Northern Ireland

Update: 24th March 2008 – Ahern to Honour Blair – 10th Anniversary Celebrations

31st July, 2007


As the army departs at midnight I’ve not found it easy to find Tony Blair’s name anywhere in the reports. You’d think SOMEBODY might recall that he had something to do with it! And since we have a penchant in this country for the “troops out” call – where’s the thanks!?

To be absolutely blunt – I’m completely pee’d off with them. No point in getting the troops out of Iraq Mr Brown, no-one will thank you! You might as well stay there and win. Don’t be tempted to throw up your hands in surrender to such as the British press and commenters. They are clearly NOT worth it.

I submitted this to The Telegraph – and I must have been one of the few who thought politicians had anything to do with it.


I sent this comment to a Guardian Cif page tonight. Go and see what YOU think of the comments.

“After 38 years Operation Banner is over in Northern Ireland. That’s something worth celebrating.

I’m only moved to write here because I notice that there is virtually NO mention of the political influence in this. It’s almost as though the army just decided it was time to go.

Some people here are going over what was personal to THEM, in their community; what happened to them. I suppose that is natural, but what is the point of it?

There seems to be a lesson we cynics need to learn. It was hard working politicians on ALL sides that brought the troubles to an end, with the consent of the people.

I know you’ve all forgotten our previous prime minister, and he never seems to look for thanks, but I really think there is something VERY questionable about our judgement if we do not recognise that without Tony Blair the army would likely still be there.

Politicians on ALL sides in NI, and Irish, and American ALL helped. But it was politics that did it for the people. And Blair was the moving force in bringing the sides & factions together.

We, whose instincts often seem to discount politics, should never forget that.

8th May, 2007


A Challenge: Look at the picture below and DON’T SMILE!
(I hope you simply could NOT do it. I can’t, and I’ve looked at it several times)

Martin McGuinness, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, Tony Blair, Peter Hain NI Secretary of State and Ian Paisley. (The only one missing is Gerry Adams).

Who’d have thought it? Well, all of them, for a start. Well done to them.

And if looking at the picture brings a tear to your eyes in recognition of all the lost lives and wasted years, that’s a normal, human reaction too. And all the more reason we should hope, and pray if we believe it helps, that it’ll work

I have to agree with Tony Blair and Martin McGuinness, (and that’s possibly the first time I’ve agreed with the latter), that the opening of Stormont today in Belfast is mainly thanks to the people – the voters.

But they needed the guiding hand of consensual politicians along the way. That they have all proved to be, including our own prime minister, Tony Blair. Of him we should be proud.

Watch Tony Blair discuss the road to devolution on the opening day of Stormont, 8 May 2007.

Asked if Iraq, rather than Northern Ireland will be how we remember Tony Blair, he said that he leaves that to others.

Asked how he felt, he said, “I do feel … emotionally … I hope it will give heart to optimists everywhere.”

View “HISTORIC return” video – inside Stormont

26th March, 2007


[Pic: Paisley & Adams share a table and the future of democracy in N.I.]paisleyadams26march07.jpg

“Fingers crossed”, said a schoolgirl on an education trip to Stormont on this momentous day.

Six weeks IS a long time in politics, and not until 8th May can we feel confident that Northern Ireland’s devolved government is finally settled.

But, to many political watchers the picture of Ian Paisley of the DUP and Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein actually sitting down together to seize the moment was a day they feared they might never see.

After thirty eight years of recent troubles the centuries old conflict MIGHT, just might be over. True, it is the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end, but hopefully this time will be NO FALSE START.


Since the time of Ted Heath when the Sunningdale agreement of 1974 looked hopeful, British Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland and several prime ministers worked relentlessly to bring this day to completion.

At the end of the 1980s the British government accepted that their military struggle was going nowhere. In 1993 John Major said to both sides, “drop the violence and you will have a share of power”. But bombings and killings continued.


After just a few months in power Tony Blair seriously grabbed the bull by the horns. Within 12 months of his coming to power the Good Friday agreement was signed.

It should be said that John Major too deserves credit for beginning the process. The strategy began in the 1990s with John Major and Sir Patrick Mayhew, his Northern Ireland Secretary of State.


But today brings together the great survivors of the conflict from opposite sides. The men who would “never, never, NEVER” work together.

For that, Tony Blair, the great persuader, deserves arguably MOST praise and the ulitmate recognition.

Referring to something that has never happened before, Peter Hain said on Newsnight tonight, “Now the politicians have worked together before they’ve shared power”.

Praising also John Major’s contribution, he said that Tony Blair has given “forensic attention to Northern Ireland in a way no prime minister has ever done, bringing together Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley.”


Probably now, simply because the time is right.

Much has been made of Tony Blair’s legacy but the main elements in this political chess game are Adams and above all Paisley, the latter being the lynchpin.

It is likely as not Ian Paisley’s legacy which is being written now by an aging politician, almost 81, who knows that the people of Northern Ireland are moving relentlessly towards a peaceful settlement, with or without him. It might as well be with.

There are many others whose input has been significant and highly important, Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister at the top of this list. But since control of Northern Ireland, even in its devolved state, is still Britain’s, it is to our Prime Minister that we should turn our attention.

The British Prime Minister’s hand has always been the hardest to hold, control and play. We shoul dremember that only last July Ian Paisley said that Sinn Fein would NEVER share power in a devolved assembly. What, or who has changed his mind?


From the beginning, Tony Blair has grasped the nettle of Northern Ireland. In October 1997, five months after his first general election win, Tony Blair shook Gerry Adams’ hand and became the first British PM for 70 years to meet a Sinn Fein delegation.

IRA declares Ceasefire

The Good Friday Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement) was reached in Belfast on Friday, April 10 1998.

It set out a plan for devolved government in Northern Ireland on a stable and inclusive basis and provided for the creation of Human Rights and Equality commissions, the early release of terrorist prisoners, the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons and far reaching reforms of criminal justice and policing.

But on 14th October 2002 Stormont was suspendedA breakdown in trust between Northern Ireland’s political parties gave the British Government no option but to suspend the Assembly in October 2002. Direct rule from London followed and until today, 26th March 2007, the Assembly remained suspended.The Government’s ultimate goal is the restoration of an inclusive power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland and since suspension both the British and Irish Governments have been engaged in intensive talks with the political parties to bring direct rule to an end.Efforts to restore devolution culminated in 3 days of talks at St Andrews, Scotland.The St Andrews Agreement was published on the 13th October 2006.The Secretary of State introduced legislation (Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill) to Parliament to pave the way for restoration of devolved Government in Northern Ireland.Since the signing of the Agreement on April 10, 1998, society in Northern Ireland has changed for the better.The British government also moved forward on a number of other key areas, including how to deal with victims of the troubles, and human rights. It also committed itself to tackling all forms of organised crime through the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF)Key Issues

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4 Responses to “Northern Ireland”

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