De Rossa urges IRA to note mood for peace

 

The following is an edited version of the speech delivered by the Democratic Left leader and Minister for Social Welfare, Mr De Rossa

THE agreement arrived at today by the two governments has the potential to restore the momentum of the peace process. This potential will be fully realised with the co operation of all parties and politicians

We should be guided by the powerful demonstrations for peace which took place in all parts of this island last Sunday. And we should be guided by the quiet dignity of the O'Brien family of Gorey who buried their son today.

The IRA, in particular, should take note of the public mood. There is no mood for violence, there is no mood for bombs in London or anywhere else. This mood is confirmed in an opinion poll published today.

The day of the patriot game is drawing to an end people want to express "the love of one's country" in more positive ways.

The overall message of the poll is that the people of these islands want peace without reservations. It is up to us as politicians, together with our counterparts in Britain and Northern Ireland, to secure the peace they want.

Likewise, it is up to the IRA to remove their veto on peace.

What has happened today is that politicians have saved the peace process from the gunmen. This is the result of a continuity in the approach of the two governments that predates the ceasefires and survived the recent bombings by the IRA.

This was the case during the worst years of the violence in Northern Ireland. It should be remembered that it was the democratic politicians, both nationalist and unionist, who, because they stood by democratic principles, ensured that there was not a complete descent into violence.

Thankfully, the forces of democracy represented not just by the political parties but by the various groups of civil society prevented this happening.

These forces are now called on again to secure a peaceful and democratic future. Sinn Fein has an obligation to its supporters to play a full part in the process. I trust that those in Sinn Fein who I know favour the political path will now assert themselves.

It is appropriate on an occasion such as this to pay tribute to the political leaders of loyalism who ensured that the universal loyalist ceasefire has been maintained. This has been a true test of leadership and they have come through it strengthened.

We are not yet, of course, out of the woods as far as violence is concerned and nothing can be taken for granted. But if political violence continues, all democratic parties must stand together with a view to achieving sufficient consensus on the important issues we have to address.

There is no war between Britain and Ireland. There is no war between the Republic and Northern Ireland. The cause of division in Northern Ireland is the conflicting national allegiances of the two main communities there.

The Irish people are no longer prepared to accept the shackles of the past.

They want to live in peace with their neighbours. They will not lightly forgive those who would stand in their way.