28 NOVEMBER 1987, Page 28

• Ulster solution?

Sir: You are correct to state that the present constitutional position of Northern Ireland is ambiguous and that such ambi- guity can but provide an incentive for the Provisional IRA to continue and even increase its activities (Leading article, 14 November).

However, as a solution your main re- commendation is nonsense. The reintro- duction of internment, selective or other- wise, is uncertain to allay the justifiable suspicion with which the Unionist popula- tion views British policy, but is likely, by its nature, to leave the minority Catholic community with little doubt as to its status in the province. Indeed, it is this sporadic 'topping-up' of sympathy and support for the IRA that has characterised British policy in the past and which present policy-makers would be well warned to avoid now. It is extremely difficult to envisage any alternative outcome to that which succeeded the introduction of in- ternment in 1971 and, for that matter, has historically followed policies perceived as persecuting Irish republicans.

The objective problem facing the British Government in Northern Ireland is one of a lack of credibility among both communi- ties. This cannot be solved, as The Specta- tor would have it, by the penny gift of internment. Such short-sighted recom- mendations typify the usual self-appeasing `solutions' that invariably surface at such times.

But then you do not really propose internment — euphemised or not — as a solution, do you?

Michael H. Tumelty

158 Holders Hill Road, Mill Hill, London NW7