Letter: Sir Robin Day and peace in Ulster

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The Independent Online
Sir: Sir Robin Day asks (Letters, 8 January) whether Edward Heath's words in 1971 gave the same message as the recent Downing Street declaration. No they did not. Mr Heath stressed that the decision rested with the majority of the people in Northern Ireland and had been hostile to attempted involvement by those in the South.

The recent declaration has the present government agreeing that it is a matter for the people of the island of Ireland and, although preserving the right of a majority in Northern Ireland to veto unification, that represents an important distinction with a difference in approach.

In any event, in any democracy worthy of the name the cessation of violence is the sine qua non of progress in this matter. Sadly, when I suggested, from the audience, to Sir Robin chairing Question Time during Mrs Thatcher's premiership, that he should chair a joint convention including government and church ministers, otherwise in disagreement, proclaiming unity on that prerequisite, he diverted the suggestion by indicating that his modesty knew no bounds.

Yours faithfully,


Head of Political Studies

St John's College

Southsea, Hampshire

8 January