Letter: The 'No' case for peace

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YOUR LEADING article on the Omagh bomb, "We must not give up now" (16 August), says, about the 71 per cent of Northern Ireland voters who supported the Good Friday Agreement, "They voted for peace". You thereby reveal your view of the debate as one between Yes voters who were "for peace" and No voters who were not.

Rather than presuming to discern the sentiment of the 29 per cent who voted No, you might consider their arguments. Advocates of a No vote argued that the agreement - by making constitutional concessions to republicanism, which would not have been made but for the 30-year campaign of violence, and by reducing the punishments of terrorist convicts - increased the incentives and reduced the deterrents to terrorist violence. Their concerns were deepened by the fact that the concessions were being made without the IRA being required to hand in any of its weaponry, and, indeed, without the IRA or Sinn Fein having even to sign the agreement. In short, the argument was that these measures would weaken the prospects for peace.

In the aftermath of one of the worst terrorist outrages of the last 30 years in Northern Ireland, although it is too early to draw clear conclusions, you might care to reflect that perhaps the 29 per cent did have a case.

MICHAEL GRENFELL

Edgware, Middlesex

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