Iraq learns lesson from NI peace process

Alliance Party General Secretary, Stephen Farry, has claimed that Iraqi representatives have learnt a very important lesson from the Northern Ireland process in their attempts to agree a form of government for their country — but one that was not anticipated by Bush and Blair.

At a US-brokered meeting in Nasiriya, they issued a joint statement of governing principles. The second point was: “The future government of Iraq should not be based on communal identity.”

Dr Farry, Alliance’s Global Affairs spokesman, stated: “George Bush and Tony Blair have held up the Good Friday Agreement as an inspiration to peace processes around the world.

“It appears the Iraqis have learnt one important lesson from the Northern Ireland peace process — what to avoid. One of the clear drawbacks in our own process is the cementing of communal divisions, most clearly expressed in the Assembly Designations and Voting System. This has contributed to the institutionalisation of sectarianism.

“Iraq is a more deeply divided society than Northern Ireland. Yet, in their efforts to move forward, the Iraqis know they have to get away from the entrenchment of communal differences. They know it is not conducive to building a united Iraq.

“By contrast, there has been an abject failure by the two governments and parties here to address the self-evident problems with our voting system. Perhaps, it is Northern Ireland that can learn from Iraq rather than the other way around.”

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