Sir: David McKittrick writes ("The nightmare slide to war", 20 February) that Northern Ireland is slipping back into war and that "there seems to be no way to stop the process".
Obviously, urgent action is required to prevent this calamity and to protect the lives of hundreds if not thousands. Surely, the British and Irish governments should immediately summon all parties to a meeting to discuss the way forward, without any preconditions other than that they undertake in writing to maintain/restore the ceasefire while the talks last. At the same time, they should hold a referendum to ascertain the views of the people in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Such action would not be surrendering to the threat of force, but it should be made clear that should any party decline or fail to attend the meeting, it must face the consequences that its views will not be properly represented.
Firm and immediate action is absolutely essential, and no party should be allowed to have a veto as to whether these talks should take place.