Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has new troubles with the past not six months since being released from police questioning about the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville.
This time around Adams and republicans are facing harsh accusations about how they handled, or mishandled, allegations of rape by members of the IRA. Adams claims the charges are being politicized by opponents.
For perspective on IRA justice during the Troubles and the political implications of this scandal, in the North and the Republic, read this piece by Brian Feeney. He is head of history at St Mary’s University College in Belfast, and the author of Sinn Féin: A Hundred Turbulent Years and Insider: Life in the IRA.
An additional note about the North: former U.S. Senator and two-time presidential candidate Gary Hart has appointed to help jump-start political negotiations in Northern Ireland. As the Belfast Telegraph says with a sigh, Hart is “the latest in a decades-long parade of special U.S. peace process envoys — and a man long off the radar of mainstream American political life.”
But the story also contains this reality check:
One Washington insider with long-time involvement in Irish affairs said that Belfast’s politicians shouldn’t take high-level US governmental attention for granted. “Northern Ireland, like lots of places around the world, tends to think that their problems are the biggest on the board. And they aren’t,” he said.
Can Hart finish the work on “flags, parades and the past” that Richard Haas nearly concluded at the end of 2013? Let’s see.
Northern Ireland political parties failed to adopt a proposed agreement on flags, parades and the legacy of the Troubles in the final hours of 2013. But the proposal by Dr. Richard Haass has been published by the government.
We in Northern Ireland have come a long way. … Despite [many] positive steps, we have further distance to travel. Many continue to await the end of sectarianism and the peace dividend that should be all citizens’ due.
Here’s a quick keyword highlight from the text: flag/s, 36; past, 42; union, 5; republican, 1; Catholic, 0; Protestant, 0; parade/s, 37; (political) parties, 27; Good Friday Agreement, 4; vote, 2; violence, 15; peace, 13.
RTE reports that Haass will return to Northern Ireland on Saturday.
Dr Richard Haass has left Northern Ireland without an agreement on flags, parades and the past. He is considering whether to return to try to complete a deal by the New Year’s deadline, the Irish-American Information Service reports.
Dr Haass and his American talks team including Harvard professor Meghan OSullivan flew home to the United States out of Dublin this morning after late night/early morning talks with the five main Northern parties failed to produce an agreement.
Negotiations concluded this morning at about 4.30am after almost eight hours of talks with progress made but with no final meeting of minds by the five parties of the Northern Executive – the DUP, Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionist Party and Alliance.
Dr Haass said he was prepared to return at the weekend if he felt an agreement could yet be achieved.
Special U.S. envoy Dr. Richard Haass has indicated he is pleased with the progress of talks to resolve still-contentious issues in Northern Ireland.
Richard Haass from Belfast Telegraph
“I believe there is a real chance to succeed,” Haass was quoted in a story by the Irish Independent. “But, that is just that – a real chance is not a guarantee. Obviously it depends upon the willingness of some people to make some tough decisions and then defend them.”
The talks, which are to conclude by Christmas, are focused on outstanding issues not dealt with by the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement: flags and emblems; parades; and dealing with the legacy of the past.
According to the Belfast Telegraph: Haass is best known as the former US Envoy to Northern Ireland from 2001-03. He has been president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a US think-tank, since 2003. He previously worked for the US State Department and received its Distinguished Honor Award for his work in Northern Ireland.