Letter: A reasonable demand

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a former BBC writer on Northern Ireland affairs may I applaud Andrew Marr (15 March) in his support for John Major's refusal to betray the democratic system in order to persuade the IRA to give up its murders and bombings? But he seems to me to be on weak ground in praising the Downing Street declaration for holding fast to 'the right of the Northern Ireland majority to decide their own constitutional future' and adding: 'Any government which withdrew that right after assessing its costs and because of the actions of a minority would be despicable.'

If that is so, was not the British government in 1920 despicable in withdrawing the right of the majority of the Irish people to decide their own constitutional future because of the actions of a minority of armed Unionists who were threatening civil war? Against that background does not the demand of the IRA that the British government try to persuade the Unionists to accept a future in a united Ireland seem reasonable, even when put forward by murderers?

Sincerely,

PETER B. JOHNSON

Beckenham,

Kent

15 March

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