Letter to Paul Murphy, Secretary of State, Northern Ireland

Mr. Paul Murphy M.P.,
Secretary of State Northern Ireland,
1 November, 2002.

Dear Paul,
It is around twelve years ago since I wrote to and spoke to you concerning my views on Northern Ireland, which you conveyed while the Labour Party were in Opposition to the then Shadow Northern Ireland ministers under Kevin McNamara.
I did not envisage then (did you?) that you would now have the responsibility of applying direct rule (albeit in a different way) than Oliver Cromwell, Raleigh or Sydney, or indeed Castlereagh.
I see that you have affirmed that the Good Friday Agreement must be the core of the Peace Process. I agree, although I have some criticisms of the electoral arrangements and feel that my suggestions on this to the Opsahl Commission in 1992 would be better.
I also note that you are meeting party leaders with the aim of getting the whole process to move forward, and that Unionists (both Ulster Unionists and Democratic Unionist Party) and representatives from Loyalist paramilitaries have held a joint meeting at a secret location somewhere in Germany.
Whether they have agreed to a joint front, by which to make demands, or proposals, to you remains to be seen. What they should have done was to insist that some decommissioning and a reduction of violence on Catholic communities would be high on their agenda. Apparently the Loyalist paramilitaries are still engaged in internecine conflict and have just shot one of their leaders in the legs, as a punishment of some sort.
In my view, the Prime Minister should not have lined up so directly behind the demand by Trimble and the Unionists for the disbanding of the IRA. Those of us who know and understand Irish history, and particularly Northern Ireland, are aware that this sort of stance will have the opposite effect and is profoundly counterproductive.
And we know also that, in effect, the War is over. Martin McGuinness indeed has said so recently and said that as a politician his job is to promote peace. I notice that onsequent to the demand for them to disband the Provisional IRA have suspended contacts with the De Chastelain Commission, which proves my point above.
As I see it the time between now and January 18th next year has to be used to reduce tensions and enable a short resumption of the Assembly prior to the election date in May by moves on decommissioning, first by the Loyalist paramilitaries, and a reconnection to the Commission by the Provos.
Then, if in the Queen's Speech proposals or intentions to legislate for a Bill of Rights and full implementation of the Patten Report, plus other governmental commitments in the Belfast Agreement are included we could expect a more specific indication from Republicans that violence and war was ended and politics paramount - a confirmation of what McGuinness has said.
The Unionists must stop playing games, which are designed to escape their share of the blame for the impasse and put all the onus on Nationalists and Republicans.
As Secretary of State you must ensure that the government moves away from the impression given by the Prime Minister that he was commited to the Unionist agenda.
You will of course be aware from my contacts with you over the years that Peace, Parity of Esteem and Equality, in all aspects of life, within a democratic framework, have been my objective.
If and when proposals for forwarding the Peace Process and a return to devolved government are in the public domain I would be pleased to have details so that Ican assess them and add them to my own records.
As you may be aware I have written on the subject for The Green Dragon magazine previously and since printed publication has ceased, for The Green Dragon website which has a section called Boyd's Box*.
I take this opportunity, as I did when you were first appointed to the Front Bench as a Northern Ireland Minister, to welcome you to your post as Secretary of State and will watch with interest how you approach this most onerous and important office.
I wish you well and that my compatriots, in both communities, will respond to the demands set by history to enter a productive democratic phase of reconciliation.

Yours sincerely,
Samuel H. Boyd, B.A.(Hons)Open.

I will of course seek public domain documents via my MP, Huw Edwards (Monmouth).

: Samuel H. Boyd, Cwmbran, 1 November, 2002.

*Samuel H. Boyd.