Letter: Seize chance for peace in Ireland

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Sir: Your powerful appeal to John Hume (leading article, 14 August) coincided with a fear which has chilled my spine since I heard that he was contemplating standing for the Irish presidency. I know and respect John Hume as a figure of great integrity and huge importance. He has worked for 30 years for a solution to the Irish problem. Why would he even consider, let alone publicly agonise over, a decision so obvious to your newspaper and to the rest of us?

Try as I will, I cannot help returning to the only reason which stands up to scrutiny. It must be that this able, proud, accomplished, respected leader of Ulster's nationalists can see no positive outcome to the talks. Why, unless he sees defeat staring him in the face, and an inevitable return to the cycle of violence, would a man of this calibre walk away from the victory (a just settlement) he has so long desired?

I trust your leading article and the appeals of others will persuade John to carry on the struggle and, later, take on the presidency of a new Ireland when his election can be celebrated by all the people on the whole island. As a Protestant who knows him, but not well, I would add my voice to yours: "John, do not give up. Do not desert the storm-tossed ship of negotiation for a seat in a grand empty room in Dublin. Risk honourable defeat, for there will be no honour in watching from Phoenix Park a tragedy you might by your stature and skill have prevented. And forgive me if my analysis is wrong."

GIL WARNOCK

Ballymoney, Co Antrim

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