Letter: Ireland in a United British Isles

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The Independent Online
Sir: Today's front-page article 'Paisley warns of civil war in Ulster' (31 August) quotes the Rev Ian Paisley as claiming: 'The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland . . . are being compelled into a civil war situation . . .'. This is a potent example of the paucity of constructive debate within Unionist circles.

While Mr Paisley certainly could not be described as the moderate face of Ulster unionism, even leaders such as James Molyneaux have reacted to today's historic events with pedantry rather than optimism. Sadly, the British government has followed by focusing disproportionately on the omission in the IRA's ceasefire statement of the word 'permanent'.

What Unionists and the British government must acknowledge is that a return to the bad old days of Stormont and the conditions that allowed the Provisional IRA to flourish - the UK government's acceptance of endemic poverty and social deprivation (from which both communities have suffered and still do), and wholesale repression and discrimination against Catholics - is totally unacceptable. A peace settlement that addresses these inequities should not, as many suggest, be seen as a victory for the IRA, but as a victory for common sense.

Yours faithfully,

ANDREW P. WHITE

Marshfield, Avon

31 August

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