LETTER : Definitions of democracy in Northern Ireland

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From Mr Paul Harrison

Sir: I strongly disagree with Jonathan Holbrook (letter, 13 February) that the British government bears any responsibility for the Docklands bomb. While I was saddened by the end of the ceasefire, I was not surprised. It is enshrined in the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, reiterated in the Downing Street Declaration of 1993 and confirmed in the Mitchell report that there can be no change in the constitution of Northern Ireland without the consent of its people.

This point is accepted by all democratic parties in the UK, the Irish Republic and the US. It is, however, anathema to Sinn Fein and the IRA, who fear democracy because they know they will not get their way. There are probably few people in Britain today who have any wish to stand in the way of a united Ireland, but it can only be achieved by persuading the Ulster people that their future lies in an all-Ireland state. We must, however, preserve their right to remain part of the UK if that is their democratic wish.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Harrison

Welling, Kent

13 February