Letter: Politics of violence

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The Independent Online
Sir: The gentle, liberal assumption, implicit in David McKittrick's article on Northern Ireland ('Catholics sense the chance to win the peace', 13 August), that political activity and armed violence are distinct, and opposite, is not shared by Sinn Fein and its militia, the IRA.

Sinn Fein still holds to the doctrine, absorbed from the old Fenian movement, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, that violence must be used to complete its political programme.

Without violence, the republican movement would lose its reason for being; it would dissolve. 'People who have genuinely forsworn violence', as Professor Mary McAleese puts it, can join either the SDLP in the North, or Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, or the Labour Party in the South. Simply, they can leave Sinn Fein.

Why should the 'militant component' of the Catholic community in Northern Ireland - the republican movement - move away from IRA violence if it now can display 'a confidence unimaginable 25 years ago'?

When Gerry Adams says that 'the peace movement is very much alive', he means the armed struggle will continue.

Yours faithfully,