Letter: How Dublin can 'get real' about Northern Ireland

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Sir: Bryan Appleyard's article ('Mad Ireland should get real', 10 August) was really an examination of the policy of the republic towards Northern Ireland. Despite its rhetorical flourishes, which were bound to offend oversensitive Irish readers as colonial stereotypes (letter, 12 August), Mr Appleyard's article poses a question that deserves serious consideration: where does the self-interest of the republic lie as regards Northern Ireland?

I agree with Mr Appleyard that the Irish government has been pursuing a misguided policy since its took on board the Hume- Adams approach of trying to entice Sinn Fein/IRA into the democratic parlour. This policy has given a legitimacy to Sinn Fein/IRA that most previous Irish governments did their best to deny them. It risks destabilising all of Ireland and, in short, constitutional politics risks being infected by physical-force politics with potentially disastrous consequences.

We Irish from the South have a problem with the IRA that we have not yet fully coped with. This is witnessed in the hushed tones in which Provisionals are condemned in social conversation or the way the topic is studiously avoided at all costs.

However, there are forces and personalities in the South who are trying to grapple with these issues: Conor Cruise O'Brien, Michael McDowell of the Progressive Democrats, Proinsias de Rossa of the Democratic Left, Ruth Dudley Edwards, the Independent group of newspapers, New Consensus and the Peace Train among others.

Perhaps in a future article Mr Appleyard could pay some attention to these forces. It would prevent his views being dismissed as an imperialist thesis by the soi- disant friends of 'the Irish people' or treated with lofty disdain by the Professor of Modern Irish History at the University of Dublin (letter, 12 August).

Yours faithfully,


London, W12