The Irish Republican Army's decision to break the 17-month cease-fire with the British Army on Feb. 10 must be seen by all concerned as an inevitable action. Do not mourn the loss of the "peace process," because it never existed. The temporary absence of conflict does not constitute peace. The cessation of hostilities did not move Ireland any closer toward the resolution of her ancient problem - the presence of the British Army.
The cease-fire was announced on Aug. 31, 1994 by the Irish Republican Army upon agreement with the British Conservative Party that if a truce were made, unconditional, all-party talks could begin on the future of Northern Ireland. Following this truce, the Irish Republican Army was then told that it must turn in all of its weapons if it wanted a seat at the negotiations, and "decommissioning of arms" became the intransigent catch phrase of British Prime Minister John Major.
Despite the numerous requests of opposition parties in Britain and the Irish government to the Conservative Party to dispense with such stubbornness, this impasse has prevailed to the present. In a desperate attempt to remedy this perilous position, President Bill Clinton assigned Senator Mitchell from Maine to head an unbiased commission that would decide whether or not the decommissioning of arms should be a passport to the talks for the Irish Republican Army.
Ireland and the world heard the results of this commission two weeks ago. It stated that in the best interests of peace, all party talks should begin immediately. Decommissioning was rejected as a barrier to potential progress. But wait! What was Downing Street's reply? John Major refuted the unbiased findings of a humanitarian commission that he himself would begin until his own newly established commission had decided on the issue.
Can you see that Ireland has lost her greatest chance for peace in years? Can you see that when people play politics with people's lives we all lose? Remember how and why the "troubles" started again in Ireland. Remember who delayed the talks for seventeen months. And if you are really interested, glance through an Irish history book and see how many times this has happened before. You'll be surprised.
Go raibh maith agaibh.