Letter: Working out the processes of peace in Northern Ireland

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From Mr Michael Harrison

Sir: Your front-page comment on the anniversary of the peace process ("The pessimists have been confounded", 1 September) was a classic example of an interesting phenomenon to have appeared among many media commentators over the past year. This is the view that the peace process is, of itself, good; and that it follows that those who are pessimistic about its prospects are either lacking in vision, or, worse, wish the process to fail in order to boost their own sectarian dogma. The reality is that many right-minded people in Ulster believe the process has little long-term chance of success simply because the political, tribal and territorial aspirations of both sides, and their arsenals, remain entirely unchanged.

Alongside this there has been no sign whatever of any flexibility or willingness to compromise from the main combatants. While this situation exists, the peace process will remain what it has always been: an artifice created by political hype and sophistry kept in being by the huge desire for peace among the populace. This desire cannot sustain it indefinitely. But, they cry, what about the achievement of the ceasefire? Sadly, most of us in Northern Ireland know that Gerry Adams cannot be summed up as "the man who argued with the IRA". He is rather the man who supported their use of violence for 25 years, will support it when it resumes, and whose recent support for non-violence is not typical, but tactical.

Yours,

Michael Harrison

Belfast

2 September

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