Make History — History

It is difficult even for me, raised in Northern Ireland and aware of its social and political nuances, to try to understand the twists and turns of the minds of its politicians at the end of 2005 in respect of the ‘Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill’ (to allow ‘on the runs’ to return to normal life in Northern Ireland without being prosecuted) so it must be much more so for British politicians and the British public.

If the 1998 Belfast Agreement is to work, however painful it may be to many, there needs to be a great deal of flexibility and acceptance that a lot of things will have to, very reluctantly, be left in the past.

Loyalist, Republican and security involvement prior to the 10th April 1998 have to be part of the special treatment proposed in the aforementioned Bill, largely agreed in Weston Park, Staffordshire, during talks in July 2005 as part of the process to peace and devolved government and placed alongside the significant action of IRA decommissioning.

The withdrawal of Sinn Féin from supporting the content of the Bill because of security force inclusion means that they and all the other Northern Ireland political parties are on a collision course, one likely to scupper the entire content of the Good Friday Agreement.

This is now apparent from the reaction of Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, who now says that if the parties in Northern Ireland cannot come to terms for joining the power sharing Executive and reestablish the devolved Assembly, he will cancel the next Assembly elections which will in effect close down the whole shebang.

This, of course, is both pointless and crass and stupid into the bargain, for it is the Democratic Unionist Party and its intransigent leader, Ian Paisley, who are the main obstacle to progress. He was and still is opposed to the full working of the 1998 Agreement. This threat by Peter Hain he will regard as a promise, receive its implementation with delight and be delirious at having achieved the goal he has pursued since and before that date in April 1998 when he thought the end had arrived.

We are perilously close to failure unless rationality asserts itself among the more enlightened members of both communities. They should prevail on their leaders to come together and isolate the wreckers, put the past behind and set about rebuilding the society.

In short, paraphrasing one of Bob Geldof’s phrases (and Tony Blair’s also) let them “Make History – History”.

And Peter Hain should realise that what worked in South Africa cannot necessarily be applied to Northern Ireland for its history is continually reenacted and reproduced. This is very different to that in which he was nurtured and must be defeated.

©: Samuel H. Boyd, Cwmbran, Wales, 3 January, 2006.

Samuel H. Boyd