LETTER:When a killer can walk free

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From Mr John Walker

Sir: I find the decision to release Lee Clegg so soon after being convicted of killing a young person, in order to assuage right-wing unionists in the Tory party, utterly outrageous. Patrick Mayhew warned two weeks ago that John Major's unpopularity threatened the peace process - well, it is now his decision to release Clegg that marks what is probably the last nail in the coffin of those talks. The Government has clearly shown that peaceful dialogue does not yield meaningful results for the people of Ireland and hence brings back the gun and bomb into Irish politics.

While republican political prisoners languish in jail, many of whom never actually killed anyone, they and their families watch a British soldier go free after such a short stay. They cannot but be incensed by the double standards of the British government's treatment of prisoners. If there is ever going to be a settlement in Ireland, it is now evident that it is going to be a violent one, as dialogue has totally failed. This is not a threat but a political reality, as can be seen in Chechnya, Kurdistan, Bosnia and elsewhere.

But it's not just Irish people who fall foul of the Government protecting their own. Shiji Lapite, whose funeral was held last week six months after he died ("When police have a stranglehold on the truth", 3 July), is one among a number of people to have died in police custody without even an explanation of what happened, never mind the prosecution of those responsible. And young Asian people in Bradford have shown that you can only push people so far before you get an explosion of anger and violence. If the Government resorts to violence and cover-up, it can only expect a violent response.

Yours sincerely,

John Walker


3 July