Independent Alliance and North Korea
Sir, – Even if one believes, as I do, that some sort of political dialogue with the North Korean regime has to begin again, the proposed visit of the three Independent Alliance Ministers will not be the basis of that dialogue. Instead it will appear that Ireland is breaking ranks from the nearly unanimous horror with which the present regime in Pyongyang is internationally regarded. This would be a major diplomatic embarrassment and would kill any hope of another Irish seat on the UN Security Council. Disclaimers by the Irish Government that the three are an unofficial group of tourists buying their own tickets are unlikely to be taken seriously as long as they remain Ministers.
The Taoiseach is reported as saying that he will not send anybody to the airport to stop them travelling, and of course Ireland should remain a country that does not impose travel restrictions on its citizens. He should, however, state firmly that the moment that their plane takes off for North Korea they will lose their ministerial positions. If this precipitates another election, it is a price worth paying. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – When Messrs Ross, Halligan and McGrath visit Pyongyang, should they bring with them plans for the reconstruction of Stepaside Garda station on the 38th parallel?
Blessed are those who bring peace to the DMZ. They will return garlanded with red roses. – Yours, etc,