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Envoy's nauseating view of the north

(Brian Feeney, Irish News)

The US special envoy has popped his head up again after a period of welcome silence. The Irish Times asked him if the US still has a meaningful role in the peace process. Of course, he said yes. What else would he say?

After all, it is his role at issue.

What is his role? To provide "good offices", act as a cheerleader and a source of ideas, he said.

Yes, well, except that the only sound coming from the special envoy is the noise of him telling Sinn Féin to support the PSNI and join the Policing Board.

Some months ago Gerry Adams told The Irish Times about the envoy, "Do not heed what he says. He will not be sorting out these matters."

And the envoy agrees with Adams that he has no authority here.

What he does not see is that, like his government, he no longer has any moral authority here either. People are pleasant and civil and agree to meet him but his standing has sunk alongside that of his government's authority in the world. The special envoy fails to appreciate the irony of him urging Sinn Féin to support the police and give "law-abiding people" in their community the type of society they deserve.

This coming from the envoy of a state which flouts any international law it doesn't like and refuses to sign up to any international convention which might treat US citizens the same as people from anywhere else in the world.

This coming from the representative of perhaps the most disgusting government ever to stain America's reputation, a government whose president also ignores domestic United States laws he doesn't like.

Even in his first five years, Bush had signed statements on more than 750 occasions 'voiding' legislative provisions he did not like.

So it continues. In 2005 when Congress finally got around to banning torture as an instrument of US policy, Bush's response was that he would obey Congress's injunction when it suited him.

As a representative of the US government, the special envoy no doubt also supports the evil of Guantanamo, a standing affront to human rights, a place where men never tried, never convicted, kill themselves as they enter the slough of despond.

The US response? An "act of asymmetrical war", a "good PR stunt".

Does he also support the kidnapping of individuals from the streets of European cities so that they can be flown to countries that will torture them to America's specifications?

When you hear the envoy of such a government talking about "law-abiding people" you need to keep a suitable receptacle close beside you.

Not having any authority here, let alone any moral authority, the envoy still has the temerity to exert pressure, having failed to win the argument by persuasion. It is the American way it seems, or at least the way of his rotten government.

Despite talking about "good offices" and a source of ideas, the special envoy has used his influence to prevent Sinn Féin from raising funds in the US.

Not because they have done anything wrong but because they won't do what he tells them when he tells them.

Now there are many reasons people could argue to prevent SF raising funds in the US but refusing to toe the line drawn by the special envoy is not one. That is particularly true when SF has clearly made a deal with the British government about what reforms are needed to policing arrangements here before they will join and the timing of those reforms is tied up with the restoration of a Stormont executive.

Regardless of this deal, the special envoy told The Irish Times, in an ugly phrase, "how we decide to use and leverage our influence, that defines the role we play in the peace process". So much for good offices and ideas. It never seems to occur to the special envoy that Sinn Féin have stood for election in 2001, 2003 and 2005 with their position on policing in their manifesto. On each occasion their vote rose. He may disagree with their position but their voters voted for it.

Now would it be too much to ask what penalty he has in mind for the DUP who haven't moved on anything?

June 15, 2006

This article appeared first in the June 14, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News