Peace process going well

Fintan O’Toole argues in the Irish Times (subs needed) that the peace process is actually going very well.

Starting with a letter an IT reader sent to the paper three weeks after voting for Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald in last June’s European election, where he claimed he was “duped” as his vote was out of recognition of SF’s efforts in the peace process but immediately saw “they haven’t changed at all”, O’Toole goes on to say this wasn’t surprising as

“we had entered an Orwellian world where the way to support peace and democracy was to be nice to those who had most blood on their hands. Lies were creative ambiguity … most of us, to a degree, allowed ourselves to lose our moral bearings.”

O’Toole goes on to say that now we have left our holiday in “Wonderland” the consensus appears to be that the peace process is in trouble.

“Actually, though, the peace process is going very well. It has moved forward, at last, to a point that should have been reached long ago. The journey has passed through a boggy swamp of strategic evasion and reached the hard ground of clarity. The mechanical side of the process – the institutional deal-making – may be going nowhere, but the more important fundamental side – the shifting of perceptions – is making real progress…

…Ten years ago, a photograph of Gerry Adams surrounded by men and women in military uniforms with black berets and sunglasses would hardly have been worth printing. Now, the photographs of the Sinn Fein president at an IRA commemoration in Strabane last weekend scream out the remarkable fact that a would-be Taoiseach still hangs round with a private army. Slowly but surely, a sense of normality has been regained.”

  • Malachy

    a would-be Taoiseach still hangs round with a private army

    Would he be the first Taoiseach who hung out with a private army ?

  • Henry94

    Sean Lemass Eamonn deValera and WT Cosgrave were former IRA members who went on to become Taoiseach. Ministers have included former IRA menbers like Frank Aiken, Proinsias De Rossa and Sean McBride.

    Charlie Haughey and Niel Blaney have often been accused of helping set up the provos. They never sued so by Slugger standards they are guilty.

    Fintan O’Toole famously lost a public debate with the Wolfe Tones on The Late Late Show and is not generally considered a good source of information on the peace process.

  • Jimmy Sands

    The key word here Henry of course being “former”.

  • GavBelfast

    I think judging anybody’s credibility on the strength of how they fared in a “debate” with The Wolfe Tones is an interesting one.

    Who says he lost it anyway? It was the usual, boorish, bar-bore style stuff from the ‘band’, O’Toole was dominated and harrangued more than actally beaten in a fair “debate”.

    The pictures of Adams with his friends (colleagues? don’t look especially odd. Just creepy.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Would-be Taoiseach? How would that work? To be Taoiseach you have to be a member of Dail Eireann – so surely Gerry would have to stand in a constituency south of the border?

    OR, had this been thought of when the issue of northern speaking rights was on the table.

    How would that work if an all-Ireland party won a majority, and that party happened to have a leader from the north? And that leader was a Westminster MP, and therefore had a seat in Dail Eireann but not voting rights?

    An unlikely course of events, certainly, but an interesting constitutional conundrum. Does anyone know any more about this?

  • mucher

    There is nothing to stop Gerry Adams standing for election in the South, if he choose. Bernadette Devlin did so years ago, although unsuccessful. A sitting Sinn Fein T.D. could resign and Adams run for his/her seat. That is what Mary Lou plans to do in a year or two. She will stand down as MEP
    and Nicky Keogh will take her place.

  • George

    Billy,
    from the Oireachtas website

    “The executive power of the State is vested in the Government which is responsible to Dáil Éireann. The Government consists of a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 15 Members. The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Finance must be Members of Dáil Éireann. A rarely used provision in the Constitution permits not more than two Members of Seanad Éireann to be Members of the Government.”

    So Gerry has to get elected to Dáil Éireann first.

  • New Yorker

    Fintan O’Toole is considered in Irish America as a very top class journalist, columnist and critic. No one over here would doubt his fine credentials. And on this issue he is absolutely right, as we say over here, th gig is up; SF/IRA have been unmasked for what they are, which the Minister of Justice described so well. Your new reality is how to get rid of them and present an Ireland to the world that is not run by criminals in the shadows hooked up with men with guns and willing to use them with impunity. That constitutes a society run by criminals and gangsters, which puts you beyond the pale of progressive democracies, not to mention what the leaders of corporations think about making investments in such a lawless friendly place.

  • Malachy

    Fintan O’Toole is considered in Irish America as a very top class journalist, columnist and critic.

    Thanks for the opinion. My guess is that 99.99% of Irish-Americans never heard of him.

  • powerb

    O’Toole was brilliant on Queastions and Answers a few weeks back.

    Yeah, and as for the debate on the Late Late show, that was a complete joke, Fintain was taking it seriously and the Tones were playing to crowd mouthing slogans about “800 years” and the famine and so on. And the Late Late crowd is pretty easy to play.

    “Fintan O’Toole is considered in Irish America as a very top class journalist, columnist and critic.”

    I think most people who have read him would agree.

  • cg

    “That is what Mary Lou plans to do in a year or two. She will stand down as MEP
    and Nicky Keogh will take her place.”

    I would very much doubt if Nicky Keogh is planning on going to Europe when he has an excellent chance of winning a seat in Dublin Central

  • George

    “That constitutes a society run by criminals and gangsters, which puts you beyond the pale of progressive democracies, not to mention what the leaders of corporations think about making investments in such a lawless friendly place”

    Steady on there now Newyorker, that’s a rather large tarring brush you’re using there.

    The Irish Republic has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and even if there is a multi-million euro money laundering syndicate here it hardly means the country is “run by criminals”.

    To put things in perspective, the rest of the economy is worth 150 billion.

    Does the behaviour over Enron mean the United States is run by criminals and gangsters?

  • Rick

    On the topic, I think the article sheds an interesting perspective by saying that the more fundamental shift of perceptions has been the real sign of progress.

    While the December 2004 negotiations to restore devolution in December had failed, they revealed to the world that the unthinkable — DUP and SF sitting together in government — was now possible, and forced those who follow it to picture the possibility. The fact that the endgame remained elusive has shifted the perception, and has cut NI off from the possibility of a return to its widespread Troubled past.

  • James

    Fair enough Rick.

    Wake me when they negotiate within eyesight of one another.