Letter: Trouble with US visit

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The Independent Online
Sir: In her letter (3 February) Ms A. Arink discloses the very reasons for the British frustration at the visit of Gerry Adams to the US. She writes:

British atrocities towards Ireland over the centuries make many Americans uncomfortable and will, reasonably, elicit a sympathetic response . . . many Americans wanted to hear Mr Adams's views in order to make their own judgements.

The problem with the recent Adams visit was that: (a) Sinn Fein represented themselves as being the proper vehicle for that (perfectly reasonable) sympathy of which Ms Arink speaks, when they do not represent the consensus of the Irish themselves north and/or south of the border; (b) Americans wishing to hear Mr Adams's views did not get them; rather, he represented himself as 'a man of peace' when he has always defended the use of violence towards innocent people in the past, and elusively declined to denounce it in the future.

The tragedy of the Six Counties is that the more extreme each side is, the more they are 'students of history', constantly pointing to past atrocities to justify the continuation of violence.

The anger on this side of the Atlantic is that no one in the US appeared to press Mr Adams on these crucial points, but reverentially let him say what he wanted without, it seemed, any telling challenge.

Yours faithfully,

STEVEN RHODES

London, SW4

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