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Ireland and the left

Peace of a kind may be coming to Northern Ireland. But, says Geoffrey Wheatcroft, it is no thanks to the soft-headed indulgence of the republican movement by the old British left

As Gerry Adams was on his way to visit Downing Street for the first time last December, he stopped to sign copies of his latest book at “a socialist bookshop in Bloomsbury Street.” Reading these words, I thought of Joe Hendron, physician and former SDLP member for Belfast West, and of John Banville, novelist, critic and literary editor of the Irish Times.

In the spring of 1996, a year before the general election in which he lost his seat to Adams, Hendron denounced Sinn Fein as “a sectarian and fascist organisation.” And earlier, in September 1994, when asked his reaction…

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