21 November 2006
Peace talks can succeed only if “everything is on the table and there is respect for all points of view,” Britain’s former Northern Ireland Minister said after meeting Tamil Tiger officials.
Saying there is a “huge comparison” between the conflicts in Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka, Mr. Paul Murphy said “no one can win this kind of war.”
“We have the same message for the Sri Lankan government as the LTTE: keep searching for a solution, ensure the ceasefire agreement is one of integrity, renounce violence and ensure there is a proper look at everything that can bring peace.”
Mr. Murphy the former Northern Ireland Minister, is presently Chairman of the British Intelligence and Security Committee.
He spoke to reporters on Nov. 16 after meeting with the head of the LTTE’s Political Wing, Mr. S. P. Tamilselvan at the LTTE’s Political Headquarters in Kilinochchi.
“I was asked to come by the Prime Minister of Britain to give our experiences in Northern Ireland where I was Secretary of State for many years to see if people in Sri Lanka can learn from our experiences,” Mr. Murphy said.
“I will be reporting back to Tony Blair on the points that have been made here [in Kilinochchi] – and the points that have been made in Colombo as well.”
Sri Lanka’s conflict can be solved if there is genuine will on both sides, he said.
“There is a huge comparison between Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka,” he reiterated.
The numbers of people killed in the two conflicts are proportionately the same – out of a million and a half people in, 3,000 died and sixty thousand have died in Sri Lanka, he said.
“There were cases of discrimination and real conflict in Northern Ireland [also],” Mr. Murphy, who co-chaired the peace talks there for two years, said.
“No one can win this type of war. Everybody understands that and if there is a will for peace then there are all sorts of ways in which our experiences in Northern Ireland can help,” he said.
“Everything has to be on the table, it has to be an inclusive process, everybody has to be involved and there has to be equal respect for everybody,” he said.
“[In Northern Ireland] we looked at everything - constitutional arrangements, language, human rights, humanitarian issues, equality, police, criminal justice; all those issues were on the table,” he said.
“Above all, equal respect for everybody’s point of view.”
Speaking to reporters, the LTTE Political Chief, Mr. Tamilselvan said the meeting with Mr. Murphy had been interesting.
“The Northern Ireland peace process succeeded because there was patience and commitment by the conflict parties,” he said.
“[But] the Sri Lankan government doesn’t even want to acknowledge and respecting the Ceasefire Agreement we signed in 2002,” he said.
“In the [new] budget, the government has massively increased military expenditure. What does that indicate?”