Letter: Overcoming 'obstacles' to Anglo-Irish negotiations

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The Independent Online
Sir: From the public's perspective, the Government's Northern Ireland initiative has come to a halt. What was always missing was a specific proposal, or set of proposals, around which negotiations could take place.

Did the Government ever look abroad for possible models of constitutional arrangement? Andorra may be worth scrutinising. Situated between France and Spain, its March 1993 constitution declares it to be a:

democratic and social independent state . . . a parliamentary co-principality . . . (in which the) Co-Princes are jointly and indivisibly Head of State . . . and they assume its highest representation.

They are the President of the French Republic and the Spanish Bishop of Urgell.

Following this precedent, Northern Ireland could have both the Queen and the President of the Republic of Ireland as 'jointly and indivisibly Head of State'. Those whose main allegiance was to the Crown would turn one way, and those who preferred the President would turn the other. Neither group need feel cut off. There would also have to be a written constitution, which would require and guarantee non- discrimination between all people in the province and would also guarantee human rights.

In drawing up this constitution, there could be a separate constitutional assembly, elected by the people of Northern Ireland specifically for the purpose. Its proposals would then be put to the people of Northern Ireland in a referendum.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN HEATH

London, NW1

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