British Opinion On The North
Sir, - Mr Coyle (August 23rd), overlooks one vital, predetermining fact which is that at the heart of the Belfast Agreement lies the democratic principle of consent. The status of Ulster within the United Kingdom cannot change unless, to quote, "the participants . . . recognise the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by the majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status, whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Great Britain or a sovereign united Ireland".
The democratically expressed wishes of the people of Britain and the Irish Republic are expressed through Her Majesty's Government and Dβil ╔ireann who agreed the above wording, which subsequently the participants accepted.
In a professional poll undertaken in Northern Ireland last year, a surprising 53.2 per cent of Catholics preferred to remain in the United Kingdom, so it looks as if it will be a long time before there is a majority vote for unity.
It is hardly amazing that 46 per cent of Britons want a united Ireland. Ulster is extremely costly to subsidise and after endless efforts to tame the extremist communities, they have become more polarised than ever before. The end of the power-sharing experiment has arrived, helped on by Sinn FΘin/IRA activities in Colombia. But London is not blameless. By directing an initiative based on appeasing the pan-nationalists under John Hume and Gerry Adams, and by so doing humiliating the unionists, polarisation became inevitable.
And now we learn that Mo Mowlam has been teaching Colombian government officials to stage a repeat of her appeasement performance, this time with the FARC guerrillas, according to your Security Correspondent Jim Cusack (August 23rd). Perhaps as an encore Mr Patton should visit Colombia to advise them on how to destroy their no doubt excellent police force. Britain is an admirably pluralist country which played a huge part in defeating fascism in the second World War, yet it seems weak and helpless when it encounters fascism in its own backyard. - Yours, etc.,
P.R.F.Bury, Killiney, Co Dublin.