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Blaming Ian Paisley as 'main instigator' of Troubles ignores the historical facts

In a recent letter (Write Back, February 14), Tom Cooper accuses Ian Paisley of being the main instigator of the Troubles, "from the '60s onwards". But this ignores the fact that, for many decades prior to that, the IRA carried out ongoing attacks in Northern Ireland.

Between 1956 and 1962, they murdered six RUC men and wounded 32. Before that, the IRA colluded with Nazi Germany and carried out a series of gun and bomb attacks here between 1942 and 1944, murdering two RUC constables and wounding many others.

In the early-20th century, their attacks on innocent Protestants in the south forced many to flee and resulted in the Protestant population there dropping by a third - the largest forced movement of people before the Second World War. As far back as 1867, the Irish Republican Brotherhood killed 12 people and injured 120 others with a bomb in England.

Unlike the IRA, Ian Paisley was not "active" in any of these earlier periods. In fact, since his death, we have witnessed continuing IRA violence by so-called "dissidents".

The problem in Ireland has always been the violent unwillingness of Irish republicans to accept the Britishness of over one million people in Ireland. As the late David Ervine used to say, unionists have no problem with their Irishness, but they have a problem with our Britishness.

The Irish government has finally accepted the right of unionists to self-determination. Only when republican terrorists do the same will we have peace on this island.

DAVID COLLINS

Belfast

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