The Good Friday Peace

Belfast-born Samuel Boyd, who lives in Cwmbran and is a regular contributor to this publication, has continued to take an interest in the affairs of Northern Ireland and, soon after the announcement of the outcome of the prolonged negotiations on the future of Northern Ireland, he wrote the following letters to the press:

1. To the South Wales Argus (Newport, Gwent), published 15 April, 1998:

Peace isn’t Green or Orange
Peace in Northern Ireland will take more time and work. Tony Blair said at the close of the marathon negotiations that a beginning had been made, it was not the end. The will to make the agreement work must be applied.
The Ulster Unionist leader Trimble obtained a two to one acceptance vote at his party’s executive, but he has yet to test his skills at their 700 member delegate meeting.
The SDLP, Alliance Party and the Loyalist groups didn’t anticipate opposition within their organisations, but the Sinn Féin leaders have to argue it through in the next two weeks.
Only Paisley’s DUP and McCarthy’s UK Unionist Party are opposing the Document at this point, no doubt dissenters in the UUP may join them in the May Referendum.
Providing that Sinn Féin feel they can work within the proposed structures without prejudicing their aspirations for eventual unification, the yes vote should be substantial enough to validate the document. But a political settlement does not guarantee peace or absence of violence, so it will require an acceptance that the democratic will of the people is paramount, and that the overwhelming majority in both jurisdictions demand an end to murder and mayhem.
The document is neither green nor orange – for which the negotiators including governments must take credit. It is a slightly pink-fleshed grapefruit, which may have a tinge of bitterness for some, but is suitable for most reasonable political palates.

2. Sent on 16 April, 1998 to The Belfast Telegraph, to The Newsletter (Belfast) and to The Irish News (Belfast):

The Voice of Unreason
Although I have been away from Belfast for some years I have retained an interest and concern about the Bloody Turmoil of the last thirty years. In 1992 I was one of the 560 who made submissions to the Upsahl Commission – mine is outlined briefly on page 227 of its Report in June 1993.
I perceive the danger inherent in the campaign for a no vote initiated by Ian Paisley, family and supporters in what I call the DUPes.
A big voice, frame, ego and head containing nothing but a ragbag of outdated shibboleths and bigoted mouthings, from a big-mouthed so called leader, who uses an honorary doctorate, conferred by an American Bible Belt so called University, should not be allowed to stampede the people of N.Ireland into a rejection of the consensus achieved on April 10th.
The leader of the DUP should be remembered for the part he played in stirring up hatred and obstructing efforts to effect understanding between the Republic’s government and that of N. Ireland in the sixties.
While the rest of Europe and the world generally has been changing and shaping up to the issues of the next century and millennium, laying old enmities aside, this Bullfrog of the Belfast Marches has been fulminating, ranting and raving, seemingly unable to comprehend that the world in his head doesn’t correspond with reality.
In the Referendum on May 22nd the people of N. Ireland and the Republic should say no never again to the past as personified by the outpourings of the voice of unreason, from the empty vessel which makes much noise.
The proposals in the document, analysed objectively, are neither Orange or Green, and contain elements of importance to both communities, sufficient to assure them of parity of esteem and equality of opportunity to participate in building a new consensus and democratic future.
A resounding yes can make a start back to sanity.

©: Samuel H. Boyd, Cwmbran.

Published in The Green Dragon No 7, Summer 1998

Samuel H. Boyd