Overwhelming support for Dáil motion

As RTE, somewhat briefly, notes – “Dáil deputies approved a motion last night calling on republicans to end criminality and paramilitarism and to commit themselves to arms decommissioning. The measure was supported by all the main parties.”The Irish Examiner has, as part of a report on the Whitehouse invitations, some more details on the debate

Mr McDowell, in a speech that referred to Des O’Malley’s “I stand by the Republic” speech, contended a tiny group of secret paramilitaries would not be allowed to usurp the rights and authority conferred by the Good Friday Agreement.

He refuted the claim that he was “unenthusiastic” about the peace process, saying he stood fully behind the Agreement.

He said the Government did not seek to exclude, marginalise or criminalise anybody, but Sinn Féin inflicted the situation on itself by extortion, punishment beatings, armed robbery, exiling under threat, murder and attempted murder.[my emphasis]

Sinn Fein’s Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin lashed the Fine Gael motion as “ham-fisted” and accused the party of failing to understand the complexities of the peace process.

“I wish to put on record our absolute refutation of all the false accusations of criminality made against our party,” he said

The motion was passed without going to a vote as not enough TDs opposed the measure, but Sinn Féin’s five TDs were supported in challenging the proposal by independent TDs Seamus Healy, Tony Gregory and Joe Higgins.”

According to the Irish Times, there was one other TD in opposition to the motion, Finian McGrath (Independent, Dublin North Central), and the report quotes Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin opposing the motion, falling back on the overly-familiar accusation of “anti-republican” in his opposition to the motion –

It is sad that so many in this House are so blinded by their anti-republican prejudice that they cannot acknowledge or understand the enormity of what the IRA was on the point of delivering at that time, including putting all arms beyond use by the end of 2004,” he said.[my emphasis]

“Instead of building on that the governments allowed the agenda to be set by rejectionist unionism and thus created the impasse we have today.”

The agreed motion was published yesterday in the Irish Times

“That Dáil Éireann recognises the primacy of the Good Friday Agreement and the importance of both Governments continuing to protect and develop its achievements;

welcomes the progress made to date towards the full implementation of a broad range of commitments made in the Good Friday Agreement; welcomes the continuation of cross-party support in the House for the peace process;

reaffirms its view that this agreement must form the basis of a lasting settlement in Northern Ireland;

welcomes the progress represented by the proposals of the British and Irish Governments, published in December 2004, towards achieving a complete resolution of the key issues identified by the Taoiseach and Prime Minister Blair at Lancaster House in June 2004;

regrets that there was no agreement at that time in relation to two key issues, namely an end to all forms of paramilitary and criminal activity and decommissioning;

notes that all parties to the agreement undertook to pursue their political objectives by exclusively peaceful and democratic means, and that the agreement envisaged full decommissioning of all paramilitary arms within two years;

notes the damage which has been done to the peace process by ongoing criminality including the recent robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast and the assessment of the Irish and British authorities that the Provisional IRA was responsible for these crimes;

notes that a report by the International Monitoring Commission regarding ongoing paramilitary and criminal activity will shortly be published;

emphasises that there can be no room in a genuine peace process after 10 years of engagement for threats of whatever kind; rejects recent comments by Sinn Féin spokespersons as to what constitutes criminality;[my emphasis]

underlines the need for a responsible and calm debate of the current difficulties in the peace process;

notes the clearly expressed views of the Irish people that all paramilitary activity and criminality be permanently brought to an end; believes that with a resolution of current difficulties the restoration of the devolved institutions and the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement is achievable;

welcomes the continuing and valued support of the President of the United States; notes the determination of the two governments to maintain dialogue with all the Northern Ireland political parties; welcomes the Taoiseach’s recent statement that the question regarding the early release of the murderers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe was no longer on the table; and expresses its full support for the ongoing efforts of the two governments to bring to completion full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.”