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What's needed for Northern Ireland

Responding to your May 9 editorial "Decision time in Ulster": If Northern Ireland is ever to leave behind its violent and troubled past, there must be a full accounting of governmental and security force misdeeds, just as there has to be a full accounting of murderous acts by paramilitary groups - loyalist and republican.

All sides of the conflict carry secrets that make for disturbing reading. But only the truth and full truth is a basis for a new security. Only the truth will force the warring parties to let go of the jaded shibboleths that have retarded the growth of a viable and inclusive democracy.

Sir John Stevens, commissioner of metropolitan police, is investigating the allegation that elements of the British government security apparatus in Northern Ireland engaged in acts of collusion with loyalist paramilitaries. A full public inquiry into collusion might take place.

An inquiry would certainly require full access to the Stevens report before it could reach publicly acceptable conclusions of its own. It is better to reveal fully the findings of the Stevens inquiry, either as a complete document in its own right or as evidence in the course of court prosecution. Then we will all better understand the history of Northern Ireland.
John O'Day
Forestville, N.Y.

To characterize Sinn Fein as the political wing of the Irish Republican Army is to miss the reality of a political party which has demonstrated its commitment to democratic process and peaceful change.

Additionally, it is the IRA that is faulted; there is no indication of the existence of unionist paramilitaries and the violence these forces perpetrate against the nationalist community.

The North now moves into "the marching season." One can only hope that the level of violence against nationalists by unionists is not exacerbated by Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to bow again to pressure by David Trimble and the Ulster Unionist Party.


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