Editor: William Pfaff's column, ''Problems Beyond the Reach of Goodwill'' (Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 24), suggests by its title the cause of the current trouble in the north of Ireland. That is the lack of goodwill.
It must be remembered that the ''troubles'' today are a result of the civil rights demonstrations of the late 1960s and early 1970s. At that time the marchers were met by loyalist (Protestant) gunmen as they peaceably demonstrated for equality in housing, employment and education. When the British army arrived in Belfast they were seen as the protectors of the minority Republican (Catholic) population from the militant loyalist. That view soon changed when it became apparent even to the most optimistic that the British had again occupied the north of Ireland for the sole purpose of enforcing the status quo. That is the
systemic denial of the most basic civil rights to the Republican minority.
In the 22 years that have followed the occupation, the British government has failed to address the real issues of discrimination. Once again an opportunity to bring justice to this tragic affair has been missed. To be sure there has been much window dressing but very little substance. The minority is still subjected to discrimination in public housing, employment laws recently put into effect are largely voluntary and do not address the core issue of historic denial of opportunity and the educational system squanders the talent of Irish Republican youth.
The problem it seems is that there has been a lack of goodwill on the part of the British government.
& J. Michael Lehane. Baltimore.
Hell in Haiti
Editor: We wish to applaud The Sun for its Feb. 3 editorial, "Hell in Haiti." We, too, believe that the people of Haiti are experiencing tremendous suffering.
Missionaries living in Haiti have attested to widespread persecution of the people by the military coup after the overthrew of President Aristide. The church-based Washington Office in Haiti receives information daily about killings and beatings and the desperate state of poor people.
It is difficult to understand how the U.S. government can speak so often and so forcefully about democratic elections and about human rights and yet fail to exert more influence to restore the democratically elected Jean Bertrand Aristide to his rightful position. It is likewise difficult to understand how the United States can turn away from massive misery and wholesale human rights violations in Haiti and repatriate those who have fled.
* Sr. Mary Louise Lynch. Sr. Helen Scheel. Baltimore.
Editor: Thank you for your cautiously optimistic Feb. 20 editorial, ''The City That Recycles.''
I guess you would say I am recklessly optimistic. I believe Baltimoreans are not as jaded and cynical as New Yorkers. We can see the common sense and positive value of recycling.
Recycling lets each person take an active part in creating raw materials to keep our system of producing food and goods going. I think Baltimoreans will also start to feel that if this lowliest of things, garbage, can be transformed into something of real value, then we can certainly do something to improve our housing stock in the city, our schools and the lives of our poorer citizens.
The city should help people to believe recycling has power by reporting on the tons of waste we divert from the incinerators each week or month. The Sun needs to help by printing this information. The city also needs to tell everyone what is actually happening to the materials -- which companies use them and how?
The paper we are recycling is going to a paper mill right here in Baltimore to make new products. We need more plants like that in Baltimore, if we expect people to get fully behind recycling.
Yes, the ambitious recycling program we have embarked on is risky. It will take luck and caring and many people's talents and perseverance to succeed. I think Baltimore can do it.
Tom Garrison. Baltimore.
Ban Heavy Trucks Downtown
Editor: Your Feb. 22 editorial, ''Making Downtown Dynamic,'' urged implementation of a special assessment district to improve the competitive position of downtown and make it more attractive to shoppers and visitors.
You should be equally supportive of many of the worthwhile recommendations made last May in the report entitled ''A Twenty Year Strategy for Downtown Baltimore.'' Among the more notable and least costly of these was a proposal to make downtown more pleasantly walkable by reducing the amount of heavy truck traffic, slowing all traffic to reasonable speeds and .. improving the pedestrian environment.
The opening of the stadium and the advent of the first phase of light rail make such an objective not only desirable but also imperative.
The numbers of people walking to and from the stadium will increase dramatically. An intense effort should be made now to improve the deplorable state of downtown traffic and pedestrian safety.