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by William Hughes
Sunday, Nov. 20, 2005 at 4:21 AM
The Irish people want peace, with justice, in the Brit-occupied Six Counties of N. Ireland. This is why, in 1998, they voted for the “Good Friday Agreement” (GFA), a formula for power sharing. At an Irish peace forum on 11/18/05, at Georgetown U., panelists debated the GFA. They all seem to agree the now-suspended Six County “Assembly,” had to be restored in order to make any additional progress. However, many other issues, like building trust, remain.
peace_forum_at_georgetown.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480
“Where will the [British] Lion strike? It depends on one thing alone - opportunity!” - John Michael’s “The Way of the Aggressor”
Washington, D.C. On Nov. 18, 2005, Georgetown U.’s Law School played host to a “Forum,” sponsored by the Irish American Unity Conference, (1) to discuss the status of the “Irish Peace Process,” which arose out of the “Good Friday Agreement” (GFA), of April 10, 1998. The GFA is a framework of ideas-a formula, between the major political parties in the North of Ireland and the British and Irish governments-to work peacefully towards power sharing and demilitarization. (2) One of its results has been a cease-fire, starting in 1994, by all of the relevant paramilitary groups in the North, as well as the much-despised British Army of Occupation.
In July, 2005, the IRA announced that it was “fully disarming.” An independent commission has confirmed that fact. The Brits have also promised to cut their military troop strength in Northern Ireland, (Occupied Six Counties), over the next two years. However, the third party in this affair, the Unionist paramilitary groups, have yet to “put their arms beyond use.” (3) The Brits have traditionally manipulated the Unionist/Orange (Protestant) community in the North for their own imperialistic ends since it first “planted” them there centuries ago. (4) Will they continue to “use” the Unionists with respect to implementing the GFA?
The GFA is a controversial pact - a compromise! Although the vast majority of Irish Republicans support it, some believe that it “copper-fastens Partition” and abandons the Fenian goal of a united Ireland. (5) The GFA was approved by an overwhelming numbers of voters, in a referendum of voters on May 22, 1998, in both the North and South of Ireland. Bottom line: The Irish people want the guns silenced, while working for a peaceful future. (6)
The Forum was co-moderated by ex-Rep. Bruce Morrison (D-CT) and popular NJ attorney, Edmund E. Lynch. The panels included, inter alia, Anne Porter of the Ulster Unionist Party; Dr. Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party; British Embassy’s Andrew Pike and Dominic Martin; Orla O’Hanrahan of the Irish Embassy; Alex Maskey of Sinn Fein; SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell; Michael Gallagher of the U.S. State Department; Robert Livingstone of the “Daily Ireland” News; and Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Center. Bob Linnon of the IAUC; Father Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus; and Andrew D. Sens of the Arms Decommissioning Commission, also participated. Although they were inivted, no official of the largest Unionist party in the North, the DUP, led by the Rev. Ian Paisley, made an appearance. What does that say about the future of the GFA?
All of the panelists seemed to agree on the absolute necessity of restoring the now-suspended government parliament in the North-called the “Assembly.” To restore it promptly in 2006, would show progress, although slow, has been made under the GFA. Mr. Maskey urged the U.S. to continue to “support the peace process in a nonpartisan manner.” The panelists appeared badly-divided, however, on most of the other power-sharing issues arising out of the disputed deal, particularly, matters concerning the failed Diplock Court justice system in the Six Counties; restoring rights to former POWs; cross border economic and security initiatives; making policing reforms via the urgings of the “Patton Report”; and owning up to past collusion between the Brits and Loyalist paramilitaries. When Mr. Martin, the Brit Embassy official denied that his government had “a policy” in the past of collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries, he was sharply rebutted by Father McManus and Mr. O’Connor.
As an American, it is hard for me to believe that the Brits are still in the North of Ireland - sixty years after the end of WWII! According to “The Atlantic Charter,” Aug. 14, 1941, predatory UK imperial acquisitions were to be dismantled, via an implied de-colonialization process. Agreeing to its terms was the U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as that hypocrite Winston Churchill, then the UK’s Prime Minister. One of the major principles agreed to was the right of a people to “self-government,” especially those, like the Irish, who had been “forcibly deprived” of their sovereignty by Brit schemers. (7) Churchill, and succeeding British regimes, have failed miserably to live up to that Charter. Will the GFA be another exhibit in the court of public opinion in the case of Irish Nationalism vs. “Perfidious Albion?”
