Letter: Speaker's ruling encourages IRA

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Sir: The ruling by the Speaker of the House of Commons to refuse Gerry Adams MP and Martin McGuinness MP facilities at the Palace of Westminster demonstrates, yet again, the hypocrisy of the British establishment. In the late 1970s and early 1980s successive British governments, both (Old) Labour and Conservative, challenged Irish Republicans to test their claims at the ballot box. Now that they have done so, the results are repudiated by the British ruling classes, and the democratic choices of Northern Ireland nationalists are set aside. It is gratifying to see that it is not only the Irish who keep changing the question.

At times one has the impression that the establishment would prefer that McGuinness and Adams had never abandoned violence. If, however, there is to be peace in Ireland it is with such groups as Sinn Fein that governments must have dialogue.

What purpose is served by the present exclusion, except to alienate further Irish nationalist opinion, and to give succour to the more militant spirits within the IRA who have always argued that Britain is not to be trusted and that nothing can be gained by constitutional means?

Dr OLIVER RAFFERTY

Oxford

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