Thursday, 12 June 2008

What price has Gordon Brown paid?

Yesterday I met one of my heroes. Michael Gallagher was one of the founders of the Omagh victim support group. 10 years ago the Omagh bomb killed 29 people. It remains the largest single act of terror in the UK. Michael and others have made sure that this incident is not forgotten. He has travelled the world raising awareness and making contact with other similar groups. Yesterday Michael was one of a number of international speakers at conference arranged by Geoffrey Van Orden MEP to highlight the issues faced by victims of terrorism. We had lunch.

Whilst I was talking to Michael, Gordon Brown was back in Westminster (reportedly) cutting a deal with the DUP to save his back on the 42 day detention bill. Even though I was born and spent my childhood in Omagh I still find the nuances of Northern Irish politics difficult to gague from "across the water". However, this "deal" worries me. Since the 2005 election Northern Irish politics has been dominated by the parties on the more extreme ends of the Protestant/ Catholic divide. The tensions are still very high. I, along with many others, had hoped that the next election might bring the return of more moderate views. I suspect that any deal Gordon may have made yesterday this will be much more difficult.


Jonathan M. Scott said...

The UUP made a pig's ear of the peace process, hence the welcome ejection of Trimble et al from their Westminster seats.

It was the DUP that finally forced Sinn Fein into accepting the police and courts, and managed to re-start the Assembly - it is now the most stable it has ever been.

The problem with the so-called 'moderate' voices of the UUP is that they are also incompetent.

Vicky Ford said...

Thanks Jonathan - good comments but I was not necessarily suggesting a return to the parties or people of the past either. Clearly detention without charge is a hugely sensitive issue in Northern Ireland and my concern is that back hand deals with either side on this issue risk re-opening painful old wounds. It is incredibly important that we in England remember how painful those wounds are and my meeting yesterday was, personally, a timely reminder.