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IRISH PEACE EFFORT FALTERS



Published: Wed, August 1, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Miami Herald: Once again the clock is ticking toward a deadline, and once again government leaders are gathering around tables in hope of stopping violence in Northern Ireland. The alternative is unthinkable; how could these proud people step back in to the turmoil of the period before the fragile peace began on Good Friday 1998?

Whatever good offices the United States can lend, it should offer, as it has done in the past. Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell was the neutral broker of that Good Friday settlement. Civil disruption in Northern Ireland has little direct impact on Americans, but the links of kinship and business give us a stake in peace, one that we shouldn't fritter away by favoring either side.

The deadline is Aug. 11. The Protestant Unionists say that their patience with the failure of the Catholic Irish Republican Army to disarm itself on schedule will expire. The Unionists will stop sharing power with the IRA-linked Sinn Fein, effectively dissolving the government and the framework for unity.

Radical elements: The IRA isn't a picture of unity itself, there being radical elements that seemingly are invested in war, not peace. Even so, the IRA reluctance is understandable when viewed against the history of the police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, a mostly Protestant force. It -- of course -- served the government in power, which has left abiding mistrust among Catholics over tactics of its anti-terrorist enforcement arm and over unresolved assassinations of Catholic leaders and lawyers.

More recently, Catholics complained that the police would not protect Catholic children trying to attend school while officers protected the marches of the Orange Order. Those July marches go through many villages and towns, celebrating the 1690 -- yes, 1690 -- victory of Protestants over Catholics. Unionist leader David Trimble, who shared the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with his Catholic counterpart, calls the marching season a "folk festival."

Annually, the marches breed sectarian harassment and retaliation. Such celebrations are like the gatherings of those Americans who cling to notions of the Confederacy and white supremacy.

Now, just two weeks after the last march, the governments of Britain and Ireland and the parties to the shared Northern Ireland government tentatively have agreed to addressing some of the Catholics' -- and Protestants' -- concerns. They are proposing to appoint an independent, foreign judge to inquire into unresolved killings by both sides, to reduce the presence of 13,000 British troops and, most controversially, to reform the police. Without a police presence respected as fair and impartial by all, there truly cannot be a society based on law and order.

Peace for Northern Ireland has come with many last chances. This last chance offers a civil solution that has been nurtured for more than three hopeful, bumpy years. Those with eyes toward the future of their children and not toward bitternesses centuries old will turn this chance into reality.

AN OUTSIDER FOR THE INS

Los Angeles Times: Among immigration specialists, the initial reaction to President Bush's nomination of James W. Ziglar, the Senate's sergeant-at-arms, to head the Immigration and Naturalization Service was skepticism. How could someone who knew little about immigration head the troubled agency in charge of it?

Earlier this month at Ziglar's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the reaction was quite different. The nominee was praised by both the Democratic majority and Republican minority leaders. He is expected to win the endorsement of the committee and a floor vote on his confirmation before Congress recesses next month.

The INS, a part of the Department of Justice, has always been torn between its two duties -- closing the border to foreigners who would enter the country illegally and welcoming foreigners who qualify to enter legally. More often than not, the agency has leaned too far in favor of border enforcement; this has continued even as the backlog of citizenship applications has grown.

Bush is well aware of INS problems. As a candidate, he even proposed splitting the agency in two, with one wing devoted to processing legal immigrants while the other focused on border enforcement. One of Ziglar's jobs as INS commissioner could be to determine how viable Bush's proposal is.

Fair manager: Ziglar has a reputation as a tough but fair manager. In 1999, soon after he was sworn in as sergeant-at-arms, he was charged with helping organize and implement the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton. His challenge was to be evenhanded, and he seems to have succeeded. In April of this year, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democratic member on the Judiciary Committee, declared, "I don't think there is a member who would suggest that he was anything other than totally impartial."

The nominee's experience in the private sector includes work for two law firms and in the financial services industry. He did a brief stint at the Justice Department and was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. He was an assistant secretary at the Interior Department in 1987-88.

His knowledge of immigration issues is limited, but that's no fatal flaw. It has not been unusual for INS heads to start their job lacking expertise on immigration. It is a post that requires a strong understanding of management and politics, and Ziglar has demonstrated both.




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