Northern Ireland signed an peace agreement April 10, 1998. That’s now more than 15 years old. It’s called the “Good FridayAgreement,” or the GFA. It concluded a war between the Nationalist/Catholics; Unionist/Protestants; and the British Colonial power.
More than 3,500 deaths are related to the “Troubles,” between 1968 and 1998.
The GFA created a panel to investigate the killings but has yet to review about 600 cases, involving 800 deaths. Few people knew that the British, besides supporting the Loyalists’ Death Squads, also ran their own death squads.
Of course, if anyone in the Human Rights community in this country attempted to point that out, they could be expected to be branded as “supporters of terrorism” by the British Propaganda Machine.
Back Story: I remember celebrating the signing of the GFA at an evening lawn party at the White House. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton were present. The President invested a lot of his time in bringing about the GFA. It was one of his crowning achievements.
On Tuesday a hearing was held in Washington, D.C., Capitol Hill, in the Rayburn Building. Its purpose was to check on the status of the GFA. It was conducted by a joint subcommittees of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. One was chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R) of New Jersey and another by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).
Dr. Richard N. Haass (above) was the key witness. He is the President of the Council on Foreign Relations and once served as the U.S. Special Envoy to the “Northern Ireland Peace Process.”
Haass knows what the story is in the north of Ireland. He said it’s important to deal with the violence-filled past, the unsolved murders, “as a process.”
As a result of recently working personally on all the hot-button issues that have bitterly divided the two communities, he said: “The peace process…has not brought about what might be described as a ‘normal society.’ It’s easier to reach an agreement to end a war, then it is to do so to build a peace.”
Haass cautioned that the failure to move forward on the peace process might cause the “violence” from the paramilitaries to reignite.
Chairman Rohrabacher also made a telling comment that we wouldn’t have any of these problems [today], if the British hadn’t partitioned Ireland back in the 1920’s. He put it this way: “The bottom line is Ireland is Ireland and they are all Irish. Had that (The Partition) not happened, we would not be facing this issue right now.”
Bill Hughes is a native of Baltimore. He’s an attorney, author, professional actor and hobbyist photographer. In his salad days, he worked on the docks as a longshoreman. Bill also played on three championship soccer teams: sandlot with Jules Morstein; high school at Calvert Hall; and college at the University of Baltimore.