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Past violence proves a real stumbling block

ORANGE Order County Grand Master George Chittick has touched a raw nerve in his comments on the Irish language (News, February 3).

What his comments convey, in this era of flag protests and upheaval, is that the nightmare scenario that John Hume and other SDLP politicians predicted – that IRA violence would eventually serve to be a barrier to real unity on this island – is rearing its ugly head again.

I don't think it is unfair to suggest that the IRA and Sinn Fein had a strategy during the Troubles that was intentionally blind to this reality and that their true motives were about getting even with unionists and the British, rather than achieving unity. They certainly did not fight a campaign to end up in Stormont administering – in their language – "British rule" in Ireland.

IRA violence was, of its nature, intended to have people live in fear, intimidated and cowed.

The IRA strategy was, to begin with, ostensibly to force a united Ireland, but this soon became a dishonest argument when it became apparent that it would only alienate unionists.

I'm sure that, in the fullness of time, the secret will be revealed that this IRA campaign was cut short in 1994 in an effort to belatedly deal with these realities, rather than it evolving out of talks with Charles Haughey, Fr Alex Reid, or even John Hume, who had already won all the arguments.

JOHN O'CONNELL

Derry

Belfast Telegraph

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