The next steps in achieving lasting peace and unity

With Sinn Féin most likely well and truly out of the governmental loop south of the border for the next five years following the recent Dáil elections, I thought it might be helpful to see what Fianna Fáil have on their agenda when it comes to furthering the unification objective.

Fianna Fáil says in its election manifesto (PDF file) that “the achievement of lasting peace and unity on our island remains the most important objective” of the party.

Without peace there would be no prosperity. It is the precious prerequisite for every element of our Nation’s progress. To that end, it is our first priority and prime concern. We stand for Irish unity based on consent and reconciliation. As Ireland’s largest republican and nationalist party we have led the debate on unity, striving to convince all strands of nationalist Ireland that violence only embeds partition and corrodes the republican goal of unity between Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.

The party says it entered the peace process with two goals:

– To bring all elements of nationalist Ireland to our peaceful analysis of partition and Irish unity

– To secure a historic and lasting peace agreement with the unionist people

Fianna Fáil proposes the following “further steps forward for peace and unity” in Ireland:

North/South Co-Operation

– Implement a Comprehensive Study on the All-Island Economy

– Fully operational all-island energy market, to include an all-island approach to the renewable energy sector, a second electricity inter-connector and an all-island gas network

– Introduce a Single Electricity Market by November 2007

– Actively support fully integrated and seamless co-operation in the areas of health, education, infrastructural development, communications, planning and other public services

– Press for a single all-island corporation tax of 12.5%

– Continue to progress the North West Gateway Initiative

On helping Border Communities:

– Press for all-island planning and co-ordination in infrastructural investment across the Island over the next decade, to ensure greater provision of services to border communities

– Establish a cross-border Innovation Fund to support education, skills, science and innovation, energy research, regional development, tourism development, poverty, social inclusion and community infrastructure

– Support the development of cross-border projects including:
The Dublin – Letterkenny/Derry dual carriageway
The Border Corridor
The Ulster Canal
The Bridge at Narrow-Water

– Campaign for the complete removal of North-South cross-border telecoms and bank charges

– Further develop the Dublin-Belfast rail line as part of an integrated rail service serving major population centres, North and South

– Maximise the potential for cross-border cancer services, building on the project to provide services to Donegal

– Support the significant upgrading of higher education capacity in the border region through strategic alliances between education institutions, North and South

– Intensify efforts to promote graduate mobility, graduate retention and access to people from disadvantaged areas to higher education

– Complete the rebuilding of all border crossings destroyed during the Troubles

– Complete the development of Derry Airport, for which the Irish government has already committed almost 11 million

On battling Sectarianism:

– Establish a new Anti-Sectarianism Fund to assist projects in interface areas designed specifically to address the root cause of sectarianism and to diffuse tensions

– Increase the Reconciliation Fund to 35 million to improve dialogue between the nationalist and unionist tradition and develop capacity building amongst communities affected by the Troubles, including a focus on isolated border communities

– Provide additional staff and resources to the British Irish Secretariat to improve monitoring of sectarian incidents throughout the North and improve liaison with the PSNI

– Monitor progress and press for full and timely implementation of the Triennial Programme of the Shared Future

– Review all funding for education and community projects to see where a greater impact can be had on tackling sectarianism

On Policing:

– Monitor the full implementation of the Patten Reforms

– Press for increased Garda – PSNI co-operation including common police training where appropriate

– Provide continued support for the work of the Police Ombudsman

On Demilitarisation:

– Press for the complete implementation of the British Army demilitarisation Programme

– Negotiate for further reductions in troop numbers, beyond the Programme targets

– Fund an international competition for a permanent landmark peace monument to be located in the border region

– Press for the full decommissioning of loyalist and dissident republican weapons