|Paul Bew, Fergus Finlay, Paddy Gillan
|Comments on this document
|Good Friday Agreement Referendum, 1998
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Many thanks to Catherine Murphy TD for donating this document to the Left Archive. Due to its length it will be posted up in individual sections over the next twelve months.
This document [published on foot of a series of meetings] is unusual in respect of the Irish left in that it sought to challenge fairly directly the assumptions held by a political formation. That formation, Democratic Left, less than a decade old had recently left government after Fianna Fáil had won the 1997 General Election. It had also shed two seats from its complement of six Tds.
Due to the length of this document it has been broken up into sections, and will be posted non-sequentially over the next year or so. This chapter engages with the issue of Irish politics in the aftermath of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and the referendum on foot of that. There are two contributors, Dr. Paul Bew of Queens University, Belfast and a response by Fergus Finally, formerly Special Advisor to Dick Spring, leader of the Labour Party. Thatt both were advisors to different parties at various stages during the peace process their contributions are of some interest.
The summation is made by Paddy Gillan, then editor of Times Change.
All are short and remarkably undetailed, one might even say they were vague. The focus is on unionism, to an almost remarkable degree. And largely the theme of the papers is not addressed. Nor is it clear what the implications, as then perceived, for the left are.
The summation is arguably more interesting, with Dr. John McManus of DL arguing that the agreement ‘marked a ‘full stop’ to nationalism. Proinsias De Rossa argued that ‘Sinn Féin had a long road to travel. There was not just a time difference but a very large ideological gap. He felt that we must challenge the idea of SF being the guardians of equality agenda; there is a need to recover the equality project for the left - we can’t let them demean equality the way they demeaned republicanism.’
Perhaps tellingly there is no mention that Democratic Left organised and had elected representatives in the Northern Ireland.