Seanad Éireann - Volume 146 - 29 February, 1996
Northern Ireland: Statements.
Mr. Manning Mr. Manning
 Mr. Manning: By agreement, the Tánaiste will open the debate. After the Tánaiste has spoken, there will be contributions of not more than five minutes from each speaker.
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Professor Lee Professor Lee
Professor Lee: Can we share our five minutes? We have said so much on Northern Ireland that many of us may need only two minutes.
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring) Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring)
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): I am glad to be in the Seanad to give Members an insight into what has been happening in relation to yesterday's communiqué on Northern Ireland.
In the Joint Declaration, which was agreed 26 months ago, the two Governments stated that it was their aim “to foster agreement and reconciliation, leading to a new political framework founded on consent and encompassing arrangements within Northern Ireland, for the whole island, and between these islands.” A little over a year ago in the Framework Document, we agreed that a vital dimension of this process was “the search, through dialogue with the relevant Northern Ireland parties, for new institutions and structures to take account of the totality of relationships”; and we said we were conscious of the “widespread desire, throughout both islands and more widely, to see negotiations under way as soon as possible.”
It has been a matter of frustration and disappointment that it has taken so long for these negotiations to get underway. The long stalemate has been costly in terms of our hopes for peace and agreement, but nevertheless we are insistent that we must press ahead to the negotiating table.
 Negotiations are not an optional extra or a favour to be granted or withheld. They are essential. The issues which they must address are profound and difficult. In essence, they will seek to answer the question: is it possible for the people of Northern Ireland, the people of the island as a whole and the people of these islands to find an agreed way to live and work together? In looking for the answer, we must be guided by the core values of consent and parity of esteem. The shared commitment of both Governments to these fundamental principles, as set out in the Downing Street Declaration and the Joint Framework Document, was clearly reaffirmed yesterday. We also reiterated our determination to secure the earliest and most inclusive possible negotiations to address comprehensively all the relevant relationships and issues in an interlocking three stranded process. Yesterday, the two Governments mapped out the route to those negotiations and made a joint commitment to a fixed and specific date for negotiations.
There will be intensive multilateral consultations between the two Governments and the parties from next Monday, 4 March, until 13 March. This stage will be launched by Sir Patrick Mayhew and myself when we meet in Belfast on Monday to work out in more detail the structure and precise timetable for those consultations. The consultations are to seek widespread agreement on a broadly acceptable elective process leading directly and without preconditions to all party negotiations. They will also aim to reach agreement on the basis, participation, structure, format and agenda of substantive all party negotiations. They will also consider whether there might be advantage in holding a referendum in Northern Ireland with a parallel referendum held by the Government in this jurisdiction on the same day, to mandate support for a process to create lasting stability based on the repudiation of violence for any political purpose.
 The two Governments will then review the outcome of these consultations and will, in accordance with our respective responsibilities, take the necessary decisions. Legislation for an elective process will then be brought forward at Westminster by the British Government. Decisions will be announced as appropriate on arrangements for the negotiations, which will begin on 10 June, the earliest attainable date once allowance was made for an elective process.
In short, the two Governments have supplied what was previously absent from the peace process: a fixed and unchangeable date for the start of all party negotiations, and a clear and rigorously timetabled course to that destination.
The two Governments will continue to work together in partnership to fulfil our obligations to the peoples of both islands. In the short and medium term, many important decisions will fall to us to be taken. We are committed to achieving the most widespread agreement possible with the parties on the details which remain unresolved, but in the final analysis we appreciate it is we who will have to come to settled judgments on many matters. We share an unshakeable determination that the fixed date of 10 June for the start of negotiations will be met and will take whatever actions are required to ensure this is achieved.
Nevertheless, while the co-operation of the two Governments is a necessary condition for progress, it is not of itself sufficient for the negotiations to succeed once they have started. An equally heavy obligation rests on the Northern parties, whose obligations extend not merely to those whom they represent, but to the people of Ireland and Britain as a whole.
Today there is a particular focus on the future intentions and actions of Sinn Féin and the republican movement as a whole. Both Governments want Sinn Féin to play a full part in the political process and in future negotiations. We know that it has made a leading contribution  to the development of the peace process and that without its inclusion in negotiations, the task of achieving real stability and an agreement to which all can subscribe will be rendered extraordinarily problematic, though come what may, we are determined to carry on working for peace.
Equally, however, we have made it clear that violence and politics are polar opposites. For reasons which we have made abundantly clear on several occasions since the ending of the IRA ceasefire on 9 February, neither Government is prepared to resume full political contact with Sinn Féin until there is a total resumption of that cessation. Consequently, Sinn Féin would not be able to take its place at the negotiating table on 10 June, which would be profoundly regrettable, not just for it and its supporters but for all of us. On the other hand, the restoration of the ceasefire now would make it possible for us to go back to work with them from next Monday onwards.
The IRA sought to justify its unjustifiable return to violence by reference to the failure to initiate negotiations. Leading members of Sinn Féin have spoken of the need for a fixed date for those negotiations and evidence of a fresh dynamic in the peace process. There now exists such a fixed date. There is now a new dynamic. It is time for Sinn Féin to return to the IRA and to use the full extent of its influence to draw the inescapable inferences from these developments: that, even in terms of the IRA's own logic, a logic which to the rest of us can seem deeply illogical, there is no reason for it not right away to reinstate its ceasefire. It would be the most tragic and futile of losses if even a single other person were to be killed or injured because of a failure to take that decision or of any delay in so deciding.
The friends of Ireland throughout the world are closely following these latest developments in our peace process. President Clinton last night welcomed the announcement of a path to negotiations for a just and lasting settlement in Northern Ireland. He went on to call  on those who have resorted to violence to heed the voice of the people and cease their campaign of terror. The republican movement finds itself at a fork in the road. Does it abandon violence once and for all and proceed along that path to negotiations, or does it take a wrong turning and carry on with its campaign of terror? The choice is stark: the right and honourable course is clear. If the IRA chooses not to renew its ceasefire, then all those who have worked incessantly and taken grave risks to assist Sinn Féin take the right road will draw their own grim conclusions about the quality of the republican commitment to peace.
If negotiations are to be successful, however, then all of us will have to contribute to making them so, including the Unionist parties. As the communiqué makes clear, borrowing the words of the international body, confidence building among the participants in negotiations “would also require that the parties have reassurance that a meaningful and inclusive process of negotiations is genuinely being offered to address the legitimate concerns of their traditions and the need for new political arrangements with which all can identify.”
