21 FEBRUARY 1987, Page 27

LETTERS Unequal citizenship

Sir: What a pity that Stan Gebler Davies's fine gesture of standing as a Conservative and Unionist in the Eire elections cannot be repeated in a part of our own country, viz Northern Ireland.

Since partition, the people of Ulster have had to make do with political parties whose sole purpose it is to register agree- ment with the continuation of the Union with Great Britain, or dissatisfaction with it. The normal political divisions which characterise other Western nations, i.e. those based on socio-economic percep- tions, have not been allowed them.

No candidate — not even Mr Gebler Davies — could stand in a Northern Ireland constituency as an officially recog- nised Conservative candidate, because Conservative Central Office currently re- fuses to allow Conservative supporters in Northern Ireland to form Associations (although donations to Tory Party funds are, apparently, wholly acceptable). In- deed, none of the main parties fields candidates in Ulster, so Ulster people are not allowed to be Socialists or Liberals or Social Democrats either, merely 'Union- ists' or 'Nationalists'.

This is no whimsical or abstract grie- vance. It means that the politics of North- ern Ireland remain locked in the futile sectarianism that lies as the basis of the blood-letting. It represents, too, a demo- cratic injustice: where else in a democracy is a proportion of the population denied the right to vote for the parties that stand a chance of forming the Government?

Only when the main parties extend the principle of equal citizenship to Ulster will the 'border question' be removed from politics. But who knows? Maybe Mr Geb- ler Davies will start the movement that sweeps a Unionist government into power in Dublin and save them the trouble!

Stuart A. Notholt

180 Elgar Lodge, Fair Acres, Hayesford Park, Bromley, Kent