process; and designing an economic reconstruction plan for the north, with a scaffolding of economic measures to support political stability; are inescapable and essential priorities.
Unless urgent political action is now taken to properly address the current impasse a political vacuum will develop. That must be avoided.
A strategy for dealing with the past is absolutely central to managing the process of change in the north. Continued failure to do so is energising both unionist and nationalist extremists opposed to the Peace Process and power sharing.
No alternative exists to unambiguous support for and implementation of the Haass compromise proposals.
David Cameron’s strategy towards Ireland is a reminder of John Major’s government’s role in the 1990s. It almost undermined the slowly building Peace Process.
This Conservative administration’s behaviour must not be allowed to undermine the potential for the required new phase of the Peace Process, based upon equality, reconciliation and economic recovery.