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Civil Rights Key to Peace in Northern Ireland

November 19, 1993



I commend the Monitor for the attention it has given to the conflict in Northern Ireland - a tragedy too often ignored by the American media. The editorial ``Hope and Fear in Ulster,'' Nov. 3, rightly calls for a renewed commitment for a negotiated peace. However, no solution will succeed unless civil rights are vigorously applied to all the citizens of Northern Ireland.

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To date, the British government has demonstrated little regard for the civil rights of Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland. Indeed, Britain has been repeatedly criticized by Amnesty International, the European Parliament, and the Helsinki Watch for human rights violations in Northern Ireland. The imprisonment of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six are only the most notorious examples.

In addition to the endemic discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland in employment, housing, and social services, there is a growing body of evidence that alleges police and army collusion with Protestant terrorist groups to target Catholics for assassination.

One hopes the peace talks are set in motion as quickly as possible. But, until there is impartial justice and civil rights for all, I fear there will be no hope of peace in this war-torn corner of the world. Terry Jennings, New York Gun control and crime control

The editorial ``A Cry from the Capital,'' Oct. 25, notes that Washington, D.C., has more murders per capita and more police per capita than any other United States city. There is no mention of the fact the Washington, D.C., also has the most restrictive gun laws. When people promote more restrictive national gun laws to reduce crime, they should look at past experiments in this area. Frank Bergren, Anchorage, Alaska Gun control and crime control

The headline of the editorial ``Progressive Gun Control,'' Nov. 5, unintentionally states the very reason why gun owners oppose legislation aimed at legitimate gun owners. Ours is an incremental society. Progressive gun control is just what I fear. R. Landstrom, Cumberland, Ohio Privately funded vouchers

Your roundup of educational choice programs operating or proposed in the United States - ``After Ballot Setback, School-Choice Forces Plan a New Offensive,'' Nov. 5 - omits the privately funded voucher experiments that have sprung up since 1991. More than 4,700 low-income children in San Antonio; Austin, Texas; Indianapolis; Atlanta; Milwaukee; Little Rock, Ark.; Albany, N.Y.; Denver; and Phoenix are now attending the schools of their choice with 50-percent scholarships funded by corporate donations. Bipartisan support is developing for legislation to give a similar voucher with state funds. John K. Andrews Jr., San Antonio Don't underestimate Mexico

Regarding the Danziger cartoon, Nov. 8: Millions of hard-working Mexicans drive to work every day in American cars. The burro is hardly the mode of transportation of choice for most Mexican people.

The United States press erred by not educating the American people to the rapidly evolving Japanese economy and now they are doing the same thing with the Mexican economy. Valerie McCaffrey, Beverly Farms, Mass. Protect religious freedom

Regarding the timely Opinion page article ``Protecting Children and Religious Freedom,'' Nov. 3, urging us to contact our elected officials: The author writes, ``the legislature must pass a child-abuse law that ... does not impugn the lives of our Christian Scientist friends and neighbors.'' I did get busy, and I hope the author will be listened to by those elected to protect the very freedom on which America was founded. Helen Casner Walsh, Springfield, Ore.

[Editor's note: The subject of the Nov. 3 article was a Massachusetts child-abuse bill that includes stiff penalties and eliminates protection from prosecution for people who choose spiritual treatment for their children. The measure has passed both branches of the legislature and awaits the governor's consideration.]