LETTER : British disown loyalist revenge

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Bruton recently lambasted the IRA for acts of violence in the name of the Irish people. Yesterday (12 March) the Combined Loyalist Military Command issued a warning that further IRA attacks on their "innocent British fellow citizens" would be met with a violent reaction from them.

Since when did the loyalist paramilitaries receive a mandate from the British public to undertake shootings and bombings in their name? And just how would the assasination of Northern Irish Catholics (which is what is meant by "violent reaction") benefit the people of England, Scotland and Wales? A similar condemnation from John Major should have followed the loyalists' threats, or is loyalist violence seen merely as an "inevitable response" to republican violence?

Throughout the peace process, the British government's obstruction of progress on all-party talks and attempts to humiliate Sinn Fein/IRA (first the word "permanent", then decommissioning) has left it exposed to the accusation that it is following a Unionist agenda, and is itself a part of the conflict. Different attitudes towards loyalist and republican violence will reinforce this view.

Dick Baptiste

Mitcham, Surrey

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