These negotiations seek nothing more or less than a radical reordering of all our relationships on the basis of equality and justice. Any settlement is bound, therefore, to rest on compromise all round. There can be no change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland without the consent of a majority. At the same time, consent is a coin with two sides. The duty to seek consent is owed not only by the nationalist tradition to the unionist tradition, but also by the unionists to the nationalists.
Negotiations will pose a particular challenge to the leadership of the unionist community. Will they be able to find in themselves the reserves of generosity and imagination which will be required to make Northern Ireland a place in which both communities feel they have a stake. Last week, in their policy paper The Democratic Imperative, the Ulster  Unionist Party declared that it was “conscious that there is more than one political/cultural tradition in Northern Ireland; that all democratic traditions require respect and accommodation; and that this will mean the design of institutions that we have not previously had”. These are welcome and direct acknowledgements of truths which constitutional nationalism also recognises. What is now important is that the unionist parties show, in direct negotiations, that they are prepared to draw the necessary conclusions and share in the necessary actions.
The Government has long recognised the need for unionist fears and concerns to be understood and accommodated. No more profound guarantee could be offered than that of our adherence to the principle of consent, and our acceptance of all that flows from that principle. We also understand the very deep scars inflicted on the unionist community by 25 years of IRA violence, and feel shame and regret that these evils were done in the name of Ireland.
We also appreciate that the negotiating process must be designed in a way which offers reassurance to all democrats that the fundamental tenets of non-violence are to apply. Accordingly, the two Governments recognised yesterday that as a confidence-building measure all participants would need to make clear at the beginning of negotiations their total and absolute commitment to the principles of democracy and non-violence set out in the report of the international body. These challenging and stringent principles offer firm guarantees that violence will not be countenanced as a means of influencing negotiations and that participants will abide by the outcome of those negotiations.
The Mitchell principles also oblige all parties to commit themselves to the total and verifiable disarmament of all paramilitary organisations. This will be, therefore, a basic objective of the negotiations. At the start of negotiations all parties would also need to address the  international body's proposals on decommissioning. As Prime Minister Major said yesterday, these issues, however difficult, cannot be dodged.
At the same time, the Mitchell report recognised that there will be in negotiations a dynamic interplay between progress on the decommissioning issue and progress on political questions. It would be unrealistic to expect that any one issue, or complex of issues, in the negotiations will be fully settled and resolved on its own and in advance of all others. The requirement that the approach proposed by the international body be addressed at the start of negotiations does not mean, and cannot be interpreted as meaning, that serious negotiation on all other issues must wait until the decommissioning question is definitively settled. What is important is that all participants address all issues in good faith from the beginning. The need to tackle decommissioning must not be allowed to impede negotiation on the three strands of relationships.
The unionist parties have also stated that the creation of an elective process is an enabling condition for their participation in negotiations. The Irish Government are prepared to lend support to any proposal for an elective process which to our satisfaction is broadly acceptable to the Northern parties, has an appropriate mandate and is within the three stranded structure. In the Dáil last night the leader of the main Opposition party, Deputy Ahern, sought clarification as to why, in paragraph 9 of the communiqué, the Taoiseach alone was described as insisting that an elective process be situated within a three-stranded negotiating structure. The answer is quite simple. Paragraph 6 of the communiqué clearly states that both Governments are committed to “inclusive negotiations to address comprehensively all the relevant relationships and issues in an interlocking three-stranded process.”
Paragraph 9 sets out the position of the Irish Government in relation to the elective process. A central element of this position is that any proposal for the  elective process must meet the three conditions laid down in the report of the international body, as I have specified. Both Governments are agreed that while the election itself will be confined to Northern Ireland, any elective process must lead directly and without further preconditions into all-party negotiations within an interlocking three-stranded structure.
The fact that the details of an elective process are for the parties in Northern Ireland, together with the British Government, to determine, does not mean that the overall purpose and role of that process, and its interconnection with the three-stranded negotiations themselves, are not matters of entirely legitimate concern to us. The Irish Government will remain fully involved in ensuring that the elective process meets the criteria on which we must, as the Taoiseach indicated, be satisfied.
The atrocities perpetrated at Canary Wharf and later were in human terms irreparable, the losses inflicted can never be made good and the families of the victims will carry their crosses forever. Their political impact was also immense. However, now we all have another chance to make the peace process succeed. There now exists a firm timetable for entry into negotiations. The steps outlined in the communiqué offer all parties an honourable opportunity to enter dialogue and to begin the difficult process of building a lasting accommodation. Can anyone refuse to join in that endeavour?
Mr. O'Kennedy Mr. O'Kennedy
Mr. O'Kennedy: In the brief time available I will confine myself to making some observations which may appear to be disjointed, as one does not have time to develop a full and consistent theme.
I want to express appreciation to both Governments for their achievement in agreeing a communiqué and setting the peace process back on the rails. All of us feel indebted to them for the efforts they have made in bringing about what has been a welcome conclusion to very delicate and difficult negotiations.
 The clear purpose of the communiqué is to lead to the introduction once again of negotiations towards rendering permanent the peace process through all-party talks. It must be said that the communiqué poses a direct challenge to the IRA especially and to Sinn Féin, as the group which can apparently talk to them most freely if not represent them directly. I think the IRA must have the message clear now that whatever right they might claim is not inherited from the people of Ireland, North or South. The need to repudiate violence and return properly and legitimately to all-party negotiations through Sinn Féin in this instance is something which my party wants to see achieved. Having said that, they must face the fact, as I say, that the Irish people reject violence or anything done in their name. For me, the word “republican” has a special sacred meaning and, as a republican, I have felt sick over the years at the way in which that term has been applied to people who, in fact, have repudiated the very meaning of republicanism.
Mr. Manning Mr. Manning
Mr. Manning: Hear, hear.
Mr. O'Kennedy Mr. O'Kennedy
Mr. O'Kennedy: I almost resent the use of the term in that sense but I will not dwell on that too much today.
