Letter:Honest broker for Ulster

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Sir: As an American professor of politics and for 20 years a resident of the home town of George Mitchell [chairman of the peace talks on Northern Ireland], I have followed his career closely since before he went to Washington ("Revealed: the `Irish-American' senator who is as Irish as a stuffed vine leaf", 17 June). Three comments might be of interest.

First, whilst his father was Irish and Catholic, his mother was Lebanese, and that Maronite tradition was a far more important part of his upbringing. Second, he has always been reasonably close to the Kennedys - most New England Democrats are. But those links have little to do with their stands on things Irish (as odd as that might seem to British readers) and reflect, instead, shared views on at least a dozen other issues. Finally, while no one would ever claim that George Mitchell has one of the great creative minds of the 20th century, he is a remarkably fair and honest man who excels at forging coalitions amongst disagreeing politicians. If a "third party" could help the peace process, few people in the world could do a better job.


Lower Shiplake, Oxfordshire