REGARDING John Blunt's remarks (LET, April 15) that Ireland must grasp peace, for the first time I was in agreement with him.

Then came his final statement that if the people of Ireland don't vote 'yes' to the agreement, they should be cut adrift and left to rot.

At this point I must remind him that the British Government are entirely responsible for the situation that has existed in Ireland and which began with the colonisation of the country with Henry II's invasion in the 12th century.

Then came the Act of Union in 1800 followed by partition in 1921 and the forming of the six-county state of Ulster which has been under the control of Unionists who have been supported by consecutive British governments, both Tory and Labour, which were fully aware of the undemocratic system of unfair sharing of jobs and housing.

In 1914, it was estimated that 20,000 people were employed in Belfast shipyards of which 300 were Catholics, despite the fact that one quarter of the population of Belfast city were Catholics.

I was born into a Protestant community there in 1930 and went to a Protestant school where I was taught history (not Irish history, may I add) and I grew up with a sense of distrust of Catholics and thought of the south of Ireland as a foreign country. The working class were divided, all living in poverty and carried along by bigotry which was ideal for the Conservative and Unionist party.

It is also a fact that in Northern Ireland unemployment has been higher than any other part of the British Isles and this was the reason why I came to England in 1960 (no regrets) and here I found that my fellow worker was unaware of my religion, or I of his.

If we teach our children hatred and bigotry for people of a different race, religion or colour and they grow up with this attitude, then it will take years to change opinions and unfortunately there are politicians who are only too happy to encourage bigotry in Ulster.

There are also politicians like John Hume who have struggled long and hard to achieve peace in Ulster. These are the people who deserve praise and others roundly condemned.

John Blunt talks of a referendum for the rest of us. I agree, but it should have taken place in 1921-22 and thousands of lives could have been saved. I would also remind him that in the two world wars, thousands of Irishmen volunteered to defend democracy and in the first two days of the battle of the Somme the 36th Ulster Division lost 5,500 killed and wounded.

I say no to John Blunt's opinion, but let's all try, try and try again to bring peace to Ireland and hope that all fair minded people north and south will vote 'yes' to the agreement and leave the bigots adrift.

The Irish are sadly not responsible for problems that have existed in their country for hundreds of years and now they need assistance to bring peace, not desertion.

AN ULSTERMAN, Nelson (name and address received)

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.