Norse code for peace: LETTER

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UR leader "Just a few bits of old history" (26 February) reflects on the complexities of history and Britishness. You mention Fintan O'Toole's recent article on the interwoven nature of Britishness and Irishness. Yet it seems that O'Toole was making an even wider point than you credit him with.

Not only did he point to many on-going links within the island of Ireland, he also pointed to Catholics, North and South, identifying with football teams in Britain, that in these islands we watch the same kind of television (O'Toole is himself a presenter on Channel 4), work at the same kind of jobs and live in similar settings. As he succinctly puts it: "In life as it is lived, Britishness and Irishness have ceased to be opposites and become aspects of a much more complex web of affiliations and loyalties."

You are right to question the assumption that the peace process will inevitably lead to a united Ireland, as most liberal opinion in Britain seems to assume. Faced with these lived realities, it seems more likely that the British and the Irish are in the process of finally fashioning an accommodation along Scandinavian lines.

The conflicts which for centuries plagued that peninsula have been buried for good in the shape of the Nordic Council, an inter-parliamentary body which links five nations and three autonomous regions in close and mutually respectful co-operation. There seem many reasons why an analogous council should be developed on these islands.

Simon Partridge

London N2

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