28 December 2005

‘Blair the betrayer’

Daily Ireland

Powerful Irish-American groups launch fierce attack on British Prime Minister

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Irish-America’s most senior political leaders have strongly criticised the British government’s handling of the peace process.
In an open letter to prime minister Tony Blair yesterday, the Irish-American lobby, which represents a number of powerful organisations, called for the immediate reinstatement of the North’s devolved political institutions.
Irish-American leaders also insisted “an open and transparent inquiry” must now be established “into how and why Britain's intelligence services brought the Assembly down”.
The North’s power-sharing Assembly was unilaterally collapsed by the British government in October 2002 following allegations of a so-called ‘republican spy-ring’.
The ‘spy-ring’ allegations fell apart earlier this month when three Belfast men – including senior Sinn Féin member Denis Donaldson – were found not guilty after the Public Prosecution Service decided not to proceed to trial. Mr Donaldson has since admitted he was a paid agent for PSNI Special Branch and MI5 at the time of his arrest in October 2002.
“The Assembly, despite its limitations, provided the people of the North of Ireland with their first opportunity for democratic debate and self-government on a genuinely representative basis since the partition of Ireland 85 years ago,” the Irish American leaders said.
“It was a remarkable achievement for tolerance and fairness by all the parties involved in reaching the Good Friday Agreement.
“However, successive British Secretaries of State have twice acted unilaterally to shutter the gates of Stormont and shatter the aspirations of people of all political and religious persuasions in the North of Ireland. In this latest debacle, the only ‘spy-ring’ at Stormont was that orchestrated by the British security services themselves.”
Describing the implications as “serious in the extreme”, the Irish American leaders accused the British government of having “betrayed” the people of Ireland and Britain.
“British officials promised devolved government: British officials have violated that promise and manipulated the fragile institutions of power-sharing. The result is that, nearly eight years after the Good Friday Agreement, those institutions have been in operation for only 20 months, with direct rule from Britain for the overwhelming majority of the time.
“Your government bears the responsibility for bringing down the freely and democratically elected Assembly. If this happened in any other part of the world, a British Prime Minister would be first in line to condemn such police state misconduct. The peoples of Ireland and Britain are all stakeholders in the peace process. The United States, through President Clinton and his special envoy, Senator Mitchell, played a vital role in building cross-community confidence and securing the Good Friday Agreement.
“That confidence has been betrayed and all concerned have the right to demand a thorough and transparent investigation into the conduct of those responsible.
“Unless British security services are operating without control and accountability, senior persons in your government must have known throughout that ‘Stormontgate' was a fraud and that Donaldson was working for your own security services.
“With cross-community confidence now at an all-time low, your government bears the responsibility for restoring hope and breathing new life into a moribund peace process.
“At the very least, all stakeholders in the peace process have the right to an open and transparent inquiry into how and why Britain's intelligence services brought the Assembly down three years ago.
“Just as importantly, the British government has to show the resolve necessary by immediately reinstating the political institutions and make the Good Friday Agreement work,” the Irish American leaders said.

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