The peace process in Northern Ireland can only survive if militant groups commit themselves to ending violence, Nobel Peace Laureate David Trimble told a packed ARCO forum last night.
"The paramilitary people have an opportunity to come into the democratic process, but only if they leave terrorism behind," Trimble said.
The head of the Ulster Unionist Party and leader of the Northern Irish government, Trimble received the 1998 Nobel Peace prize for his efforts in organizing the Good Friday Agreement, a peace treaty between Irish nationalist and Unionist forces.
"He's reached across the chasm of Protestants and Catholics to seek peace," Dean of the Kennedy School of Government Joseph S. Nye said while introducing Trimble.
Trimble denied that tensions in Northern Ireland were religiously motivated, saying instead that nationalism was at the root of the conflict.
"The essence of the issue is a clash between people with different identities and different allegiances," he said.
Trimble began his address by tracing the history of the Northern Irish struggle, before outlining the reasons he believes Irish militants accepted peace rather than continue with violence.
Trimble blamed the onset of violence in Northern Ireland on the failure of Ulster Unionist leadership to unify the country in the 1960s.
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