GE2020 should mark the end of the 22-year period of wilful forgetfulness by the leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and many Irish political commentators since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, lest the latter become known as the peace process for slow learners.
They would do well to listen back to Ian Paisley’s inaugural speech as First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly in May 2007 when, among other notable positive words, he quoted the biblical King Solomon thus:
“To everything there is a season
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time of war and a time of peace.”
The peace process was good enough for that macho man of sectarianism, who became in his double act with Martin McGuinness, a sign of hope for many. But not it seems for the leaders of the 1922 civil war parties and their supportive commentariat in the media who frantically cling to irrelevant, distracting clichés. How long must Mary Lou Mc Donald be expected to say that ‘the war is over’? Former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Sir Patrick Mayhew et al declared so back in the 1990s and Ian Paisley confirmed it in 2007.
The utterances and statements by FF and FG leaders blithely dismiss the reality of a successful peace process to which Sinn Féin has substantially contributed. The process has not been perfect careful politics and diplomacy will be needed to sustain it post- Brexit.
This wilful forgetfulness is also deeply contradictory as successive governments have been implicit in supporting imperialist wars abroad for the last 19 years — unnecessary and futile wars with hundreds of thousands of people killed and maimed. Wars in which men, women and children were wilfully bombed in multiple countries by the US military or its proxies have been shamefully supported by successive Irish governments through the facilitation at Shannon Airport.
Ireland’s eroded neutrality is yet another reason to seek a new peace-inducing government. Sinn Féin has at least proposed a policy of positive neutrality and it is to be hoped that any coalition government it would lead, would both sustain and copper-fasten the peace process on this island and assist in making peace abroad. If successful in forming such a Government it should signal such peaceful intentions of positive neutrality by promptly closing the Shannon War Port.
Irish Anti-War Movement
PO Box 9260