Everyone has played their part in setting the process back on the rails and, in respect of my party leader, Deputy Bertie Ahern, I have witnessed this over the last few weeks. There is no doubt that he has played a significant role on an all-party basis in bringing about the successful conclusion which both Governments achieved yesterday. It is no secret that my party had close links with the process on the basis of discussions and contacts from the beginning of this peace process, under former Taoiseach, Deputy Albert Reynolds. I, personally, was involved in a sense in earlier days with some of the Redemptorist priests, whom I have known because they are from my home county.
I want to have it known that this is a matter of common purpose between all parties here. We are happy with the  achievement of the Government; but, equally, it would recognise that Fianna Fáil played no little part in all of this and in establishing a trust and confidence which must be built on. The big problem with which we are dealing is distrust, which did not just arise over the last 12 months or with the failure to expedite and put the talks and the process firmly in place. It goes back long before that. Certainly, it goes back 70 years, if not before. Unfortunately, this distrust is founded on an undue preoccupation with what has divided the people in Northern Ireland and a lack of awareness of what they can share and achieve together. I do not in this context talk of a united Ireland. I note that many unionist MPs use that term for the purpose of rejecting what they say it means. Let us talk about coming together in common purpose. There is much to be healed because of the experiences of 70 years and we must work very hard in these weeks and months to bring this healing about.
The peace process is not just something at which we will work over the weeks and months between now and the all-party talks in June. It will lead to a culmination that is acceptable to all. A peace process is something that goes on and on. The only way it can be put in place is if people come away from the barriers they have erected and see the potential on both sides to share and cooperate. The unionist people particularly have been deprived of this potential for a considerable period of time because of barriers that have been erected in their name.
Mr. Manning Mr. Manning
Mr. Manning: I would like to continue along the lines outlined by the last two speakers. I congratulate the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and their team on what was achieved yesterday. It was a victory for politics and politicians. It was a vindication of hard persistent work, keeping open the channels of communication, pressing forward in a focused way even in the most difficult of circumstances, understanding and respecting complexities  and not falling into the traps of simplistic, instant solutions, recriminations or emotional self indulgence. A good day's work was done yesterday and great credit is due to all concerned. I join with Senator O'Kennedy in applauding the role of his party over the difficult weeks when national solidarity was important and was maintained.
Yesterday was a tribute to the durability of the institutions set up under the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985. These institutions and structures have endured and provided an invaluable framework within which major crises, such as that we have been through, can be contained, where stock can be taken, where regrouping can take place and ultimately progress can be made. For those involved in these processes, much of it is mundane and tedious. It can mean that they must bite their lips on many occasions and bide their time. The pace of progress may not satisfy some of those commentators who find it so easy to rush to judgment but who themselves must never shoulder the blame or carry the responsibility and whose motives, unlike those of politicians, must never be subject to scrutiny. So far however, those structures have endured and worked. Please God, they will continue to do so.
The communiqué and the arrangements announced in it offer an honourable way forward for Sinn Féin. It will not be easy, but the alternative is to pursue a policy of nihilism, condemn their own people to endless suffering and deny their own talented, energetic people an opportunity to turn their energy and passion into building new political arrangements in which they will have at least part ownership. It is an open challenge and given their history, the circumstances within which they operate and the continuing power of the Provisional IRA, it will not be an easy one to follow. However, they should know and must be told that the overwhelming majority of the Irish people on both sides of the Border want them in and want them to play a full and valuable part in shaping all our futures.  However, it is up to them and, sadly, the alternative is too awful to contemplate. I hope that in the coming weeks every effort will be made to encourage Sinn Féin to go this way and I know that if they do, they will have all our support and encouragement.
I want to address a point to the unionists. I ask them to read The Irish Times poll of yesterday. They may not believe us when we say we have no imperial ambitions or that their own best interest lies in a peaceful agreed Northern Ireland which respects and copperfastens their rights and identity. I ask them to look at The Irish Times poll which shows an overwhelming desire for a peace in Northern Ireland, which does not threaten but provides space in which there is a place for leadership. Unionist political leaders should follow their Church leaders, business leaders and trade union leaders. The public is ahead of them in its desire for peace and its willingness to make concessions and take risks. I appeal to them all to show courage and I am certain if they do, it will be rewarded.
The electoral system will become a major part of the proximity talks. It is a matter of importance and one which I hope will be resolved between the parties themselves. The important point is that the election should not be about personalities. It must be about policies and proposals for the future. The most important factor is that it must be fully representative. No legitimate point of view must be excluded from the talks. It is especially important that the small loyalist groups, which have shown restraint, courage and vision with little support from their mainstream parties, get representation.
The list system on a province wide basis would best ensure that this happens with no threat to the bigger parties. The list system would provide the names of those who would take part, but the index system would be even better. It would simply allow the parties a certain number of seats. This would allow the smaller parties, who might be  short of expertise, to vary their representation as appropriate. It is a small technical point and I am sure there is plenty of expertise available. However, it is important that these practical matters are resolved at an early stage. That is for the parties and it would be a tragedy if the whole process was to get bogged down on this or any other issue.
The only point we want to make today is that the peace process is back on the rails. It is revitalised and has a sense of focus. All we can do is wish it well and do everything in our power to help it succeed.
Professor Lee Professor Lee
Professor Lee: May I share my time with Senator Quinn?
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Professor Lee Professor Lee
Professor Lee: I read the communiqué with a combination of satisfaction and sadness. I was satisfied that the peace process appears to be in train again. I was sad because the agreements reached yesterday could have been reached at an earlier date and this, one would have hoped, would have saved innocent lives.
One must welcome the communiqué and one hopes there will be no retreat ever again from the stage we have reached. There are obviously huge problems ahead in negotiating terms. All the negotiations will be difficult, protracted and complicated. Even those negotiations starting next week will be difficult. I listened with great interest to what the Leader said about the possible problems of the electoral system. There are a variety of possibilities which one could entertain and we might learn some lessons for our systems in due course. There are any number of variables, including a list system, an index system or a combination of list and straight vote. Our diplomats are extremely skilful at thinking of these things.
The main thing to ensure is that all the relevant parties come to the table. I would have one or two problems with  some of the mindset revealed by the phraseology. I suspect that the phrase, “the people of these islands”, is used for the first time in these documents. We managed to avoid the phrase “the Irish people” in either the Downing Street Declaration or the Joint Framework Document where the Irish people no longer exist. We should speak of the peoples of these islands as distinct from the people of these islands, but I will assume no ideological implication of a type that a suspicious mind might read into it is intended. Having said that, the most important thing now is to get the negotiations going.
