The Dublin media are calling it wrong again on Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness is welcomed worldwide as an inspiring ‘peacemaker’
Twenty-five years ago, leading commentators in the Dublin media argued that peace in Ireland could only be achieved by excluding all those on the political extremes.
Leave the ‘security situation’ to the ‘moderates,’ they advised, for they know best. Ireland’s national broadcasting service RTÉ was banned from featuring supporters of Sinn Féin, the IRA or other
Republican groups, even if the subject had nothing to do with the Troubles. Most media commentators endorsed that policy or acquiesced silently.
When those same commentators discovered a few years later that John Hume of the moderate SDLP party had been talking to Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams, they were horrified. Hume was lambasted, vilified and denounced from Dublin’s media pulpits. How could he even give the time of day to ‘terrorists’ who ‘caused all the problems’ in the first place?
That was 1990. In the two decades since, we have passed though one of the most revolutionary phases of our nation’s history:
• The early Hume-Adams talks in Belfast’s Clonard Monastery widen to include Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and the British government, leading to the 1991 Downing Street Declaration that Britain has no ‘strategic interest’ in holding on to Northern Ireland. Dublin commentators go gunning for Reynolds whose government soon folds;
• President Bill Clinton takes a courageous initiative in overruling the visa ban on Gerry Adams entering the United States. The historic visit opens a three-way process that brings America into the equation as honest broker. Clinton is denounced by horrified Dublin media commentators;
• The IRA declares a ceasefire, soon followed by the Loyalist paramilitary groups. The Dublin media decries any prospect of amnesty for political prisoners;
• Talks about talks, then proximity talks lead to active negotiations under US Senator George Mitchell involving all political interests. This brings about the Good Friday Agreement. That’s it, agree Dublin media gurus, a chance to wash our hands of that northern business and get rid of the extremists for good;
• The Agreement leads to power-sharing, growing mutual respect across community and political divides, and it draws the political extremes into democratic politics. The Dublin media take on the role of ‘doubting Thomas’ poking every wound they can find;
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