Letter: 'Peace' in Ireland

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FOR understandable reasons the historic agreement approved, subject to referendums, in Belfast on 10 April is being referred to in media reports as a "peace deal", and of course it is devoutly to be hoped that over time it will indeed lead to the abandonment of violence as a means of achieving political aims in Northern Ireland. But we should be clear that in the short term it will, alas, not produce peace: we may be sure that for the near future one or more nasty sets of initials will continue to use bomb and bullet.

When terrorist incidents take place it is extremely difficult for democratically elected politicians to resist the pressures they then come under to react in such a way as to nullify commitments made to pursue a particular political course (cf earlier episodes in Northern Irish history and Israeli backsliding on the Oslo accords). So, to strengthen their own hand against the inevitable pressures they are going to come under, let the politicians who approved the agreement of 10 April now show further courage by making statements, in unequivocal words that could be quoted against them, showing recognition that terrorist acts are going to take place and affirming that nevertheless nothing will deflect them from adhering to the Belfast agreement.