Let those who want best for Ireland speak

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 February, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 February, 1994, 12:00am

MARGARET Colhoun Salasidis (South China Morning Post, February 17) considers that, in respect of Northern Ireland, the British have run out of ideas. ''Why not'', she continues, ''let someone offer some of their thoughts?'' I agree, but is Gerry Adams the right man for the job? He certainly was, and is believed by many still to be, a member of the Provisional IRA Army Council.

For those not aware of this august body, it exists to plan how best to kill and maim as many people as possible, regardless of age, religion or profession. That it does not manage to inflict even more misery on the long-suffering population of Northern Ireland is due, in great part, to the presence of the British Army.

Mr Adams is without doubt a slick and skilled communicator but he carefully avoided those interviewers with the technique and knowledge to expose his articulate but, at best, empty arguments, well ''sound-byted'' though they undoubtedly are.

Mr Adams talks persuasively. So did Hitler and Goebbels. Eloquence is not synonymous with honesty.

I do not believe for one second that a commitment on the part of the British Army to remove its troops from the streets would be met by the IRA gratefully surrendering their weapons to Springfield Road Police Station.

It is equally inconceivable that any responsible government would allow the wishes of a tiny and bloodthirsty minority to form the basis of a policy affecting the majority of Ulster's population, whose greatest wish is to be allowed to live in peace, free from revolting excesses of the extreme elements on both sides.

The British suggestion that the IRA renounce violence seems a fair one. Of course, the IRA does not see it that way because violence is the only lever available to it. Its leaders remember all too well the result of the last referendum taken in Northern Ireland in 1973: 591,820 in favour of retaining links with Britain; 6,463 for links with the Republic of Ireland.

Yes, by all means let us have fresh ideas but only from those who have the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland at heart and not from unregenerate supporters of terrorist organisations, however good they may be at manipulating the electronic media.

In the meantime, the men and women of the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary must continue to protect the population with the courage and selflessness so conspicuously absent from Adams' (former?) comrades-in-arms.