Letter: Hardly a colony

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MAY I remind Beatrix Campbell that Ireland became part of the United Kingdom under the terms of the Act of Union of 1801; Northern Ireland is thus not a colony ("The lady's not for shuffling", 1 August). The office of Secretary of State was created when the Northern Ireland Parliament was suspended, to head the local government in the Province - not to end the rule of a corrupt planter oligarchy and return the government of the country to the natives.

Finally, Ms Campbell makes a direct comparison between the Ulster Unionists and the Boers: this is unfair. The white South Africans are a tiny minority in an overwhelmingly black population, who imposed by force a brutal regime based on racial discrimination; the Northern Ireland unionists have been the largest political grouping in the Province in democratic election after election in which nationalists have been free to stand and free to vote.

MICHAEL WATTS

Newtownards, Co Down

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