Fwd: Blair Suspends N. Ireland Elections, Halts Peace Process
- --- imra@... wrote:
> Date: Fri, 2 May 2003 02:05:56 -0400=====
> From: imra@...
> To: imra@...
> Subject: Blair Suspends N. Ireland Elections, Halts Peace Process
> Blair Suspends N. Ireland Elections, Halts Peace Process
> By Glenn Frankel
> Washington Post Foreign Service
> Friday, May 2, 2003; Page A28
> ["So, to those who can sometimes say that the process in the Middle East is
> hopeless, I say we can look at Northern Ireland and take some hope from
> that." UK PM Tony Blair
> "There is such hope here in Northern Ireland that the past can be broken.
> And the Prime Minister is right when he says that when the peace process is
> successful here, it will send a really important signal to other parts of
> the world. It will confirm the fact that people who have a vision for peace
> can see that vision become a reality.
> It's the same vision we need to have in the Middle East. It's a hopeful time
> in the Middle East, as far as I'm concerned."
> US President George W. Bush
> joint press conference, Belfast, Northern Ireland April 8, 2003
> http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/04/20030408.html ]
> LONDON, May 1 -- Prime Minister Tony Blair today suspended upcoming
> elections in Northern Ireland, blaming the Irish Republican Army for failing
> to make a clear declaration that it would end its 30-year war against
> British rule.
> The decision, which officials said effectively freezes the Northern Ireland
> peace process at least until the fall, cancelled voting for a local
> power-sharing assembly that was to be held May 29. The assembly has been
> suspended since October following allegations the IRA had been spying on
> politicians and continuing other paramilitary activities.
> Blair's announcement was condemned bitterly by leaders of Sinn Fein, the
> IRA's political wing. They said Blair had sided unfairly with predominately
> Protestant unionists to help shore up support for David Trimble, a moderate
> Protestant leader who faces strong opposition within the Unionist community
> because of his support for the political process. The unionist movement
> favors keeping Northern Ireland a part of Britain; the predominantly
> Catholic republican movement favors joining Northern Ireland with the
> Republic of Ireland to the south.
> Reflecting the complex political divisions here, Trimble's party welcomed
> the move as it was condemned by its main Protestant rival, which had hoped
> to overtake Trimble's Ulster Unionist Party in the next election. Both
> parties contend the IRA remains a terrorist organization and should not be
> allowed to participate in the process.
> Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, Britain's partner in seeking political
> progress in the divided province, said he regretted Blair's move.
> "Ultimately, I believe that yet another postponement causes more problems
> for the process than it solves," Ahern said in Dublin.
> Britain and Ireland, with the support of the Bush administration, have
> conducted marathon negotiations with leaders of the Protestant and minority
> Catholic communities for several weeks, seeking to complete a deal that
> would get the process back on track. They thought they were close to doing
> so three weeks ago, around the time President Bush visited Belfast and
> declared Northern Ireland an example of how longstanding conflicts could be
> peacefully resolved.
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* Bob Martin