I urge Sinn Féin and the IRA to accept the terms of this communiqué and to indicate their agreement to enter into all-party talks. Now that a date has been expressed, they have been granted the main conditions they requested. It would be utter treachery to the republican tradition in this country if they were now to find ways of rejecting the invitation as contained in this communiqué.
Mr. Quinn Mr. Quinn
Mr. Quinn: I thank Senator Lee for allowing me a few minutes to make two points. The name of the game has changed since yesterday. Our expectations were too extravagant. Let us not have extravagant expectations again. I believe we were not single minded and determined in the last 17 months; when I say “we” I mean all of us involved on both islands. We must avoid being lulled into the comfort of peace and assuming it will stay, without hard work. There was a time for optimism, but now is the time for realism.
The elective process is dangerous. In the months up to 10 June, we must work hard to keep the temperature cool. We must make sure that during the electoral process we do nothing to raise temperatures or inflame passions. Those who go forward for election tend to be seduced by the extremes. We seldom hear moderate words during an election campaign. We can even see that in the American primaries at the moment.
 We must not be baited into saying unhelpful things. I was impressed by the words of the Tánaiste when he spoke of building a lasting accommodation and asked whether anyone could refuse to join in that endeavour. Our part during the next few months is to be careful about what we say because an election period is a very dangerous time.
Ms O'Sullivan Ms O'Sullivan
Ms O'Sullivan: One only has to look back on how we all felt just a few weeks ago when the ceasefire ended, to realise what an achievement yesterday's communiqué is, and how much progress both Governments have made. The communiqué provides a vehicle for all parties to move forward into the substantive process of peacemaking. Anyone who does not move forward at this stage will be left behind.
The two Governments have responded clearly to the voice of the Irish people at peace rallies and in opinion polls. It was a clear message from the collective heart of the people, not just that they did not want violence but that a political mechanism must be found to move the process forward. That opportunity is provided in the joint communiqué.
I add my voice to those calling on Sinn Féin and the IRA to grasp the opportunities there for them. They now have a date for all party talks. Is that simple fact enough for the IRA to cease killing people? Sinn Féin can now tell the IRA army council that we have a date for all party talks without preconditions, that it has no right to keep Sinn Féin out of the process by continuing the campaign of violence.
Sinn Féin talks about its democratic mandate, but what democratic mandate does the army council of the IRA have? It has none, and if it does not listen to Sinn Féin, which has a mandate, it will be left behind by the tide of history.
On the other hand, if Sinn Féin allows its policy on the use of violence to be dictated by the IRA army council, its commitment to the democratic process will be legitimately questioned. It is a stark question. According to the news,  Gerry Adams is concerned that he still may not have enough to bring to the IRA to ask them to call a ceasefire. However, he has the date for all party talks which is what it sought.
It is ludicrous to suggest there might now be some other preconditions to the reinstatement of the ceasefire. Seamus Mallon said yesterday this was the moment of truth, and it is. I urge Sinn Féin to go to the IRA and the IRA to take this opportunity because it may be the only one it will get, at least in the near future.
The co-operation and commitment of both Governments will be needed to move the process forward, but I have no doubt that commitment is there. The intensive process beginning next Monday will demand considerable commitment, but the groundwork — including listening, talking and reassuring — has been done.
Trust can be built up, but it must be laid on the line that people who try to stall or otherwise thwart the process — as detailed in paragraph 10 of the communiqué — will fly in the face of the very people they represent, whether they are nationalists or unionists. The ordinary people of Northern Ireland want their leaders to be constructive. As Senator Manning said, in many ways the people are ahead of their leaders, particularly the unionist leaders.
Yesterday, I expressed my concern at the use of the term “pan-nationalist front” being used more and more by senior unionist leaders including Ken Maginnis. That terminology implies the drawing up of battle lines, and it is dangerous language to use in the present context. The use of such terms implies that a nationalist front is lining up against a unionist front in a confrontational manner. We need to hear the opposite kind of language at the moment.
Understanding, compromise and partnership can only be achieved by politicians having the courage to trust one another as so many people in Northern Ireland have been trying to do over the last 17 months during the ceasefire.  The leaders in the North must show the same courage that people there have shown in genuinely trying to trust one another and understand the concerns of the other community.
I concur with Senator Manning when he said that whatever electoral process is agreed must include representatives of the smaller loyalist parties, the PUP and the UDP. They have a crucial role to play and must be at the table. I have read something about this other election system that has been suggested. It has possibilities, particularly in regard to ensuring that those two parties are represented.
The Mitchell principles must be an integral part of the process as it moves forward. The way forward will demand the courage to give as well as to take. I hope all political leaders will reflect on the stark options before them, and will take the opportunities available. They can either stick with the old certainties and not go anywhere, or enter into genuine dialogue and take part in the intensive work towards a peaceful settlement.
None of us wishes to minimise the problems or the commitment that will have to be made by all sides to try to understand other people's difficulties as well as their own. It is a unique opportunity for all of us and I hope everybody will grasp it.
Mr. Dardis Mr. Dardis
Mr. Dardis: I welcome and endorse the Tánaiste's remarks, in particular when he said that come what may, we are determined to carry on working for peace. That is an important statement. The Progressive Democrats welcome the communiqué from yesterday's summit in London between the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister. I congratulate the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, both Governments and their advisers on creating a balanced and sensitive formula to which everyone committed to democracy can subscribe.
When we condemned the London bombings in the House on 20 February, at the outset of the debate the Tánaiste enunciated the principles which underpin  democracy. It is only by taking those principles fully on board that the problem can be solved.
In calling on Sinn Féin to use its influence to have the IRA restore the ceasefire, which for 18 months lifted the cloud of death and destruction from above our heads, it is important for us to recommit ourselves to the democratic way of consent, political compromise and dialogue. These things lie at the heart of the democratic process.
The parliaments of both islands, and their members, have a solemn obligation to defend and protect those democratic principles which are not always as secure as we believe them to be. The principles were accepted by all but one of the parties at the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. It was only in respect of one particular aspect that one party, Sinn Féin, could not accept all the principles.
The announcement that all party talks will commence on 10 June fulfils a central and continuing need of Sinn Féin. In these circumstances I see no reason why the republican movement cannot abandon the path of violence once and for all. The principles of non-violence were asserted in the report of the drafting committee of the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. At that time Sinn Féin confirmed that it accepted all the parts of that report save one.
