Letter: Violence seems to get results

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Sir: David McKittrick's article 'Loyalists convinced violence will work' (20 June) argues that the escalating acts of murder in Northern Ireland can be attributed to 'historical, political, economic and psychological' factors. But it seems to me that he has missed another very important factor: violence to gain political ends can be seen to have provided positive results in the fairly recent past.

Violence in the former Yugoslavia has resulted in international attempts at peace negotiations with the self-styled leaders of the warring factions, thus establishing their recognition. The Palestinian intifada (a political struggle under the aegis of religious conflict, as per Northern Ireland) has resulted in negotiations with Yasser Arafat, who has only recently abandoned the habit of wearing firearms at the conference table. Allegations of brutality against Winnie Mandela have not prevented her appointment to the South African Cabinet, nor has the obscenity of apartheid removed its perpetrators from the political arena. Saddam Hussein has retained power, despite international condemnation of his attack on Kuwait and his continued persecution of ethnic groups within his nation.

It is now known that our own government has secretly negotiated with Gerry Adams's Sinn Fein prior to the so-called 'Downing Street Declaration' and that the political leaders of Ireland and Britain are anxious, but unable, to call him to the conference table. It is thus that Adams will be recognised not only as a political 'voice', but that a political party which approves sectarian violence and murder will have its policies legitimated.

The demarcation between terrorist violence and revolutionary struggle for freedom has become so blurred that the former is accepted as an essential means to the latter. Arguably, both the loyalists and the republicans in Northern Ireland are rightly convinced that violence will work. It has already done so elsewhere.

Yours faithfully,


Bradford, West Yorkshire

20 June