Multimedia Document Retrieval

NPR's Weekend All Things Considered
Broadcast 27/11/1999, Story 1

P. c. on the block in northern ireland it's n. p. r.'s weekend all things considered i'm jacki lyden the irish peace process held up for over a year is on its way to gain the ulster unionist party affirmed its desire for peace allowing the formation of a governing cabinet for northern ireland even before the i. r. a. begin disarming unionist party leader david trimble there have been clearer

Sources close to finding the console of the ulster unionist party called the proposal likely to commit a double a. b. c. news port city of all of this is the decommissioning quote

We're going to mean for hong kong if all goes according to plan the british government will start heating powers to the new cabinet after its elected next week a vote expected to be tough because it must include at least two members from nations same party had to say

I. r. a. officials will meet with the special commission's monitoring the disarmament process the i. r. a. has not agreed to disarm only to meet with the commission this compromise deal was brokered by former u. s. senator george mitchell who helped negotiate the original plan friday peace plan in nineteen ninety eight it just says the time is ripe for a breakthrough

I think the political leaders of parties and the public recognize that uh the risks of going forward though were less than the risks of inaction that is there was always a danger of slipping back into the conflict of the past and i think they decided they wanted to move forward and to try to really go through the political leaders who had the courage to take the steps and a very difficult circumstance

Now at what point did you not david trimble the leader of the ulster unionist party in the raids or did she was there some decisive moment that you can tell us

When we saw that this thing was going to clear the hurdle

I didn't really touch anybody on a ah created a circumstance in which the party leaders to talk directly after listening to them through hundreds and hundreds of hours of discussion i felt that i had identified the possibility of some common ground and i made some suggestions to them but really the decision that they resent of the credit should be theirs

I did meet a k. n. x. had a way that you have been at this for some years now and you created a scenario who all these different political factions could talk that reads like a slim the valid they were at different sites they were in london and ambassador's residence the american ambassador's residence different sites in northern ireland and i guess it was when you discussed opera

I've listened to la boheme and uh and in the knowledge that rodolfo the lead in the opera will always saying the same lines that but to limit it gets be ready to come back and talk to you guys because when i come here i know you gonna say the same things over and over and over again that you have the years i've now been involved with the skies for nearly five years and i don't know the alliance by heart

And so did get a good laugh and uh we had several of the humorous roles but for the most part it was a difficult serious and tough negotiations

I don't even on monday the cabinet is supposed to be selected under this agreement will include two members of sinn fein the party associated with the i. r. a. as well as a representative to the other parties in northern ireland how tough is that both going to be and what happens if the cabinet is not allow that

But this requires a majority you know i just hope all of the assembly members but within each community in december so you have to have a majority overall the majority of the nationalist members of the majority unionist members and it'll be tough to get so the data were gathered over the weekend and the beginning in the next week i think they'll come up to the fold so

For all the news made a concession today to go ahead without the i. r. a. is demonstrating what evidence that it will go forward with disarmament and yet the i. r. a.'s supposed to agree to more disarmament measures next week what is the pressure on them

Well what they've agreed to to uh is to name a representative of the uh i will speak in their behalf with the international commission has been created to monitor and verify disarmament uh and that's that's a very significant step that was previously last week a statement from the i. r. a.

And statements from contained in the ulster unionist party basically it's a step by step process of trying to build a political confidence necessary to enable them to go forward and that's really what this whole plan or scenario uh that were done has been about

And let's talk from the fall of the mention of your scenario if everything does go forward and do you have for five years to work to have that it does will this new cabinet have power

Oh yes you have self government for northern ireland for the first time in more than a quarter century that it's not gonna be easy targets are going to be disagreements the real issue is will those disagreements were in a climate of democratic style waldholtz will there be continuing political violence uh that that makes it impossible to function in a democratic way and and i think that will happen and the other real issue is whether there will be change when i was sharing weather

People in both communities will have some say in their future and i think that what they're also going to tell you

I've been able to achieve something here which other negotiators had failed to do indeed have a long time where these groups i would like to ask how could this affect the year ending it's an extraordinary as a witness to history position to the end

But said several affects one of course it's been very difficult personally have gotten away from home a lot of the last several years but i also feel privileged to have played a part in what i hope will be a a an historic peace process and a turning point uh in that society

My father taught me that the human being is our obligation to help others in need and the more fortunate to what degree the obligation i've been very lucky in my own life and so i felt this obligation to what i could to be helpful

Senator george mitchell speaking with us from new york

Interface designed by Ben Timms and Rich Wareham 1999