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.

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