If Sinn Féin wishes to participate in all party talks and if the central objective of its policy has been brought into effect, I see no reason why there should be any equivocation on its part about restoring the ceasefire. In this context, it might learn something from the restraint shown by loyalist para-militaries and their spokespersons. There are obligations not just on Sinn Féin but on all the parties which wish to participate in the talks to fully absorb the democratic principles which the Tánaiste enunciated for us on 20 February. John Alderdice made a telling intervention in The Irish Times when he said that in a democratic society, democratically elected politicians tell the generals  what to do, not the other way around.
I would like to pay tribute to the O'Brien Family who buried their son in Gorey yesterday. I do not believe what they said was particularly unusual — it reflected very accurately what many Irish people think. However, the circumstances in which they made that statement and the renunciation of violence implicit in it were extremely unusual. That is something on which we should reflect. We should also reflect on the fact that people have power. A large number of people marched at the weekend demanding an end to violence and when seen on the television across the water these marches and the O'Brien family statement had a powerful effect. People should not underestimate their power.
On the question of an election or a referendum — I believe it should be described as a plebiscite because it is not to change our Constitution — I share the views expressed by Senator Quinn about the dangers of an election. Tempers can fray and people can say things which are divisive. It is important that restraint is shown by all sides during that election. That is not to say that I oppose the principle of an election but I believe that words of caution need to be expressed in advance of it.
We must not reflect on how we divide or unite this island but on how we share it. That brings us back to something which the late Senator Wilson spoke about repeatedly — he described sharing this garden and how we should bring love and Christianity to bear. I believe his words still echo.
We are at a critical point or, as the Tánaiste described it, a fork in the road. We have two choices — the democratic path of consent and comprise or the path to utter destruction and chaos. If people consider those two stark choices sufficiently, they will come to only one conclusion — the path of the democratic politician.
Mr. Sherlock Mr. Sherlock
Mr. Sherlock: I congratulate the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste on seeking  agreement with the British Prime Minister to enhance the peace process. On 9 February following the IRA bomb at Canary Wharf there was a palpable sense of despair among the people on these islands. After 17 months during which democratic politicians had attempted to find a political route out of the conflict which claimed over 3,000 lives in 25 years, the IRA threatened to take us back to the start of that conflict.
It is a tribute to the resilience of democracy that following the resumption of the IRA's bombing campaign the peace process has been put back on course. It is a tribute also to the restraint shown by loyalist paramilitaries who refused to let the IRA bomb them back to violence. Most of all it is a tribute to the will for peace displayed by the citizens of these islands who have demonstrated in recent weeks that they will not allow their peace to be wilfully shattered. Last Sunday 2,000 citizens came together in Mallow, my home town, to walk for peace. They joined the estimated 100,000 people throughout the country in sending the IRA a simple message to stop.
Since Canary Wharf Sinn Féin has asked democratic politicians to give it a message to take to the IRA. Yesterday John Bruton and John Major gave it that message in the form of a framework for peace. A date for all-party talks has been fixed, a structure has been arranged within which consultation on an elective process can take place and the possibility of a North-South referendum has been ventilated. The two Governments have committed themselves to work in partnership with parties which are committed exclusively to peaceful means.
The door is now open to Sinn Féin to come in from the cold to which the IRA consigned it two weeks ago and to take part in all-party talks starting on 10 June. The ball is in the republican movement's court and Sinn Féin can either take the communiqué to the IRA and demand a renewed and permanent ceasefire or it can watch the process from the sidelines.
 Sinn Féin's reaction during the past 24 hours has perhaps been predictable. While extending a cautious welcome to the proposals, it has advanced a number of caveats, principally in relation to the proposal for an election. Having scrutinised the communiqué, I do not believe that its reservations are justified. It is understandably concerned that it may be treated differently from other democratic parties during the consultations and negotiations envisaged under the terms of the communiqué. No party likes to be denied parity of esteem, but in this case the remedy is in Sinn Féin's hands.
Sinn Féin knows that the two Governments, which draw their authority exclusively from the democratic process, cannot allow the line between democracy and violence to be blurred. The two Governments have responded generously to Sinn Féin's predicament following the IRA's decision to end the ceasefire. It is now up to Sinn Féin to exert pressure on the IRA to resume its ceasefire. Yesterday the people of these islands were presented with what may be the last chance for peace for a generation and it is incumbent on us all to ensure that that chance is not frittered away.
Mr. Roche Mr. Roche
Mr. Roche: Like other speakers I unreservedly and wholeheartedly welcome what has been achieved. Over a week ago I stood here and was scathing of the failure of political leadership which had led us to the current impasse. I was scathing of the political leaders who had sat around for 18 months and allowed the opportunity of peace to slip like sand through the collective fingers.
Canary Wharf and the other horrors in London have helped to settle people's minds. I believe too much time has passed and that we have now reached the position that we should have been in 12 months ago if we had seen real political leadership. However, in the time since we last spoke on this issue, the people have spoken in their tens of thousand not only to the leadership of Sinn Féin but to the IRA Army  Council. They also spoke clearly and unequivocally to the leaders of the political parties here and on the other island. A real effort has been made and it would be less than generous not to recognise that. There has been a real change of heart and of mind.
When I watched yesterday's debate in the House of Commons — I noticed the editorial analysis in today's The Irish Times came to the same conclusions — I was intrigued by the willingness to move which was not apparent a few weeks ago. This was the power of the people, the will of the thousands of men, women and children who walked on streets all over this island, north and south, and in the United Kingdom to demand peace and political leadership. A real effort has been made and we should recognise, assist and underpin that in every way.
What has been announced is a complex process fraught with potential difficulties. There are many minefields into which we could unknowingly stray and all too easily destroy the peace. The period of intensive negotiations from next week, which are quite similar to the proximity talks suggested by the Tánaiste, will demand a huge amount of goodwill. Those intensive negotiations must be underpinned by goodwill; there must be a willingness to go the extra mile. There must also be a willingness to be scathing and open in our hostility to anybody who puts up artificial barriers to progress.
Around Easter the British Government is to introduce legislation on elections in Northern Ireland. I share the view of other Senators that this is a potentially dangerous area. Elections by their nature are not only democratic but also raise the heat of political debate. Things can be said and done to appeal to the margins and there are potential dangers in that regard. There will be a special responsibility on all political leaders in Northern Ireland during those elections to ensure nothing is said or done to exacerbate the situation and tumble us back into the abyss.
