LETTERS: Symbolism in decommissioning of IRA arms

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From Mr John Doheny

Sir: George Huxley (letter, 28 December) got it wrong. It matters not a whit that the preliminary decommissioning of some or all IRA weapons was not, in fact, a precondition set out in the Downing Street Declaration. It matters even less that the decommissioning issue was, as Professor Huxley takes pains to emphasise, dragged in later as a sop to Ulster Unionists.

The issue is not how the decommissioning issue came to dominate the agenda. That perspective reeks of the very sectarianism that the so-called peace process labours to overcome, each side digging in along lines of entrenched prejudice while labouring to extract whatever propaganda and tactical advantage is to be had.

Indeed, both sides already seem bogged down in issues thrown up not so much by the enforced political division of Ireland in 1921, but by the latent sectarian hatreds virulent in the North and the South since the Reformation.

The real question is why the decommissioning football threatens to blow up in everybody's face. The answer: two Christian sects forever at deadly enmity. Indeed, the row over decommissioning can be seen as a symptom of the underlying sectarian pathology. If the cause did not exist, neither would the symptom. Take the medical analogy a step further and look at the so-called peace process as a symptom in its own right.

The detached perspectiverecognises the futility of wilfully creating a new symptom in the vain hope that by tormenting it with one-sided assertions, such as those put about by Professor Huxley, the related - and potentially lethal - symptoms will magically disappear.

They will not.

Yours sincerely,

John Doheny

Cult Research International

London N8

28 December