EDINBURGH (ENI) — The leader of the biggest Protestant church in Scotland has paid tribute to British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process but criticized him for supporting United States foreign policy.
“Tony Blair’s achievement in leading the United Kingdom for ten years is remarkable,” said the moderator of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, the Rev. Alan McDonald, after Blair’s May 10 announcement that he would step down as prime minister in June.
However, McDonald added, “The ever-widening gap between rich and poor, the attachment to American foreign policy, and the decision in favor of a new generation of nuclear weapons are all matters of great regret.”
Still, “The provision of undreamed of resources for education and the health service, and the speed with which the promise of devolved government was delivered in Scotland and Wales, should be a source of pride for him,” said McDonald. “Above all, history should remember him for the peace process in Northern Ireland.”
Blair helped forge the 1988 peace accords that ended three decades of armed conflict in Northern Ireland and led to a power-sharing administration between Protestants and Roman Catholics inaugurated on May 8.
In his speech announcing his intention to resign as prime minister, Blair noted that removing Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein from power had been possible with “relative ease.” “But the blowback since from global terrorism … has been fierce and unrelenting and costly. And for many it simply isn’t and can’t be worth it.”