He talks about decommissioning and policing in relation to the Belfast Agreement:
“‘There was a deliberate decision not to try and resolve policing and weapons decommissioning in the peace talks themselves,’ he says. ‘If we had attempted to solve these issues during the talks, the chances that we would have an agreement were practically nonexistent. We’ve had a difficult decision to make, because it was pretty clear from the text that while there was commitment for decommissioning, the link between that and upholding office [in the Northern Ireland executive] was very weak. We had our doubts whether it would be of any practical value.’
And the failure?
The most crucial part of the agreement was a two-year period of weapons decommissioning, which was to parallel two years of prisoner release. There was no expressed linkage between the two, but there was an implicit linkage. Many of us believe that the British government, by implementing the agreement, has made a huge strategic error, in that it went ahead, implementing the prisoner-release scheme without being more explicit in the linkage. If they had done it – and they could have – the story of the last couple of years would have been radically different.
Previously personal paradox