Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Article excerpt

Byline: By Dave Anderson

Across the world today millions of people with Irish connections, and many without, will be raising a glass and celebrating St Patrick's Day. And today could just be the best St Patrick's Day for many a year.

We stand tantalisingly close to seeing the re-instatement of democratic self-government in Northern Ireland, with the hope of continued peace and greater prosperity. Nothing is yet certain and even if this does become reality, it will still be a difficult place in which to develop real progress.

But the will of the people is clear. They have turned their backs on decades of bullets and bombs.

They want to see their leaders engaging in real dialogue, not diatribe. They want to build a better world for their bairns than that experienced by previous generations.

The story of Ireland is one of desperate struggle and hardship, no matter which community you come from. One in which everyone, but especially the poor, has suffered.

The emergence of the Republic of Ireland as a real European economic force has been remarkable.

They didn't let Europhobia prevent them making the most of the European Union. Their progress in economic and social terms is something which we can learn from, but perhaps nowhere more so than in Northern Ireland.

The establishment of the joint Irish bodies, the development of a cross-border tourist industry and the sharing of energy resources all bode well for the future of the whole island, regardless of the constitutional settlement.

Many people have played significant roles in getting us to where we are today. John Major took the brave decisions to meet republicans in secret when his party would have been appalled to know. Tony Blair seized the initiative.

Bill Clinton contributed to the process that culminated in the Good Friday Agreement. Bertie Ahern has played a positive role on behalf of the Republic, which included them changing their own constitution.

And we should not forget the contribution of Mo Mowlem, who despite serious ill health pushed people further than any of us dared hope.

But beneath all the headliners there have been thousands of ordinary folk standing up for peace. …

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