Letter: Ulster Unionists were always ready to talk

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was amazed to read your leading article 'Unionists lift taboo on talking' (1 July). This gave the impression that Unionists had never wished to talk with Dublin.

For the record, successive Ulster Unionist Party leaders had discussions with Dublin throughout the period of the Stormont Parliament - 1921 to 1972. Thereafter, Brian Faulkner, the Ulster Unionist leader, had discussions at Sunningdale in 1973 with both the Dublin and London premiers, as well as other Northern Ireland political parties.

In 1985, the Ulster Unionist leader, James Molyneaux, together with Ian Paisley, wrote to Mrs Thatcher to request that Unionists be allowed to be involved in the talks between Dublin and London at that time. Mrs Thatcher rejected the request of the Unionists to be involved in these talks. Instead, she imposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement at the end of 1985 on the people of Northern Ireland, and since then there has been total political stalemate and lack of dialogue.

After constant urging by the Unionist leaders, London and Dublin have, at last, agreed to consider a replacement of that agreement and so the present talks can commence.

What a pity that seven years have been lost due to London rejecting the Unionist request to talk.

Yours etc,

ROY BEGGS

MP for East Antrim

(Ulster Unionist)

House of Commons

London, SW1

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