Letter: Let's not shake on it

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The Independent Online
Sir: Beatrix Campbell (Comment, 22 June) asks whether Westminster would have shown the same disrespect to any other head of state as, so she alleges, was shown to Mary Robinson in connection with her handshake with Gerry Adams. I would argue that disrespect is the wrong word, but it is obvious that the UK government would show the same attitude to any other head of state conducting himself in this way.

The other heads of state who would be prepared to put themselves in this position form a group in whose company Mrs Robinson would no doubt normally be reluctant to find herself. The fact that the handshake took place behind closed doors surely demonstrates that all concerned (except Sinn Fein, no doubt) felt uneasy about it.

Logically, the handshake was of no importance, but many of the people of this country believe that, at least by failing to act decisively against it, the Irish government tacitly supports the IRA. If it is ever going to persuade those people that they are wrong, such incidents as this cannot be repeated. I suspect this was the source of the unease to which I refer.

Yours faithfully,

R. L. BARLOW

Leeds

23 June

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