Letter: Play fair in Ulster

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Sir: You report a senior government source as saying that "At the end of the day, it will be up to the Ulster Unionists to decide whether they want peace" ("Blair offers failsafe deal to Trimble", 5 July). The tone of this remark is unwarranted and unhelpful.

Unionists had every right to expect that decommissioning would have started by now. In March 1995, Gerry Adams said that decommissioning would take place at the end of inter-party negotiations.

In January 1996, Senator Mitchell proposed the compromise of talks and some decommissioning taking place simultaneously. In the early morning of Good Friday 1998, Tony Blair wrote to David Trimble that his interpretation of the agreement was that decommissioning should start straight away.

In the event, despite strenuous efforts, the Prime Minister has not been able to bring about a start to decommissioning. He should not be blamed for this failure, but his approach to Unionists should acknowledge it.

The deal that he is now asking them to accept is less than satisfactory but is the best he has been able to put together. If only he were to say that, he might improve the chances of a favourable response.

STEPHEN PLOWDEN

London NW1

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