Letter: Hopes for Ulster

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Sir: The recent increase in tension in Northern Ireland has provoked a lot of gloom but perhaps this is misplaced. The loyalist paramilitaries are most exercised by the lack of movement on the prisoners issue. That issue is emotive but politically it is among the easiest of those facing the British government in Northern Ireland.

A great deal of confidence can be built relatively straightforwardly. Why doesn't the Secretary of State declare her intention to allow a limited amnesty for all paramilitary organisations that stick to their current ceasefire, effective from, say, three months after the conclusion of the talks in May?

It is time for a bold gesture to clear the air and restore momentum to the peace process. But an impromptu visit to the Maze is probably not the answer.


London N8