Peace process and the death of moderation?

Mark Mulholland with an interesting quotation from Conor O’Neill’s comparative analysis between Northern Ireland and a future conflict resolution process in Iraq. O’Neill warns that “moderate groups can rapidly haemorrhage support if the perception develops that there is no political penalty for orchestrating violence on the streets”.

This would seem to be borne out by the reversal in fortunes of two of the two major stakeholders at the onset of our own peace process, the SDLP and the UUP. It is a moot point as to whether they inevitably suffered from the continuing existence of paramilitaries during supposedly peaceful periods, or an inability to establish and maintain a grass roots organisation whilst their opponents moderated their own previously extreme political positions.

  • Yank in Ulster

    Yet an important point of contrast is that unlike the situation in Iraq, Northern Ireland benefitted from a massive increase in public expenditure during “The Troubles”. The financial subvention cushioned the NI economy and its moderate middle classes.

    Indeed, conflict management in NI was exercised by government outside NI (i.e. the UK and Ireland), whereas I don’t see the US government exercising such flexiblity or willingness.

    Yet violence does continue to appear to pay in NI, if the British Government’s cozying up to the UDA lately is anything to go by.