Sir: Like Sir Patrick Mayhew, I am optimistic about the 12-month ceasefire and the development of the peace process in Northern Ireland. However, the critical question about the decommissioning of arms by the IRA need not be the stumbling block to peace talks and an acceptable political settlement. Apart from the fact that nobody seems to raise the matter of the large amount of weapons in the hands of Protestant paramilitaries, when did peace talks take place after the handing in of guns and ammunition?
The fact is, nowhere: not in Kenya with the Mau Mau, in Cyprus with Eoka, in Vietnam with the Viet Cong, in Zimbabwe with Zapu-PF, with Swapo in Namibia and definitely not with the ANC in South Africa.
So, is it any wonder that there is widespread suspicion about the British Government's intentions? If the proposed international commission on decommissioning goes ahead, then its brief must include all arms; but nothing should stand in the way of all-party talks, and these should start immediately.
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