 As Senator O'Sullivan said, there are some interesting proposals about the system of election. I wholeheartedly support the views of the SDLP and DUP leaderships — there is an extraordinary combination — when they both suggest that the list system would at least marginalise the least number of people. The referendum proposition is an extraordinary way of bringing the people into the process. However, I will be interested to see the wording of the referendum.
In all the negotiations over the last 18 months one thing has distressed me repeatedly — the absence of the word “justice”. Peace without justice is a chimera and we continuously forget that. St. Augustine made an interesting and intriguing comment about the nature of monarchs and monarchies and the concept of justice. He spoke about justice as the cement that kept civilised society together. Yesterday, in London, a memorial was unveiled to those who died in the Gulf War and the quotation used was that of St. Augustine on justice. The quotation is quite long but the gist of it is: Kingdoms without justice are mere monarchies of robbers.
This debate has gone on for 18 months and it should have reached this point a long time ago. However, let us not lose sight of one fact. Unless we can create institutions on this island, North and South, that will ensure not just peace for the present but justice for eternity, we are going nowhere. There is a huge burden on the shoulders of every political leader. It is time all politicians in the Oireachtas and in the Houses of Parliament got together to ensure that we measure our phrases and words carefully and that we do nothing that does not support the real efforts now taking place.
I commend everybody involved in this initiative. I was harshly critical before of what I regarded as a lack of leadership but we are now seeing the dawn of political leadership. I hope that will lead to peace and, above all, peace with justice.
Mr. McAughtry Mr. McAughtry
 Mr. McAughtry: My contribution will augment that of Senator Manning and other Senators in an appeal to the IRA to come back into the peace process.
It was right and proper for Sinn Féin to be told that they cannot be engaged in dialogue until IRA violence stops. The killing of the innocents and the maiming and scarring of dozens of others in Canary Wharf was the same type of random killing that has been condemned so often by Sinn Féin when loyalists have attacked Catholics at bus stops, pubs and bookmakers' shops. The two Englishmen who were killed in Canary Wharf were killed because they were English and for no other reason.
We hope the IRA will put down their arms, and soon. If they do so, it need not be seen as surrender to the British but in deference to the overwhelmingly expressed wish of the Irish people, North and South. The ceasefire showed that the IRA has able spokesmen in Sinn Féin. This is where the IRA's trust should be — in democratic debate and not in bombing.
Peace means many things to each of us. It means an improvement in the economy, more jobs, a higher and more enriched quality of life, a burden lifted from our people and a reason to smile and celebrate. However, when I imagine a peaceful situation, I think of the disadvantaged, the unemployed, the old and the single mothers in the areas where the paramilitaries on both sides have been most active and from where they have drawn their support. They made those people believe that nobody else cared.
I have walked the streets on both sides of the peace line. I have spoken to the children in primary schools and heard their headmasters say that they will not gain many O levels. Most of the pupils will leave school to go on the dole, their potential unrealised. This is the case in Catholic North Queen Street in Belfast, in the Protestant Shankill Road and in their counterparts throughout Northern Ireland. Outside schools graffiti scream sentiments that are eye popping, sulphurous and evil. A heavy  pall hangs over these areas. Yet, every once in a while, I have been invited into a little house, neatly kept, where pride of place on the mantelpiece is given to a photograph of a graduate with scroll, robes and mortar board. It represents a triumph over the type of adversity that cannot be imagined in this State which is so much at peace with itself.
Do the IRA not want the peace, the jobs, the ease of mind and to bring their people closer to the quality of life that exists in leafy suburbs? The way to do that is to come to an agreement. The working classes of both sides should sit down and resolve not to rise until their people are guaranteed a better life. The two working class communities in the North have more in common than divides them. The politicians closest to the loyalist paramilitaries have articulated their case with impressive fluency. They and Sinn Féin must be represented at talks aimed at a just settlement of our problem.
I have heard the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister remind Sinn Féin of the benefits the ceasefire brought to them — freedom of the airwaves, access to Governments, fundraising in America and so forth. However, what is rarely admitted by Nationalists in the North and what I never hear in the South is that Northern Ireland, as at present constituted, has to be the most closely monitored area on the planet for fair treatment electorally, in the workplace and where the State is concerned. All the abuses carried out by the old Stormont are subject to correction by law. Each day discrimination is being exposed and dealt with firmly. Fr. Seán McManus, who has worked for so long in the USA to expose imbalances in employment patterns, told me last summer that he is now satisfied with the machinery in place to ensure fair play. All of this is evident and can be demonstrated.
Those who warn about a return to the old Stormont rely on black and white television footage to make their case. They do not use colour television films because colour began to return to the  lives of those who had been badly treated by the State when colour was introduced to the television screen. There has been no need for republican violence or loyalist reaction for many years now. The loyalist arms are cold. The IRA should put theirs down and take their place once again with the Irish people. With democratic progress will come a new understanding and a new Ireland.
If the quarrel that separates Protestant and Catholic goes back for almost a century the IRA were wrong for losing their patience after only 17 months. I hope and trust that the IRA army council now realises this and will be fair to the emphatically expressed wishes of the Irish people.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach An Leas-Chathaoirleach
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: I compliment the Senator on his maiden speech.
Dr. Henry Dr. Henry
Dr. Henry: I, too, congratulate all those who negotiated over the last two weeks to bring the peace process further. I congratulate John Major in particular. In a week when he had terrible political trouble he managed to put this communiqué together. I was in Belfast last week and a woman said something which I found profoundly depressing. She said that too many groups wanted victory rather than peace. It is most important that we set our minds on making peace rather than make victory the objective.
By now the IRA must know that the breakdown in their ceasefire was a disastrous mistake. Having looked at the marches that took place all over the country last Sunday, they must know that the dreadful deeds they carried out in our name are condemned and disowned by everybody. I became familiar with some of the Sinn Féin leaders at the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation and I call on them to use their considerable political skills to have the ceasefire reinstated immediately.
We had the privilege of having Gordon Wilson, who was the father of a victim of the troubles in Northern Ireland,  serve as a Member of this House. Was he eventually a victim when we consider his untimely and sudden death and the great work he invested in trying to move the process along? We cannot allow any more victims or victims' families in Northern Ireland or elsewhere. It is very important that the IRA is aware that this is our view.
