NATO and Northern Ireland

The column ``Defense largess and the Old Sod'' Nov. 17 referred to Ireland's military neutrality and to the Anglo-Irish Agreement in a manner which seriously misrepresented the factual position in relation to both. Since the foundation of the state, Ireland has remained apart from all military alliances. This position is supported by all political parties in Ireland and by Irish public opinion. The article reports me as stating that Ireland is being dissuaded by officials in Brussels from joining NATO. There is no question of either being persuaded to or dissuaded from joining NATO.

The column also seems to ignore that the purpose of the Anglo-Irish Agreement is to promote reconciliation between the two traditions in Ireland. It is equally regrettable that the author discusses the US attitude to the agreement only in terms of his own conceptions of certain strategic doctrines.

Readers may be interested in further facts concerning the International Fund about which this article was so discouraging. The fund was established under the Anglo-Irish Agreement to promote the economic and social development of those areas of both parts of Ireland which have suffered most severely from the consequences of the instability of recent years. Not only the United States, but Canada and New Zealand as well, are contributing to the fund, and we hope that other countries with which we enjoy special friendship will add their names to this list. We look forward to this not only because of the economic benefits which ensue, but because of the strong encouragement it gives to those who are engaged in establishing a society in Northern Ireland in which all may live in peace, free from discrimination and intolerance. Anne Barrington Press and Consulate General Information Officer of Ireland New York

They're speechless It's ironic that in a country which prides itself on freedom of speech, congressmen should feel free to speak their mind only upon retirement [``Senators cite their grievances with `world's greatest deliberative body''' Nov. 20]. When George Aiken, the senator from Vermont, retired, he said: ``I have voted for measures which I felt were wrong, comforting myself with the excuse that the House of Representatives, the conference committee, or, if necessary, the chief occupant of the White House would make the proper corrections'' (the Milwaukee Journal, Dec. 12, 1974). The choice seems to be between statesmanship or getting elected and staying in office. Helen Chrapla Neenah, Wis.

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