The British government claims that there can be no change in the constitutional status of the North unless a majority here vote for an alternative. That is a convenience, not a principle, and is aimed at disguising the fact that the British government is the major obstacle to change and progress. Britain is the problem, yet it repeatedly harps on as if the irresolution of the problem were the fault of Irish nationalists, or the republican movement, or articles two and three of the Constitution of the Irish Republic.
Presently, the republican movement is making a serious effort to reach out to the Unionist community. The path to the new Ireland must involve reconciliation and agreement. A new Ireland cannot be formed without the consent of all the people of Ireland.
But the British government still evades its central responsibility. Britain's refusal to acknowledge the right of the Irish people to national self-determination while posing as neutral has to be exposed for what it is - the age-old imperialist claim. Britain does not want peace: it wants victory. It wants republicans to surrender the weapons of resistance, and Irish nationalists generally to tailor their aspirations to British interests, in return for Britain acting 'positively']
We here in the H-Blocks remember well a similar promise from a Tory government to act 'positively' when the first hunger strike ended. We soon discovered that there was no 'generosity', no 'flexibility', no 'positive developments'. The British government put the boot into the prisoners and we know the tragedy that followed.
It is up to Britain to recognise - as the Bishop of Liverpool did earlier this year - the wrongs it has committed against the people of this country. It is up to Britain to declare that it recognises it has no future in Ireland beyond facilitating agreement among the indigenous people of this country.
Let John Major reply positively soon to the overwhelming desire for peace with justice in Ireland.
Lisburn, Co Antrim
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