LETTERS : How to have a say in Ireland

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"IF WHAT you want for Ireland is a secular, English-speaking welfare state, what on earth was the point of independence?" Geoffrey Wheatcroft's belief that he is the first to question the purpose of Irish unity culminates in this Middle English narrow-mindedness ("Is partition still the only answer?", 5 February).

The point of independence was to give the people of Ireland some influence over their own government and not leave it to English people. Australia and Canada are probably rather relieved that they are not run from Westminster. Scotland seems now to be coming round to the same view.

One good reason why Northern Irish Protestants should join a united Ireland is that they form a fifth of the Irish population. This would yield them about 33 out of 166 TDs in the Dail, giving them much more influence over their own affairs than with the 13 out of 650 Westminster seats currently held by Unionists.

Mr Wheatcroft thinks it would be more practical to resettle the Ulster Protestant population in Britain than to unite Ireland. It would be more practical for him to find out about Ireland and its history before resorting to wild generalisations.

Mark Tottenham

London SW9

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