Letter: Northern Ireland: a time for new concepts; Unionist fears; violence that can return

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The Independent Online
Sir: What next? First the IRA takes what would have been an unthinkable step even six months ago and declares a ceasefire. Then, even more unbelievably, Conor Cruise O'Brien echoes (1 September) a long-held argument of Sinn Fein - that British security forces in Northern Ireland turn a blind eye to the activities of loyalist paramilitaries.

At least that's what I understand from his statement that the new IRA strategy is designed to provoke a situation where 'Britain will be fighting a war on two fronts: against the IRA, securely based in the Catholic community, and against the loyalist paramilitaries equally securely based in the Protestant community.'

Is it naive to have imagined that this was already the case?

Yours faithfully,

DESMOND COLUMB

London, N8

1 September

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