Sir: Your leader today ("Adams may be our last hope", 12 February) is basically correct in its analysis of the options open to Gerry Adams. Mr Adams, and the party he heads, are the only avenue of contact that we have with the Provisional IRA and their thinking. Force him to distance himself too far, and he loses whatever leverage he has with them - and we return to abysmal square one. Like him or loathe him, we need him.
On the other hand, governments and constitutional politicians are quite right to distance themselves from him at this time. They cannot be seen, on an official level, to ignore the Canary Wharf bomb. However, that does leave the door open for unofficial contact. An alienated Sinn Fein is a dangerous Sinn Fein. They must be penalised, but they should not be excluded.
This is where Mitchell principles could come in very useful. They would be hard for Sinn Fein to swallow, but they contain enough that is imprecise for them to do so - with difficulty. The IRA army council, and everybody else, would recognise that there would be an element of expediency in this - but some creative fudge is vital if we are to salvage anything from the current impasse.
Then, perhaps, we might be able to move forward into some form in inclusive talks.
St Dorothea's Rectory
The write is author of 'Where do we go from here?: Protestants and the Future of Northern Ireland' (Columba Press).Reuse content