Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 8 May 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security: Discussion
In addition to what I said earlier, it is good that we are having the opportunity to discuss security resolution in the context of the stated aims of the Good Friday Agreement. We are all prisoners of history and of the current political realities across the globe. Politics here and internationally is confrontational and adversarial in nature. Moderate voices, of both men and women, tend to get drowned out when political conflict arises. The current situation in Ukraine is a case in point. The moderate voices of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the North were drowned out as the conflict developed there. Many people often feel that political movements are not for them because they have their own personal safety and integrity to preserve while people of a more violent disposition tend to take front-line positions.
The Good Friday Agreement highlights the fact that we have to find a new way of doing politics. By bringing these issues to the fore in forums like this we remind everybody of where we need to go in terms of the political structures in Ireland and also internationally. I do not want to be negative here. While highlighting the positives of the UN resolution and the stated aims of the Good Friday Agreement, we must also be conscious of the fact that almost all of the political parties in this nation who have been in power - including Cumann na nGaedheal, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin - are based on violence. The leaders of those parties and the way they assumed power originally was through muscle. That sends out a very bad message to people who have moderate political views, who are pragmatic and who want to advance causes through rational thought and argument. Our own history suggests that if one wants to assume power and take control of this nation, one must do it through muscle and violence. That sends out a terribly bad signal to everybody in this country. All political parties must find a new way to develop politics and encourage moderate people with pragmatic views across society to become active in the political sphere and in their communities. That is the challenge for all of us. That is also why I welcome the discussion this morning, because this is what we need to do over the next ten to 30 years. We must show that there is a better way. Unfortunately, if one looks at conflicts in places such as Nigeria or Ukraine, the same sort of political realities always present themselves. If one has muscle and acts violently, one is listened to, but if one is moderate, one tends to be drowned out, unfortunately.