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

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The Independent Online
Sir: Yesterday's declaration by our Prime Minister and the Taoiseach contains the words, 'he (the Prime Minister) reiterates, on behalf of the British government, that they (sic) have no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland'. It is surely significant that no similar declaration is made on behalf of the government of the Republic of Ireland.

The phrase is remarkable from a man who protests Unionist credentials. But what can this phrase mean, other than that the British government wants to get rid of Northern Ireland, an integral part of the UK? I find it hard to believe that John Major would make the same statement about one of the other integral parts of the UK: England, Scotland and Wales.

How can a government not be selfish about part of its own national territory? How can it not have an economic interest in its own people and their land? Surely it has a duty to undertake a strategic interest in its security?

The plain truth of the matter is that Mr Major's government does not wish to govern Northern Ireland. He, like many others in our Parliament, does not feel that Northern Ireland really is part of his country.

This attitude gives hope to the IRA that it can take Northern Ireland out of the UK by force. It fires the IRA's supporters in the Republic of Ireland that annexation of Northern Ireland may be permitted by the Government in London. Mr Major might even be persuaded to pay for the process.

Yours faithfully,

J. FLOWERS

Glasgow

16 December

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