Bruton insists IRA must reject military option
THE Taoiseach called for a rethink and reorientation within the republican movement to bring about peace.
"It must be recognised that if you are on a peace only strategy, there is no necessity to retain the military option," said Mr Bruton. "All those previously involved in military activity need to understand and learn what is involved in pursuing the political path."
He said it was a matter of regret to him that rethinking and re education did not take place within the republican movement, and was not led by its leadership, during the ceasefire.
He hoped that a referendum, along the lines suggested by Mr John Hume, clearly expressing the will of the Irish people, would not only result in a ceasefire but also in what was necessary to ensure that it was genuinely one that was not tactical but permanent.
Concern had to remain about the fact that, apparently, throughout the ceasefire, the IRA's military structures were fully maintained in operational order. Punishment beatings were undertaken, there was targeting of individuals and the entire organisation was kept on a military footing.
Mr Bruton said that when Mr Hume first made his proposal the Government heartily welcomed it, believing that it was constructive. If all of the people on the island were to vote unambiguously that they were against the use of violence for solving political problems, that, would make it clear to those retaining the option of violence that they were rejected by all the people.
"That would have considerable moral force."
The matter was raised by the Fianna Fail leader, Mr Bertie Ahern, who said he believed all parties in the House agreed with Mr Hume's suggestion for a peace referendum North and South. However, from comments in the newspapers, Mr John Major seemed to have a broader concept of the referendum. Any referendum put to the people be divisive and should on peace.
The PD leader, Ms Mary Harney, said she would not object to Mr Hume's proposal. But it was important to broaden the scope of the referendum to ensure that the ground rules for negotiations were on the basis of consent in particular. There had to be more than a peace strategy. There had to be a commitment to peace, not something that was used when it suited and abandoned when it did not suit.
Agreeing, Mr Bruton said that peace for a political party was never a tactic. It had to be a principle. "There must be a full, understanding by all political parties that you cannot don the mantle of peace occasionally and then drop it when it suits to do otherwise," he said.
"Peace and the practice of peace, has to be a permanent character of a movement. And it is for a movement itself to determine how that can be done."