Letter: Ireland's tribal baggage

JAMES DINGLEY argues (letter, 4 April) that Robert Fisk's reference to the Titanic being having been built by Irishmen "stands as a symbol of the muddled thinking on Ulster and why the current talks may well fail". From where I sit, with 25 years experience in a business servicing the 26 counties, I wonder whether Mr Dingley's Titanic of academic conflict is heading for an iceberg called change.

The Republic of Ireland is a vibrant modern industrial economy, the envy of Ulster industrialists. Its financial and agri-sectors have in many respects outstripped ours in the dynamism and sophistication of their management. Many of my Protestant farmer neighbours are shipping their milk to southern co-operatives. David Ervine of the Progressive Unionist Party is leading the way in taking a broad-minded approach to the talks. These sons of the shipyard that built the Titanic are the leaven in the Unionist lump.

I doubt if anyone at Stormont this week is taking time out to parse the finer points of who built the Titanic. What they are doing is to practise the age old art of negotiation on a complex but vital agenda. When the long-awaited solution emerges we can hopefully start the laborious business of throwing overboard all the backward-looking tribal baggage that so excites Mr Dingley.


Ballymoney, Co Antrim