|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? Aaron Gaudio of Corvallis, OR asks: Your guest, Joe Carroll, is quoted as saying "... Bertie Ahern will stay out of the picture...But I don't think Tony Blair will stay out of the picture." Aside from the balances within the councils themselves, how will the powers influencing the councils (and the people they represent) from outside balance out?
If the councils deal primarily with English representative such as Tony Blair and the English Parliament, then is there a danger of the Republicans seeing this as an English-dominated coalition and thus be tempted to pull away from it?
Joe Carroll, of the Irish Times, responds:
When I said that Tony Blair would not stay out of the picture I was referring to the election campaign. Mr Blair is already planning to visit Northern Ireland at least once in this period to urge voters to continue supporting the Agreement and its institutions.
As regards balances, the election will determine the balance within the Assembly where decision-making will require consensus between unionist and nationalists.
The North-South cross-border council will also require virtual consensus and cannot be dominated by a particular goverment or party although how it will work in practice under the suspervision of the new Assembly and the Dail or parliament of the Republic, remains to be seen. This council will not be fully operational until later this year or even next year.
There seem to be enough safeguards built into the Agreement to prevent domination by any grouping or government.