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'Carnage in Northern Ireland'

September 11, 1988

Your editorial said that the sooner the process of reconciliation starts between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland the better. The British government agrees with that. The vast majority of people on both sides of the religious divide in Northern Ireland agree also. So does the U.S. government. So does the Irish government. The terrorist Irish Republican Army does not. For them reconciliation is anathema. For them progress is something gained by an Armalite rifle and a Semtex bomb. Their objective is to foment hatred and chaos because they know--and this has been shown repeatedly in elections in Northern Ireland--that they cannot win through the ballot box. And they have always failed to secure the support of a majority of Catholic voters in Northern Ireland.

Against that background, your comments on the role of the British Army read strangely. The Army is there in support of the civil power, the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Both face terrorist IRA violence on an almost daily basis. Surely you are not suggesting that the forces of law and order should be weakened so as to allow that violence to flourish even more.

Discrimination in housing and education no longer exists in Northern Ireland; and there is equality of opportunity between the two communities. But it is true that unemployment remains higher among Catholics than among Protestants. The British government is at present preparing new legislation to tackle that problem. And on fairness under the law, the people of the United Kingdom no less than the people of the United States hold to one single and important democratic principle: equality before the law.

E.D. O'MAHONY

Acting British Consul-General

Los Angeles

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