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BRITISH FORCED THE IRA TO DEFEND ITSELF

In response to Cal Thomas' ill-informed viewpoint printed March 16:

He states, "The terrorism began with the IRA." This couldn't be further from the truth. The modern Irish Republican Army was formed to defend against state-sponsored terrorist attacks against Catholics living in Derry and Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Loyalist mobs, backed by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, attacked peaceful civil rights demonstrators and continued those attacks into Catholic neighborhoods, beating people and burning down homes. I wonder how Mr. Thomas would react if the police broke into his home and beat him in front of his family just because of his religion?

To blame the last 20 years of warfare on the IRA, and especially Sinn Fein, shows an ignorance of the facts. Discrimination against and harassment of Catholics in Northern Ireland goes on today.

I salute President Clinton for his invitation to Gerry Adams. It's high time the United States applied some pressure on England to recognize the political party that is the legally elected representative of many of the people who live in Northern Ireland today.

KEVIN CONNORS
Kenmore

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