Sir, - It was helpful to have an assurance from the Charge d'Affaires of the British Embassy, Mr Clarke, that there was no "deliberate connection" between defamatory reports in the newspapers of an affair between Ms Martha Pope (President Clinton's adviser in Northern Ireland) and Gerard Kelly, a former senior IRA member, the release of Sean O'Callaghan, and the detention of Gerry Adams and Gerard Kelly. These events all occurred last month, during the period when John Hume and Adams were attempting to put together a peace process.

Mr Clarke was replying to a letter of mine of December 30th, asking for an assurance that these events were coincidental. I accept, of course, his assurance that there was no deliberate connection".

The source from which I quoted, however (an Observer columnist), was of the opinion that the timing of these events had all thee hallmarks of "the thinking of certain diehard sections of British Intelligence". Sadly, if anyone from the British side wanted to shatter the peace process, they could hardly have done better than to choreograph a scenario similar to the one presented through the three events mentioned.

If it sounds preposterous that British Intelligence would work against Government policy, we have only to recall how it is now accepted that it tried to destabilise Harold Wilson's Government in the 1970s, in order to help his opponents into Government. Having accepted Mr Clarke's exoneration of his Government for any responsibility in this affair, it would be useful to have his views about the suggested input of the Intelligence services. - Yours, etc.,

Fairfield Park, Rathgar, Dublin 6.