A MOST interesting letter on Monday from an Elizabeth Whelan (post-graduate), Chemistry Department, St Patrick's College, Maynooth, and which refers to "the breakdown" of the IRA ceasefire which she attributes to the British government, which "precipitated the situation by sacrificing a chance to end conflict on our island in return for unionist votes".

She adds how bizarre, sad and depressing that the Government here has decided to "appease John Major's government by blaming and ostracising Sinn Fein. "That is not good enough," writes Elizabeth Whelan (post graduate). "If John Bruton's coalition Government, who, I might add, must accept their own share of responsibility for the London bombings are not better able to serve us then I feel they would do best to resign."

Good on you, Lizzie Whelan (post graduate). So we have two sets of people responsible for the "breakdown". One is the British government. The other is our own. The people not mentioned as having responsibility belong to Sinn Fein, who "have worked as hard and harder than anyone in order to keep the peace process from collapsing".

Three dead, many maimed

Collapsing, breakdown; such virtuous, unculpable words, Lizzie Whelan (post graduate).

Breakdowns are unsought and largely accidental phenomena associated with cars; and collapses also contain the suggestion of unintentionality, the Tay Bridge tragically disintegrating and toppling into the foaming waters below.

But the ceasefire did not experience a breakdown; it did not experience a collapse. It was ended. And it was ended not by John Major and not by John Bruton but by the IRA, the one people Lizzie Whelan (postgraduate) did not choose to name when seeking to attribute blame for the violence which killed three people in London and maimed scores of others.

I admit a passing interest in Lizzie Whelan (post graduate), of the Chemistry Department, St Patrick's College, Maynooth. The one people who have accepted blame for the London bombing are the one people she does not mention as being responsible. The one group she identifies as working as harder or harder than anyone else to keep the peace process from collapsing are Sinn Fein.

Dazzling, dazzling stuff; for the front page photograph in The Irish Times on Tuesday contains a photograph of a Sinn Fein delegation which includes Martin McGuinness, who proudly boasted to the Special Criminal Court in 1973 of his involvement with the IRA when charged with the possession of a large quantity of gelignite, and Gerry Kelly, who bombed London in 1973 and who participated in the Maze escape in which a prison warder died.

As I say, dazzling, dazzling stuff. Does Lizzie Whelan (postgraduate) employ the same causative logic in her chemistry lab? Because I certainly would not like to be anywhere, near her when she is playing with phosphorus, sodium metal, some carbide and water in her test tube. Merely telling those chemicals that you don't want an explosion need not necessarily convince them not to go whoomp, and who then will she blame for the fate of the chemical lab, most of which is spread between Wexford and Antrim? Herself or those who demonstrably had nothing to do with her chemical delights?

Bizarre logic

She is not alone in her bizarre use of logic and language. The peace march in Dublin, and lamp posts in the city since, were marked by hundreds of placards demanding, Don't let the Tories wreck the ceasefire." Don't let the . . . what?.

What we have here is known, I think, as cognitive dissonance or, in other words, I haven't got a bloody clue what you're talking about. Don't Let the Tories Wreck the ceasefire. What ceasefire? It is gone. Over. Dead. Ended by the IRA.

It was not the Tories who rang the RTE newsroom three weeks ago tomorrow and said that the complete cessation of hostilities was at an end. It was not the Tories - or so I'm led to believe - who an hour later detonated a huge bomb in Canary Wharf, killing two harmless men and injuring over 100 other people.

No doubt these are irrelevant little details to some minds; this mind remembers what was promised 18 months ago. We were promised peace, regardless; peace, no matter what; peace beyond caveat or cavil; peace unconditional, complete and enduring. We were not told, peace provided all party talks take place; we were not told, peace provided this or peace provided that.

Peace on those terms is not peace. Talks on those terms can only produce a settlement which will collapse or break down the moment the gun is holstered. Conditional peace is not peace; it is incipient war. And no lasting deals can be done in those circumstances.

Political damage

We were all lied to by Sinn Fein IRA on this issue. Prisoners were released. Security was lifted. Surveillance was stopped though, as the Mitchell. report noted, targeting of police officers did not.

I think Sinn Fein IRA have not the least idea of the political damage they have done; they do not understand that all the predictions of unionists about the untrustworthiness of Sinn Fein IRA have been validated and vindicated. Sinn Fein IRA live in a command culture. They allocate blame to others for their deeds and attribute victimhood to themselves, and their followers believe, always believe.

What words will Sinn Fein IRA now offer as the dulcet but entirely credible assurance to those who are not their followers that the killing is over? Those words do not exist in the English language; they exist in none.

They exist only in the minds of those who think that others can be blamed for what the IRA alone has done; and those minds use words which have meanings unknown to the rest of us; weasel words like "breakdown" to describe an atrocity, and "collapse" to define terrorist slaughter of the innocent.