Conservatives have apparently abandoned the cross-party approach to the Northern Ireland peace process after the party refused to back the government’s plan to allow terrorist fugitives fled abroad to return home without having to answer for their crimes. This is a wildly exaggerated accusation from the Labour government and also quite puzzling. It was the Conservatives who began the peace process in the first place and who supported it through its most difficult days. To suggest that they are reneging at this late stage so ridiculous that it borders on the bizarre. The puzzling bit is why the proposal about sought suspects is even being put forward at all as it has never figured hitherto.
Now, in many ways the Northern Ireland process has been an object lesson in how to bring a protracted and bitter struggle to an end. Both sides have ended up with less then they think that they deserve and it has been painful for almost all concerned. There have been unpalatable concessions that have seen murderers, Republican and Loyalist, walking the streets again long before they should have been let out to see the light of day. But in the end there is peace, and the absence of war is worth a great deal. As many have said you make peace with your enemies, not your friends, and no-one is likely to be entirely satisfied with the outcome in such circumstances. The government’s latest move is causing even less satisfaction than usual though. It’s not just the Conservatives this time. The Liberal Democrats, the Unionists and even the moderate Nationalists think this is a step too far. Labour’s approach is less cross-party than one-party.
Hain attacks Tories on N Ireland