Mr. Maskey took the Brits to task for having more troops now in the North of Ireland “than they do in Iraq!” Michael Gallagher of the State Department promised that the U.S. would do whatever it could to make the peace process “work.” Mr. Livingstone rapped the media in Dublin for its “poisonous” attitude towards the GFA. Mr. McDonnell said his party, the SDLP, envisions, “in 15 to 20 years, a New Ireland, that would be agreed. We are prepared to work through the negotiations...with friend and foe alike... for an agreement...in which the Unionists in the North are accommodated and find a home. That is essential to us..We want to see a New Ireland, at peace with itself, prosperous and free.”
Irony abounds about this “Forum” being held at Georgetown U. Back in Feb., 1981, the head of the school, the late Father Timothy S. Healy, S. J., insisted, over the objections of many, on granting an honorary degree to the then-UK Prime Minister, the quintessential reactionary - Margaret Thatcher. In the spring of that same year, the Jesuit-honored Thatcher, permitted ten brave Irishmen to die on hunger strikes in north of Ireland’s prison hell holes, over the moral and legal issue of their status as prisoners of war. (8) For the most part, the sex-scandal-ridden RC Church in America, and the media, also, “saw no evil” with regards to the Brits’ rampant violations of human rights in the Six Counties during the worst days of the “Troubles.” (9) On the RC Church’s behalf, I suppose it could argue that it was too busy to notice because it was trying to cover up the 11,000 cases of child sex abuse involving about 5,000 priests. As for the media, it continues to demonstrate its gross ignorance of Brit outrages committed during America’s revolutionary struggle for independence. (10) Watching, too, the media swoon over that eejit Prince Charles, and his homely bride, Lady Camilla, on their recent propaganda tour of the U.S., made me grateful for the remote on my TV set.
What the British Establishment says and what it covertly does are obviously two different things. Take the “Downing St. Memos” for a recent example. They show how Prime Minister Tony Blair, and his cohorts, and the Bush-Cheney Gang, reportedly conspired to “fix” the facts and intelligence “around the policy” to ignite the Iraqi War. (11) There is also the matter of the UK-US Extradition Treaty, which is presently pending before the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations. (12) If the Brits truly envision an Ireland at peace, why are they pushing this draconian treaty?
Considering all of the above: Is the GFA a deal in which the Brits intend to create Irish unity by moving glacier-like towards an “Agreed Ireland?” Or, is it a contrived pacification program with no “Plan B,” that will collapse on its face when the dreadful Tories next take power in the UK? The Irish people deserve justice, peace and reconciliation. (13) Only time will tell if their trusting the Brits to bring it about is a grave mistake - or not. (14)
4. “The Way of the Aggressor,” by John Michael, (1941), details the crimes of British Imperialists from genocide in Ireland, to slave trafficking in Africa, to exploiting the resources and peoples of Asia, India, the Middle East, Australia and Tasmania.
8. “Ten Men Dead,” by David Beresford.
9. Ex-MI 6 operative, Army Captain Fred Holroyd, appeared on C-Span, on Oct. 18, 1993. He charged that British “dirty tricks” in the occupied north of Ireland, during the 70s, had included: murders, bombings, framing of innocent victims, running PsyOps programs and pseudo gangs, and kidnappings.
10. British War Criminals permitted 11,500 American POWs to languish and die of hunger and disease on prison ships, docked in New York City’s harbor, between 1776-83. See, “Encyclopedia of the American Revolution,” ed. by Mark M. Boatner III (pp. 894-895).
13. See, video excerpts of “The Irish Peace Forum,” at: http://homepage.mac.com/bhughes2/iMovieTheater162.html; and also photos of the panelists/co-moderators, at: http://homepage.mac.com/bhughes2/PhotoAlbum163.html
© William Hughes 2005.
William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at email@example.com.
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