Letter: IRA's good faith

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IRA's good faith

Sir: David Trimble is right in his demand that the IRA must deliver some significant decommissioning of weapons (not "substantial" but "significant") before its political wing, Sinn Fein, can be accepted into the ministerial executive of Northern Ireland ("Ulster arms talks stall", 2 October).

All the elements of the Belfast agreement are interdependent. That is why terrorist prisoners are being released, despite this being intolerable to many. The agreement is explicit on decommissioning: "All participants ... confirm their intention to work constructively and in good faith with the Independent Commission and to use any influence they may have to achieve the decommissioning of all paramilitary arms..." It is impossible for IRA/Sinn Fein to claim that it is working "in good faith" if nothing is achieved. One may argue about how much is required: but nothing cannot be an expression of good faith.

Gerry Adams' observation "don't kick a dog to see if it is asleep" (report, 1 October) amounts to a warning that the IRA may return to violence if it does not get its way. If so, this proclaims that his wing of nationalism has not accepted the agreement, and he is disqualified from all participation in it.

The agreement will not survive unless both prime ministers give explicit and firm support to Trimble.

HARRY STOPES-ROE

Birmingham

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