Keep talking on N. Ireland
THOSE longing for peace in Northern Ireland cannot help being troubled by events of recent days. Wednesday night's bombing in central Belfast, in which two soldiers were killed, comes on the heels of the shooting death of a young man, in connection with which a British soldier has been taken into custody. These and other incidents are coming against a backdrop of British government and judicial decisions that have the Irish wondering how seriously Westminster is taking its responsibilities under the Anglo-Irish accord, which gives Dublin a consultative role in governing Northern Ireland.Skip to next paragraph
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Most troubling was the decision not to publish the report of the inquiry into whether there had been a shoot-to-kill policy during November and December 1982, when half a dozen unarmed civilians died at police hands, and not to prosecute anyone in connection with the case. In response to popular outcry - within Britain as well as from across the Irish Sea - two new inquiries are to be opened into the matter. The British say they are prepared to mete out harsh discipline as evidence warrants, but not to hold criminal trials. The Irish continue to press for publication of the original report; the British resist on grounds it would be dangerous to their crucial system of informants.
This and other issues, taken together, have the potential for a terrible tragedy of miscommunication and undoing the hard-won gains achieved through the Anglo-Irish accord. But at least the negotiating machinery set up by the accord is still working. Let's hope both sides can keep talking long enough to find mutually satisfactory answers.