Talks 'excluded' Irish communities

October 24, 1997

THE HISTORIC handshake between prime minister Tony Blair and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has been followed by the launch of an academic book on the peace process.

The book is edited by Chris Gilligan and Jon Tonge of the Irish studies division of Salford University European studies research institute.

Dr Tonge said: "A recurring theme in the book and in the peace process has been the marginalisation of both the unionist and nationalist communities.

"Both communities have been promised an ultimate say in the formal outcome of the talks. But they have been largely excluded from any say within the peace process itself."

Mr Gilligan said this had been both a strength and a weakness.

"It has made the renegotiation of long cherished principles easier for political leaders. But the exclusion of ordinary people has meant that the peace process has not established any roots in Northern Irish society," Mr Gilligan said.

Peace or War? Understanding the Peace Process in Northern Ireland is published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd. Price Pounds 35

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