• Short Summary

    One year after the Sunningdale agreement held out a tantalising hope of eventual peace in Northern Ireland, the Killing has become more callous, political initiatives are in ruins, and despondency has turned to despair.

  • Description

    One year after the Sunningdale agreement held out a tantalising hope of eventual peace in Northern Ireland, the Killing has become more callous, political initiatives are in ruins, and despondency has turned to despair.

    But form the start, plans for a power-sharing executive on which Catholics and Protestants were to be represented were bitterly attacked by the loyalist triumvirate, Vanguard, the Democratic Unionist Party and the anti-Faulkner Unionists.

    The Sunningdale proposals for a Council of Ireland, recognising the all--Ireland-dimension of the problem to plan such matters as tourism, and electricity, was anathema to the Rev. Paisley and his supporters.

    It was the Rev. Paisley himself who led the disruption of meetings of the new northern Ireland Assembly.

    The Sunningdale agreement was finally sunk in June this year when strikes organised by the Ulster Workers Council brought down the Province's government -- the power sharing executive that was supposed to undermine support for the Provisional I.R.A. by giving Catholics legitimate outlets for their political aspirations.

    Now many people in Northern Ireland believe that conventional politics have become irrelevant. Even Oliver Napier, leader of the moderate non-sectarian Alliance Party claims there is now "no effective Government form London, local politicians have no power and the paramilitaries have stepped in."
    Twenty six people were victims of sectarian assassinations in November, the majority of them Catholics.

    Two of them were young girls working as petrol pump attendants when they were shot.

    Michael Brennan a youth leader was playing table tennis in St. Mary's youth club when a gunman poked his hand through a broken window and fired a fatal shot. Eight year old Elaine Hamilton watched two gunmen walk into her family's shop in West Belfast and shoot her father Thomas through the chest. Just two retaliation killings in the violence that seems to have no end.

    "it doesn't mater who you kill, as long as he is from the other side", commented Ulster's chief policeman James Flanagan on the attitudes of the assassins.

    In April the death toll in Ulster's five years of troubles reached 1,000. Ironically the 1000th death, was of Joshep Neill, who was blown
    The present upsurge of violence began in late September when two leading members of the Northern Ireland judiciary were shot down while making breakfast in their homes. And now with the Provisionals taking revenge for the activities of Protestant murder squads, there are fears that the much feared civil war that has been threatening for years may now be breaking out.

    Even within the extremist organisations there is increasing evidence that control has passed to the hardliners.

    The British Government's political plans to prevent the daily mounting toll of dead and injured has at its core the forthcoming Ulster Constitution Convention. Elections for this Convention will be held not later than March next year -- the second anniversary of direct British rule.

    After the failure of sunningdale -- a largely British Government initiative -- the convention will be charged with finding "an Ulster solution within Ulster itself".

    The White Paper announcing the Convention made it clear that no solution would work effectively, to be acceptable to the Westminster Parliament, unless it provided a basis of power sharing in government, and took note that a relationship does exist between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

    It is overwhelmingly likely that the election to the Convention will produce a solid Protestant majority and that the majority will then refuse to share power with the minority Social Democratic and Labour Party.

    The impasse seems total, for the SDLP are unlikely to give up the prospect of real power sharing, for mere representation on Government committees, which Mr. William Craig of the United Ulster Unionist Council says is the maximum Loyalists will accept.

    So the feeling of terrible inevitability grows among a people becoming inured to violence, with each new death marking little more than a statistic in the upward spiral of violence.

    More and more people, protestants as well as Catholics, particularly those with young children, are now leaving the Province for a peaceful life elsewhere.

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