Letter: Ulster seizes the moral low ground

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The Independent Online
Sir: So once again the summer madness is upon us, and once again we are treated to the spectacle of Ulster tearing itself apart. Dr Mo Mowlam could be forgiven for thinking she has strayed into a looking-glass world, where the objective of both sides is to seize the moral low ground, and negotiations are conducted by five-year-olds threatening to scream and scream until they are sick if they don't get their own way.

Given the lack of a political solution, the RUC's decision to allow the Drumcree march is understandable: whatever they do, one side or the other will riot and the RUC will take the brunt of it, so they might as well offend the side with the smaller number of potential rioters.

However, morally it was the wrong decision. Faced with such intransigence from both sides, the Government should intervene against whichever side is acting more provocatively. Since in this case the Orange parade could have returned from church the way it came, offending no one, the insistence on marching down the Garvaghy Road can only be seen as provocative.

Bafflingly, many Orangemen seem genuinely unable to understand why the Garvaghy Road residents object so strongly to their parade. Anywhere but Ulster, one might hope that they could be persuaded to reroute their march and claim a victory for common sense and the peace process. They must realise that if there is ever to be a lasting settlement, both sides will have to give a little, and somebody has to be first.

JON PERKINS

London N15

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