Talks outcome ‘will define a generation's fate' Minister Burke
Talks outcome ‘will define a generation's fate' - Minister Burke
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Ray Burke, T.D., has described the talks which resume on Tuesday next as "the most important negotiations to face this country since the Treaty of 1921. Their outcome will define a generation's fate. Those participating should rightly feel the burden not of the past but also of the future. It is up to all of us to get this right".
Minister Burke, who was delivering the annual Liam Lynch Oration in Fermoy, said that the current situation required "all political leaders to engage in the hard and complex art of the possible". In a speech that paid a warm tribute to Liam Lynch and his generation for the patriotic mission they undertook in the name of all the people of Ireland, Mr Burke said that the tragedy of Northern Ireland remains the greatest outstanding problem facing us today as a people. "The passage of time, the chronicle of missed opportunities and the futile cycle of violence must be recalled and remembered as warnings that the solution to this complex and difficult problem will not be easy. It will require patience, foresight, forbearance and ultimately compromise", he said.
"Compromise", he noted, "is the greatest challenge of all. To foreswear the dictates of extremism and to act in the name of humanity and the greater good requires real leadership and great courage. But as the history of our State demonstrates, the rewards of compromise, cooperation and mutual enhancement are real and many. Northern Ireland has yet to see the benefits of compromise and mutual accommodation. That must be the real endgame. The peace process is just that - a process, a means to an end".
Standing at the grave of an Irish patriot, the Minister recalled that the great and defining principle of Irish republicanism "is fundamentally one of tolerance and recognition of the rights and identities of others. It seeks, as its core value, to build the fabric of political and community life on these cherished values. At times, this message has been lost amid the hue and cry of political exchange, but it is the very core of our political philosophy".
Minister Burke said that "it remains my view, and that of Fianna Fáil, that in the longer term a united Ireland achieved by agreement still offers the best and most durable basis for peace and stability. Violence can never bring the peoples of this island together, but only push them further apart. While eventual Irish unity brought about in peace and agreement is the wish of most Irish people at home and abroad, that can only come about by the consent, freely given, of all the people of Ireland, North and South. To do otherwise, would fail to substitute the common name of Irishman for our divisions and would perpetuate a new injustice that would dishonour us all. All of us have a responsibility to champion the peaceful mantle of republican belief in this island".
"We recognise the need to consolidate and build constructively on the work done on social, economic and cultural co-operation. Accepting legitimate constitutional differences, it is our commitment to do all that we can to bring closer together the people of this island in a new and agreed Ireland.
A lasting peace will only be achieved through the creation of an inclusive democratic process with equality of treatment and parity of esteem for all sections of the community. We have an historic challenge and an unprecedented opportunity now to enter into political negotiations with all of the major parties in Northern Ireland", the Minister said.
Referring to the forthcoming negotiations, Mr Burke said that "for the first time, these can take place in a peaceful environment. It is incumbent on all of us to seize this opportunity and make the negotiations work, for the consequences of our failing are too horrendous to contemplate. Having enjoyed the fruits of peace and stability we must do all in our power to create the conditions in which it becomes as deeply rooted throughout our island. This means achieving a lasting political settlement that will guarantee all of the people living in Northern Ireland a just and equal society".
The Minister expressed the hope that "all of the parties, including the Unionists, will be represented at the negotiating table. It is crucial that they are". "It is our judgement and belief", he said, "that the political leadership of Sinn Fein have shown that they are seriously committed to the peace process and the search for a just and lasting peace in Ireland".
"We must ensure that there can and will be no domination of Nationalists by Unionists and equally - and I emphasise this - none of Unionists by Nationalists. We must find a balanced way of reflecting and accommodating the different aspirations and political allegiances of the two communities in Ireland".
"Political leaders North and South need to be brave enough to come out from behind our respective ideological ramparts, and join together in advancing the fortunes of our people in areas where cooperation is both mutually rewarding and enriching", the Minister said.
On the subject of decommissioning, Mr Burke said that "we all want to take the gun out of Irish politics for good. Decommissioning is an important part of that. But we must not allow arguments on how decommissioning is to be achieved to block political progress. The best and only way to resolve the decommissioning issue is by implementing all aspects of the Mitchell report of January 1996".
In conclusion, he said that: "Lasting peace is possible. A just settlement is possible. The ideal of Wolfe Tone is possible. Let us take inspiration from Liam Lynch and his generation. Their dream of an independent Ireland amongst the nations of the world seemed impossible yet it was realised in the Ireland we have today. Let us now rise to the challenges of the peace process".Top