The brutal murders of two men in Belfast and Derry are a dark reminder of the grave threats that still hang over Northern Ireland, according to Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Border Region Development Brendan Smith.
Deputy Smith called a special debate in Dáil Éireann this afternoon to highlight the simmering threat by violent groups calling themselves ‘dissidents’.
Questioning the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Éamon Gilmore, Deputy Smith said the murders come at a critical juncture in the peace process.
“The politics of division which have come to dominate the political atmosphere in the north over the last two years have had a very negative effect on the spirit of the peace process. The two key players in the Northern Ireland political establishment both appear to be content with playing to their respective galleries for partisan gain. This atmosphere of mutual distrust and recrimination is a fertile breeding ground for so-called ‘dissident’ activity and the kind of thuggery we saw in the flag protests,” said Deputy Smith.
“In a fragile society like Northern Ireland, failure by the institutions to demonstrate real progress for regular society inevitably contributes to a climate where violence by small numbers in both sections of the community comes to the fore. The simmering threat by violent groups that occasionally and tragically flares up, as we saw this week, is a major concern and has to be addressed by the Northern Ireland Executive.”
Deputy Smith called on the Tánaiste to demonstrate leadership in resolving the stale-mate and showmanship at Stormont.
“The Republic of Ireland is a key stakeholder in the peace process. In our submission to the Haas Panel, Fianna Fáil affirmed the need to ensure that the Republic, in co-operation with Britain continues to act as guarantors for the process and drive it on. The brutal murders this week are a horrific reminder of the importance of this work. The government simply cannot afford to neglect Northern Ireland. As we have said many times over the last two years, there is nothing inevitable about progress in the north.
“The Irish government has to step up its level of engagement. This week’s violence should act as a further motivation to rise to the many challenges that remain.”