Sir: Thank you for your unequivocal leading article on the Northern Ireland peace process (22 June). It is well past time that someone drew attention to the seriously flawed nature of William Hague's stand on this vital issue.
The tearing up of the cross-party accord is the least of my worries, although it must be remembered that the Labour opposition adhered to bipartisanship for eighteen years, through the most severe of trials and in spite of damaging criticism from its own constituency. What concerns me is the damage which Mr Hague and his party are capable of doing to a fragile and delicately balanced peace process to which, unless I have missed something, he is offering no constructive alternative.
I was born in Northern Ireland and lived there from 1952 until 1995. For the last 21 years of that time, I served in the emergency services and have vivid memories of the pain and horror wrought by the "troubles". I have, as I suspect do most of the 71 per cent who supported the Good Friday agreement in the referendum, great reservations about the detail of it. I do not welcome the release of the people who committed the atrocities which I and my colleagues had the misfortune to be required to clean up.
Equally, however, I do not have an alternative to offer, and I am prepared to place my trust in Tony Blair, as I would have in John Major. Both are decent men who have given Northern Ireland a higher priority than did any of their predecessors.
The only real alternative is the Maudling strategy of maintaining "an acceptable level of violence". Mr Hague and his colleagues do not have the right to inflict this on the people of the United Kingdom again. If they have a reasoned alternative, they should let us hear it immediately. If they do not, they should maintain a dignified silence.