Letter: Irish armaments

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Sir: The decommissioning issue has now festered to the point at which it threatens the Northern Ireland peace process. Whatever the truth about the conflicting interpretations of the Good Friday Agreement, it is a political reality that David Trimble needs to have something to show for what is seen as the concession of installing Sinn Fein in the positions in the executive to which they are entitled.

Whilst there is no question of arms or explosives being handed over at this early stage in the resolution of the conflict, perhaps the IRA could undertake to look closely at the possibility of a move towards actual decommissioning once the executive and the north-south bodies have been duly set up at the end of October.

Only the good offices of a trusted American president stand a realistic chance of eliciting such a significant gesture from wary and undefeated military men. Perhaps he might prevail upon General de Chastelain to request of the British that any destruction of weaponry be carried out by American personnel in situ. An understanding to that effect would also, naturally, provide the President with another much-needed photo-opportunity on the White House lawn.


London N17