Letter: Sinn Fein's defeat

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The unwavering political goal of Sinn Fein and the IRA, these past 70 years, has been to hound Britain out of Northern Ireland and to have the disputed six counties absorbed into the Irish Republic. They have hitherto consistently refused to recognise Northern Ireland's status as a legitimate part of the United Kingdom.

Notwithstanding the creation of cross-border institutions, the Good Friday Agreement consolidates the position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom, whilst the Irish electorate has mandated the Dublin government to revoke its constitutional claim to the six counties. That Sinn Fein agreed, as part of the agreement, to participate in a devolved government for Northern Ireland demonstrates both a political surrender and a tacit acknowledgement that 30 years of armed struggle have been a miserable failure.

A side-effect of their grievous capitulation has been the splintering of opinion within the IRA and the republican movement in general, with the result that Sinn Fein cannot "deliver" weapon decommissioning.

It is sad to observe the absurd stupidity of the loyalist politicians. Unionists could embrace the Good Friday Agreement as magnanimous victors of the peace process whilst conceding that military conquest is impossible. Since military action will never be able to crush the IRA completely, it is fatuous to expect them to hand over their weapons as if they had been vanquished and humiliated on the battlefield.

Instead, the mainstream loyalist parties have now succeeded, where the republic movement has hitherto manifestly failed, in depriving their own electorate of devolved democratic power and peace for future generations.

Dr JOHN STEVENS

Department of Psychotherapy

Springfield Hospital

London SW17

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