I always try to speak on behalf of the prisoners on both sides. They are important and it would be terrible if they were left in a political limbo until June. We must remember that there are loyalist and republican prisoners. Many people have stressed their importance to the development of the peace process and the establishment of the initial ceasefires. When elected, Senator McAughtry was wise to state that he would do everything possible to ensure that loyalist guns remain cold. We must do all we can to ensure that all guns remain cold. In any movement regarding the prisoners, some of whom have served 20 years in prison, we must remember that they and their families were disappointed and humiliated by the events which occurred when the IRA ceasefire broke down. We must rise above this and ensure that their predicament does not become a political football.
I realise that dangerous times lie ahead in the run up to elections. I am worried about the elective process because, regardless of the situation, margins are appealed to and tensions heightened.
Many people visited Northern Ireland during the past 17 months and I hope that this does not stop. To my horror, people informed me last week that they had cancelled trips to Northern Ireland for the St. Patrick's Day weekend. This will not help. Anyone who has established connections with Northern Ireland or plans to visit it in the coming months, should try not to make it seem more of a fortress than it is already. Those contacts should be maintained because they are very important to people in Northern Ireland, particularly  Unionists. In many situations, nothing is more fearful than the unknown.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn Mrs. Taylor-Quinn
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I compliment the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the British Prime Minister and the various Government Ministers on both sides of the divide who were involved in bring about this extremely important communiqué. The level of work, commitment, courage and dedication necessary to put this document together was quite extraordinary. The document contains a fine formula to return peace to this island.
It is clear, from the debates in both Houses, that people desire peace on this island. Last Sunday the people of Ireland, North and South, marched in their hundreds of thousands to convey the message that they want peace. This is a very challenging, important and difficult time for those at centre-stage, Sinn Féin and the Unionist parties. It is extremely important that Sinn Féin, which has followed a particular path for so long, reviews its political position and situation. It should consider the events of the past 25 years and what could happen in the future if they choose to adopt the democratic process. I say to Gerry Adams and his supporters that it is easy to return to the old route but it takes much courage and strength of character to change one's ways. This will involve serious consideration and consultation.
I was disappointed by Mr. Adams's comments, on the RTE lunchtime news, that we will not have all-party talks and that Sinn Féin is not being excluded from such talks by the IRA, but by the Taoiseach and Mr. Major. That is untrue and it is important that Sinn Féin accepts the reality that the ceasefire must recommence if they are to become involved in all-party talks. It is a fundamental, basic democratic principle from which one cannot shy away. This is a very challenging time for Sinn Féin and the IRA who must face the reality of changing their political position. They must decide that they will break into a new era by being courageous and becoming involved in the democratic process. This will take much courage  but they are receiving good and sound support from both Governments.
Yesterday's communiqué, particularly paragraph 10, was very encouraging. It states that the parties will proceed to reach widespread agreement on proposals for a broadly acceptable elective process leading directly, and without preconditions, to all-party negotiations on 10 June 1996. In the interim, a very important week of discussions will take place between 4-13 March. That will be a difficult week for all parties to put forward their cases and positions. However, it is important that Sinn Féin and the IRA realise that the political process is very different from the military one and that that process is much slower than their former path. I appeal to them to consider this fact and ensure that they opt for the democratic process because it is the wish of the people that they do so.
I compliment elements of the Unionist parties, particularly Messrs. Adamson, McMichael, Ervine, Barr and Hutchinson, who have been very responsible in not retaliating against recent events. They have shown courage and leadership. I was encouraged by Mr. Ervine's response to the communiqué when he stated that the people of Northern Ireland need no longer look into a black hole and consider it their future. He has given leadership to his community and his people. The challenge is now with Sinn Féin and Mr. Trimble, who must abandon the old ways of his party and look to the future in a much more progressive and positive way.
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Ms Burton) Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Ms Burton)
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Ms Burton): Following recent events, people have moved from the optimism and hope experienced at the time of the publication of the Downing Street Declaration, the subsequent publication of the framework document and the issuing of a joint communiqué last November. I agree with Senators' comments that we permitted ourselves a period of understandable optimism. This awakened us  to the idea of new visions and openness in relation to other points of view, particularly in the context of the very deep differences that exist between the parties in Northern Ireland and the differences in values between the two traditions on this island.
The breakdown of the ceasefire came as a great shock to most people, both North and South, including participants in the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation and those involved in cross community and cross-Border contact. Although we knew, and were being continuously told, that people were worried and fearful about a breakdown, many were reluctant to believe it would take place, so great were the fruits of the ceasefire. Almost immediately after the Canary Wharf bombing I recall talking to a person in the North who is closely involved in community development and who has in many ways been living in a kind of paradise of openness, growth and experience over the past 18 months. She told me she was shocked at the idea that she would have to tell her teenage daughters that they would not be able to go into Belfast in future without giving some consideration to security matters.
Although the most appalling things happened since the breakdown of the ceasefire, if we can get it back on track we will enter the next stage of the process with a more realistic view in some respects. It is not that the time for optimism is over, but that, in addition to optimism, we will have a period of intense realism.
I am conscious there are many Senators with esteemed qualifications in history. Members of Sinn Féin are fond of drawing analogies with other conflicts around the world and how they were resolved. They are especially fond of drawing analogies with the end of apartheid in South Africa. The two conflicts are not directly comparable. Nevertheless, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness continuously refer, in a warm and emotional way, to what happened in South Africa. I have heard  them express views on this on a number of occasions and have reminded them that it took four years for South Africa to get to the point from the release of Nelson Mandela to the holding of elections.
It may appear the process in South Africa was very fast but this was not the case. The four years before the elections have been been preceded by a period of approximately six years when the most intense changes took place in the white community, especially in the business community, where minds and hearts opened up.
On the issue of changes and comparisons with other peace processes, if members of Sinn Féin use and want to use South Africa as a model they should look at what happened there and bear in mind that Nelson Mandela, the ANC and its armed wing indicated from a very early stage that, once the process had started in a serious way, they would put aside the option of armed conflict.
