|VOTING FOR PEACE
Will the political peace in Northern Ireland hold?
June 4, 1998
in this forum:
Can the new agreement deal with violence in the streets? How is the Assembly election shaping up? How key is voter participation to the viability of the peace agreement? Will this Assembly be able to make the day-to-day decisions? How will outside influences (UK, Ireland, U.S.) affect the Assembly? Liam Hennessey of London, UK asks: With the renewal of violence this last weekend, we can see that there is still an enormous amount of tension between the communities. Do you think the Assembly will be able to survive a spate of violence or protests? Given the lack of a coherent message when it comes to who will control the police, security forces, etc., isn't the whole peace on tenuous ground?
Joe Carroll, of the Irish Times, responds:
In theory the Assembly should be able to survive violent incidents if they come from the maverick paramilitary groups and not from the paramilitaries who se political wings are represented in the Assembly. These are Sinn Fein, the UDP and the PUP. If the latter groups end their cease-fires and return to violence, their political wings would have to leave the Assembly and it is hard to see it able to continue in those circumstances.
Yes, the whole peace is still on tenuous grounds. Policing, decommissioning of weapons and the cross-border bodies are three areas where sharp disagreements between the unionist and nationalist communities are likely to occur. But they can be solved if the will and trust are there.