Northern Ireland news

Removing the gun from Irish politics was 'not nurtured'

The Official IRA decommissioned its weapons in 2010

A senior cleric who helped oversee IRA decommissioning has said the opportunity created by removing the gun from Irish politics "has not been nurtured".

The Irish News yesterday revealed details of the previously secretive decommissioning process, including pictures of arms given up by the Official IRA .

Thousands of weapons were taken out of circulation through the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, working with the leadership of loyalist and republican organisations.

Methodist minister Rev Harold Good was picked along with Redemptorist priest Fr Alec Reid to observe the disarmament process, due to the respect both men were held within their respective communities.

It involved the churchmen travelling around Ireland, staying at remote locations where they observed the gathering and later decommissioning of the IRA's arsenal in 2005.

This was followed by a high-level meeting to convince senior DUP members that decommissioning had truly taken place.

The move paved the way for Ian Paisley to enter into government with Sinn Féin and resulted in 10 years of devolution before the collapse of power sharing in January last year.

Fr Reid, who had been based at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast, died in 2013.

Rev Good said their involvement in the process was a "huge event, it changed the scenery, and it's been a very considerable part of my life."

 

The collapse of political talks this month has resulted in some politicians, including MPs Owen Paterson and Kate Hoey, questioning the future of the power-sharing institutions and the Good Friday Agreement.

Ms Hoey said yesterday that to hide heads in sand over the "viability or sustainability of mandatory coalition is reckless and wrong".

Rev Good said he is disappointed at the current political impasse, as Northern Ireland approaches the 20th anniversary of the historic peace accord.

"It reminds me of the Hebrew word Shalom, which reminds us peace is more than just the absence of weapons, it can create a climate in which peace can be nurtured but it takes more," he said.

"It (decommissioning) created new opportunity but that hasn't been nurtured. I'm not going to point fingers in one direction more than the other but everyone still needs to grasp the opportunity.

"It's time that the total community comes together and says to our politicians that we're not prepared to put up with this, but I fear the community is not at that place yet."

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