The Guardian September 12, 2001


Ireland: Bigotry on the march

The disgraceful scenes along North Belfast's Ardoyne Rd, where little 
girls going to their local Catholic school have been subjected to sectarian 
abuse and terrifying intimidation, shows the desperate need for the Irish 
peace process to regain its impetus and for the Good Friday Agreement to be 
put back on course.

Loyalist politicians like Ian Paisley and the Democratic Unionist Party, 
who have all along opposed the Good Friday Agreement and supposed moderates 
like David Trimble and the Ulster Unionists, who have succumbed to pressure 
from the anti-Agreement lobby, are just as guilty.

They are responsible because the deteriorating climate created by the 
suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the stalling of the peace 
process has given fresh encouragement to the most bigoted loyalist elements 
and to loyalist armed gangs.

Above all the responsibility lies with the British ruling class which 
continues to use Unionists as front line troops in Britain's struggle to 
hold on to colonial power.

Yet the British Government pretends to be powerless and has failed to 
vigorously defend the terms of the Good Friday Agreement (which, contrary 
to unionist claims, does not make the decommissioning of weapons a pre-
requisite for the peace process to go forward).

The British Government has failed to put its weight behind the modest 
proposals of the Patten Report into policing in the north of Ireland, 
giving hard-line unionists a signal that nothing is really going to change.

Despite the recent violence, the vast majority of people in the north of 
Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant, want to live in peaceful communities 
and to see an end to both sectarian and state violence. The peace process 
is the way forward for everyone. Without it the clock will go back and 
another generation will grow up in a world of fear and plastic bullets.

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New Worker

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