Furthermore, the comparisons are not direct because in South Africa a majority, comprising an enormous number, were excluded by an oppressive and vicious system from any effective participation in political life. Members of Sinn Féin should look again at the history of South Africa. They should look at the role of the referendum which de Klerk called at a certain stage in the process when it appeared it was falling apart. It resulted in him getting the authority of the white community to continue.
If members of Sinn Féin want to look at other peace processes around the world they should not only look at the positive elements from their perspective, and possibly that of the IRA, but also at what the negotiators from the physical force side were prepared to yield. In the South African peace process, it was clear from shortly after Nelson Mandela left jail that violence was being set aside and that this was the cornerstone of what the ANC was prepared to offer to a non racial — not a multi racial — South Africa. In this respect Sinn Féin stands at the cross-roads  where it has an option to take a specific path of participation.
During the peace rallies of last weekend many people from all walks of life, age groups and backgrounds in Ireland walked quietly and determinedly to show their support for the peace movement. I took part in the rally in Dublin. It was remarkable and moving that the people on the sidewalk — I have marched down O'Connell Street on many occasions in support of different causes — clapped the marchers who clapped in return. It was a collective, community feeling where people were simply saying they wanted peace.
It would be unrealistic as we proceed not to expect that there will be difficulties. However, the bullet which the IRA must bite is that the overwhelming majority of people on the island want a process of negotiation leading to a peace settlement. They do not want a process that has the threat of violence hanging over it. I recognise that the IRA, and especially Sinn Féin, have come a long way in their thinking over the past 18 months. However, Nelson Mandela, references to whom they continuously employ, told people: “. . . walk the extra mile with me”. Sinn Féin must tell the IRA to walk the extra mile with those in Sinn Féin, and there are many, who have positively opted for the democratic process and who are seeking to take the gun out of Irish politics.
If we can get this we then require on the Unionist side equivalent generosity. We also need imagination. We do not need the Unionist parties to simply stress their majority; we in the Republic are aware of it. In the context of the Framework Document and the Downing Street Declaration, the principle of consent has been enunciated and accepted by all parties in the House. The Unionist majority is not something which is being debated; it is accepted.
We need a leap of imagination from the Unionists which will allow them to join the process, and not simply in a protective sense of hanging on to what they hold. When one enters into a peace process, and again referring to the analogies  with successful peace processes elsewhere, one must be prepared to give ground. We, and they, must give ground. We and they must approach the process with an open mind and be prepared to acknowledge in a deeper way our differences and our respect for those differences.
The past 18 months and what has happened in terms of bringing the process to an end have particularly shown that although huge numbers of people and organisations have made efforts to develop cross-Border and cross-community links, the process has not been wide or deep enough to bring about the kind of change of heart and opinion which happened in South Africa in the case of the white community and in the context of the Arab-Israeli negotiations.
We must keep moving on two levels. There is undoubtedly the political level but parallel to and underpinning this are the attitudes of ordinary people and cross-community and cross-Border contacts. In this context the proposals put forward by Mr. John Hume on what may correctly be called a plebiscite as opposed to a referendum are particularly interesting.
In the context of the theology — I will not say ideology — of the IRA, a small number of people close to or members of the IRA and Sinn Féin see a kind of mystical mandate emanating from 1918. The plebiscite process would allow all the people, North and South, to have a say on the parameters of the negotiating process by, for instance, giving their assent to the key recommendations of the Mitchell report. The proposal for a plebiscite has a great deal of merit because it would validate what is clearly the will of almost every man, woman and child on this island.
Various Senators spoke about the dangers of an election and the elective process. I have listened to Mr. David Trimble over the past few weeks. Many regard the interview he gave on RTE last Sunday as narrow and rigid but its content, particularly his comments on elections, showed a great deal of movement and a great area to be explored.
 It is difficult for most democrats, particularly outside Ireland, to understand what we have to fear from an election. On the other hand, all of us on this island cogently understand what elections in the North imply. However, to say to people abroad we have an inherent difficulty with elections is asking for a degree of understanding which is not there.
Points have been made about the use of a list system in any election and the Leader suggested an index system. Such systems would remove personal bitterness and bare knuckle fighting from an election, would allow it to be about ideas in the context of negotiations and the mandates of the negotiating parties and allow the smaller loyalist parties to be involved. These points are critically important.
During the last 18 months there has been a flowering of community activities in many communities which have the closest contact with both republican and loyalist paramilitary organisations. There has been the development of many strong and fine personalities who have been involved in community organisations in both communities. However, many of them have no political party with which to identify; such is the nature of change in Northern Ireland since the ceasefire. A list type system would allow some of these organisations and the smaller loyalist linked parties to participate.
One does not have to stress that the participation of women in political parties in the North is at an incredibly low level. When I visit community based organisations there, I meet hundreds of women, many of whom are of extraordinarily fine calibre. They are not involved in political parties but are very much involved in community politics. I hope that a more refined electoral process, involving the list system, would allow for the much broader participation of women on those lists. The participation of women in serious numbers in the whole negotiating process can only benefit both communities. I hope  the negotiations and proximity talks may result in developments on this issue.
I thank the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste for their tremendous work. I thank the officials of the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs for their work over the past few weeks. From personal contact with them I know the personal toll involvement in the process has taken on many of them. It is appropriate that in a generous way we should congratulate the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs on their achievement yesterday, which gives us an opportunity to recover some of what we lost and to go forward in a more realistic vein to the next stage of the process. I compliment the leader of Fianna Fáil for the thoughtful speeches and articles he has contributed, which showed an extraordinarily effective bipartisanship during this difficult period. The leader of the Progressive Democrats, Deputy Harney, also played an extremely constructive role.
The ball is now in the court of Sinn Féin and I hope it has the capacity to respond in a historically appropriate way to a historic opportunity, not just for us here but for everybody on this island, particularly the young people who were born during the troubles and have had for the last 18 months a taste of normal life. They have experienced the growth, blossoming and sheer enjoyment which Belfast and other cities have offered over the last 18 months. I think of the joy of the crowd the evening Van Morrisson played in Royal Avenue before the US President, Mr. Bill Clinton, came on stage. I hope that what happened yesterday will allow us to recapture some of this mood, particularly for young people, and to move forward with realism,
An Leas-Chathaoirleach An Leas-Chathaoirleach
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: When is it proposed to sit again?
Mr. Manning Mr. Manning
Mr. Manning: Next Wednesday at 2.30 p.m.
Seanad Éireann 146 Northern Ireland: Statements.