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The Brooke Talks... our view 

Since our last edition the much vaunted Brooke talks have come and gone. They were undoubtedly a public relations triumph for NIO dictator Peter Brooke and also John Hume who has been able to pass himself off as the epitome of sweet reason itself. The unionist teams lead by Messrs Paisley and Molyneaux only made themselves appear ridiculous in the eyes of much of the world's press and media. Unionist-bashing became a great sport as the quibbling over a venue for 'strand two' of the talks, standing orders and an independent chairman. To the outsider, this all appeared bewildering, as did the complaints about the July 16th meeting of the Anglo-Irish conference - a date originally accepted last March by all the participants.

In all the wrangling, the unionists strained at gnats but they have swallowed a camel by agreeing to talk on Dublin's terms. Dublin was willing to talk to 'fellow-Irishmen from another tradition' but not to northern members of the UK team as this would conflict with their `constitutional imperative' to enforce their rule over the whole island of Ireland. From a unionist perspective, it would not have been unreasonable for them to have insisted that they form part of the UK team and the British government could not have argued that Ulster is not part of the UK. It would have caused more than a few problems for Dublin.

However, for reasons which are unfathomable to us, the unionists threw away their ace and conceded a major point to the SDLP. They got hooked in a process which acknowledges a role for Dublin in Ulster's affairs. The three-strand process which was accepted by the unionists means that if there is no agreement on any one strand of the talks then there will be no agreement at all gives Dublin a veto over how Ulster is governed.

The end of the talks has stalled this process - at least for the time being. Brooke, Hume, and church leaders, Daly and Eames are all being terribly nice about the unionists. No blame is being attached to anyone. This is of course designed to bring them back to the negotiating table - probably with another `suspension' of the Hillsborough Pact. Having accepted this line before, they will be unable to refuse a second time seeing that everyone agrees that the first round of talks was so `constructive' and that foundations were laid for the future. Peter Brooke has shown by his handling of Messrs Paisley and Molyneaux that he is a masterful politician. The unionist, whether or not they realise it, have shown themselves to be totally inept. It is hard to see how the unionists will be able to get themselves off this hook. Independence or surrender

Unionism is a failed and reactionary creed. More and more people are realising that the Union is dead and that Ulster is being gradually integrated with the Irish Republic. If present trends continue, a 'united Ireland' seems probable soon. This can only be changed if the Ulster people have the vision and commitment to prepare for self-rule - Ulster independence. If our people are not prepared for such a step, we may as well surrender now on the most favourable germs possible. This at least would save many lives!

David Kerr

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