David Trimble leads the comment on the Government state with his own article in the Daily Telegraph this morning. He suggests that Reid’s words are a hint of positive action, but that it falls short of specific action to be taken against breaches of the various ceasefires. Towards the end he questions Sinn Fein’s commitment to the Belfast Agreement:
“Sinn Fein has committed itself only to an abstract version of the agreement. It refuses to address the responsibilities of making it work in practice. The republican movement has a history of commitment to abstractions. Its commitment to the abstraction of Irish unity has caused vast pain and suffering. The consequence of its present position is communal polarisation. It is likely to lead to the collapse of devolved institutions.”
“The Government needs to save Sinn Fein from itself, by compelling it to face political reality. There is no victimless crime; there is also no power without responsibility.”
On the ‘locked up website’ of the Irish Times, Frank Millar is worried that Trimble may have been badly outflanked by the Conservatives, who’s spokesman Quentin Davies, accused John Reid of “extraordinary vacuousness” and of merely repeating the same words that the PM had used four years previously. Even the Alliance leader, Mr David Ford said “It is now incumbent on the government to turn these fine words into tough action, otherwise it risks even further damaging its credibility in Northern Ireland,”
Brian Walker on the front page of last night’s Belfast Telegraph is much more bullish in tone, whilst Nigel Morris reckons it is a straightforward ultimatum to Sinn Fein. Other reports from: Irish Independent; The Guardian; CNN; and editorial comment from the FT.