LETTERS: Protestant views from Ulster

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The Independent Online
Sir: Let me tell you about middle-class Northern Irish Protestants. We listen to Paisley rant and our toes curl in embarrassment. We hear Jim Molyneaux and wish he would acquire some courage and vision to go with his decency. We listen to Hume an d Adamsand find, to our discomfort, that we actually agree with a lot of what they say. We know the British want out. We know that the Nationalist community needs recognition and accommodation.

We are afraid to discuss these things with our fellow Protestants, never mind anyone else. The same old tired names and choices appear on the ballot papers each election. The newspapers interview the citizens of the Shankill Road to gauge opinion, not the inhabitants of the leafy suburbs of South Belfast. We feel impotent and confused.

What do we do then? We keep silent and retreat into our comfortable lifestyles with our recreation, good schools and safe areas largely untouched by the Troubles. We have lived this way for the past 25 years. The Government's challenge is to shake us outof our complacency, force us to confront reality and find a way to give us voice and political empowerment.

Yours faithfully, Philip Weir Belfast 3 February