Letter: Why Ulster Unionists gave Anglo-Irish declaration a cool reception

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The Independent Online
Sir: Optimism is not a word I have used frequently when discussing the problems of Northern Ireland; however, the Anglo-Irish declaration finally provides a framework for progress within my homeland.

As with all previous efforts to secure peace for the island, the silver lining is already being obscured by another dark cloud. Throughout my time at university, I was constantly denounced as a 'Paisleyite' for my pro-Union views. The abrasive character of the Democratic Unionist leader ensures that many Ulster Protestants are automatically assumed to be as intransigent as Ian Paisley. It is now up to the people of Northern Ireland to dissociate themselves from the stonewalling, and demonstrate a common desire to end the conflict that blights our country.

The courage and enthusiasm shown by Albert Reynolds and John Major must be mirrored by concerted efforts within both communities to abandon the margins. For Unionists, there is no better way to demonstrate their resolve for peace than to censure the likes of Dr Paisley. A man who condemned the declaration before having read it is surely on the brink of ideological bankruptcy. As your leading article (16 December) emphasised, Unionists have no vested interest in conflict; so why pay lip service to the blinkered attitudes of Dr Paisley and Peter Robinson?

Yours faithfully,

NEIL TEMPLETON

Withington,

Greater Manchester

16 December

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