Letter: Smaller units

MUCH AS we welcome Neal Ascherson's stimulating article on the Council of the Isles (18 January), we would like to correct misconceptions about our position.

While we are, in the longer-term, supporters of a Europe of the regions, it is not our intention to dump "nation-states in the dustbin of history". We do not believe nation-states will or should disappear overnight. This would ignore their sovereign status, established identities and common citizenship rights. But, like Ascherson, we do see that there is now a need for states to pool their sovereignty in larger, and smaller, relations.

We do not advocate the imminent dissolution of British and Irish sovereignty into a "regional association of islands". We agree with the joint Propositions on Heads of Agreement statement which proposed an intergovernmental council "to include representatives of the British and Irish governments, the Northern Ireland administration and the devolved institutions in Scotland and Wales". We hope in due course that the devolved regions of England will also be represented.

This seems a more realistic path to Ascherson's "council of equals", which we wholeheartedly endorse.

Richard Kearney

University College Dublin

Simon Partridge

London N2

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