“The peace process was always intended to be about more than an absence of violence…”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin’s criticism of the Irish Government’s ‘complacency’ over Northern Ireland echoes that of the Labour Party’s Vernon Coaker in regard to the UK Government.  And that was more a disagreement on strategy, rather than a difference of opinion on the problems with the NI administration – as outlined in July by former NI Secretary of State, Owen Paterson.  All of which somewhat undermines Louth TD Gerry Adams’ attempted defence of the northern wing of his party.

ANYhoo… the Irish Times has the relevant quotes from Micheál Martin’s Bodenstown address.

“The peace process was always intended to be about more than an absence of violence,” he said.

“The people of the North deserve a political system that delivers progress, that demonstrates that politics works and is about making their lives better.

“Any calm and objective analysis of the performance of the Assembly and Executive over the last year would, very reluctantly, have to question whether they are delivering in these terms.

“There have been notable successes – the Our Time, Our Place [tourism] campaign has been excellent, but we have seen just five pieces of legislation pass through the Assembly and we have seen the news dominated by old parades politics.

“More depressingly, we have also seen things get worse across a range of key indices.

“For example, the North was confirmed as having the highest levels of child poverty in the relevant comparisons, with an average of 28 per cent. West Belfast currently has a staggering 46.2 per cent of children living in poverty.

“Most of the major advances in the peace process required years of work in getting the DUP and Sinn Féin to change their policies. Getting them to accept the principles of the [Belfast] agreement in all their dimensions delayed its full implementation for nearly a decade.

“It is at best foolish and at worst reckless to step back and believe that the DUP and Sinn Féin are capable of working in the interests of all groups. They have constantly shown an interest in putting party interests ahead of broader interests.

“Playing politics and putting their party interest first is a consistent part of [Sinn Féin’s] ideology – something we see every day in the Dáil,” he said. “They have also refused to acknowledge the founding logic of the peace process . . . that the campaign of violence and division was wrong.”

None of which should come as a surprise to anyone…

Adds  See also Mick’s earlier post.