Letter: Working out the processes of peace in Northern Ireland

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The Independent Online
From Mr Sandy Campbell

Sir: The time has come to show some respect to the IRA and the UVF/UFF. These are the soldiers who have stuck their necks out for peace. It is they who risked their lives fighting for their communities, protecting them from hostile forces and avenging their grievances. I never could accept the double-think of calling the PLO "guerrilla fighters" and Republican and Loyalist volunteers "terrorists". Show me a war anywhere without terror, bomb blasts and civilian casualties.

It is a year on. We should be able to face the truth now that we in Britain and Ireland collectively, and Northern Ireland particularly, are coming out of a war. Like any war it was not fought lightly. Churchill spoke of the "sincerity of their [nationalists and Unionists] quarrel". Men and women from both communities gave their lives for their beliefs, because they sincerely believed they had no alternative than to stand and fight.

Magnificent effort is being made to build understanding on the streets where it matters, where mourning relatives still live and where any future mourning would take place. If they can make the effort, why can't the rest of us? The least the Government forces could do is start treating their former enemy, who laid down their arms on trust, with the respect of talking to them, openly and with other parties present, without any more provocative preconditions.

Yours sincerely,

Sandy Campbell