Letter: Lament for Ulster

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Once again we have the opportunity of reading David McKittrick's eloquent lament on the need for movement from both sides on the painful issue of decomissioning ("This row about guns will not unravel the peace process", 15 December). My worry, and I'm sure the dreadful fear of others, is that the unionist people are being led to believe that the key to the future peace of Northern Ireland is the surrender of arms by the terrorists.

Whilst the arguments for decomissioning and the extraction of the gun from Irish politics are wholly admirable, in themselves they do not bring us to any new place.

From a security point of view, the army and police would not behave as though the security risk had diminished just because a truckload of old guns turned up in South Armagh. The extension of this would possibly be a new round of backs-to-the-wall arguments by unionists of how they could be expected to go into government with republicans whom they could not trust, who might possibly have more guns under different tables.

Whilst the unionists, along with the nationalists, voted for the Good Friday agreement, we have not subsequently had any announcement from unionist politicians that the key to future long-term peace lies in the fact that unionists must for the first time make real efforts to make nationalists feel included in all aspects of Northern Irish society. Announcements and behaviour of this nature would secure the constitutional basis of Northern Ireland and kill off the utter rubbish talked about this being the first step toward a united Ireland.

If only the irresistible force of Mr Trimble could bring the unionist people to this recognition, then they would realise how strong a position we all are in.

JOHN COOK

Belfast

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