Monday, July 23, 2012

More obstructions to Irish reconciliation

By Theo Russell

ALL FIVE Sinn Féin MPs were in London on 28th June at a summer reception which also marked the resignation of Martin McGuinness as MP, after the party’s decision to end dual mandates for its elected representatives.
 McGuinness delivered a keynote address which touched on a number of current problems, which he placed at the door of the Lib-Dem coalition.
 “Unfortunately”, he said, “to date, the British state has refused to even acknowledge its role as a combatant in the conflict. That position is no longer tenable as we move forward. It is excluding the British state from assisting a genuine process of national reconciliation in Ireland, a process which, though embryonic, is nevertheless underway.
 “There are issues that have not been brought to a conclusion, specifically the issue of the legacy of the conflict. The British government has a big role to play in that.
 “Many people in the North who are big supporters of the Peace Process are hurt. Just last week, relatives of those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre were told by British Secretary of State Owen Paterson that they would not have the type of inquiry that they were looking for, the kind of investigation that they wanted, into the deaths of their loved ones killed by the British army.
 “Likewise, the British commitment at Weston Park for an inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane has not been implemented. The Government in London needs to stop obstructing these matters.
 “Indeed, in recent times this British government has made a series of stupid and unhelpful decisions, including the revocation of the licence of Marian Price and the continuing imprisonment of Martin Corey on the same basis.
 “People may be shocked to discover that Peter Robinson and myself have met American President Barack Obama more times that we have met David Cameron in our role as First and deputy First Ministers. This lack of engagement by David Cameron is a serious mistake and may provide a rationale for some of the damaging decisions made by Owen Paterson during his tenure at the NIO.”
 Turning to the recent tensions sparked by the Orange marching season, McGuinness said: “I welcome the upcoming visit of the Orange Order to the Oireachtas (Irish parliament), but they need to end their position of refusing dialogue with Sinn Féin or nationalist residents.
 “I would ask them to look at the events of the past week and seriously debate how they are going to step forward and make their contribution to a lasting peace in the coming weeks.”

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