Blinkered interpretation of history
At a parade organised by the Royal Black Institution in Bangor the grand master, William Anderson, became the latest loyalist to attempt to rewrite the history of the Troubles for their supporters. Anderson jumped on the political bandwagon of those who would like history to be rewritten to support their interpretation and deny the facts that are recorded and open for all to see and read.
It is understandable why groups like the Black Order would like history to be rewritten as it would destroy all the indisputable evidence of the origins of the Troubles and why the war (as James Callaghan described it) went on for so long. It was a guerrilla war in which, as in all wars, lives were lost, many non-combatants suffered and atrocities occurred on all sides, but unionism’s policy of oppression and sectarian discrimination made this totally unavoidable – and that is to their eternal shame.
Republicans did not want this war and only entered it when all other peaceful options had been rejected by the unionist and loyalist population of the six counties. They rejected Sunningdale (a power sharing institution) using the Ulster Workers’ Council strike in the early 1970s to bring it down, clearly indicating that the Catholic/nationalist community would never be given equal civil rights.
Continued violent attacks on peaceful nationalists on the streets, internment without trial, British army raids on Catholic homes, the creation of the sectarian UDR and the random arrests of completely innocent nationalists led to the war continuing for far too long. The creation of the H-Blocks and the inhumane treatment of republican political prisoners and the constant collusion of state forces with loyalist paramilitaries, resulting in countless murders of innocent Catholics, all prolonged the war.
Perhaps Mr Anderson should educate himself on the history of the six counties during these very dark days for Catholics and nationalists and he might then understand why the struggle continued for so long. The blame for these events lies fairly and squarely in the hands of the British government, not least the government led by the late Margaret Thatcher, whose only aim was to defeat the PIRA rather than negotiate for a peace agreement acceptable to both sides. When they eventually travelled this path they found republicans more than prepared to join them and the result was the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Anderson should be striving to ensure that we all concentrate on the current journey to permanent peace and reconciliation.
Craigavon, Co Armagh
The All-Ireland Church leaders’ statement on the cost of living crisis urges both governments to do more – but doesn’t mention what they can do right now.
Shouldn’t they have offered Godly (spiritual) guidance about how our Maker might help right now? Why haven’t they for instance suggested a suitable simple prayer their flocks can say? That might generate a wee bit of peace of mind for folk battling cost-of-living problems - folk who can’t sleep worrying about electricity bills, the oil bill, the yet more tenners at the checkout for the supermarket bill.
Isn’t that their job, generating a little peace of mind? Isn’t it so easy giving unasked guidance to our rulers? Don’t we all do it?
Here’s a suggestion. Advise your flocks to say St John Newman’s (1801-1890) simple short prayer. The first line is “May the Lord support us all the day long.”
A fitting first line for the many members of their flocks facing a king’s ransom of energy bills they can’t afford.
The prayer is full of spiritual nourishment like this and does an outstanding job connecting us down here to our Maker ‘up there’.
The words are:
May the Lord support us all the day long;
Till the shadows lengthen and the evening comes;
And the busy world is hushed;
And the fever of life is over
And our work is done
Then in Thy mercy grant us safe lodgings;
Holy rest And peace at last.
Getting rid of Protocol could lead to hard border
Another informative article in The Irish News by historian Cormac Moore, author of Birth of the Border:The impact of Partition in Ireland.
The hard border was established in Ireland on April 1 1923, custom stations were set up along the border which reinforced the partition of Ireland. It was Collins and Griffith who pressurised Lloyd George into giving them this fiscal autonomy, because they wanted to assert their economic independence as well as their political independence.
Collins naively believed that the border commission would sort it all out but James Craig deceived him and Collins was dead anyway when it completed in 1924.
It is perhaps ironic that it was James Craig, the prime minister of Northern Ireland who called for the Free State to postpone for all time a customs barrier, claiming wisely that the free trade barrier would be responsible for partition.
Brexit, which the DUP and the ERG canvassed for, and the settlement with the EU, which included the Protocol agreed by the British government, is now under threat. Getting rid of the Protocol could lead to a hard border again in Ireland which ended in1993 with the removal of customs barriers.
Countryside devoid of policing cover
Recently a Munster landowner was offered a choice of a burial site in God’s acre by a gang of hunters trespassing on his land. As the media continues to report the state of lawlessness in rural Ireland a radical approach to countryside policing is needed.
This will involve realigning existing personnel and resources rather than the need for extra government expenditure. Namely switching the Irish Army to a rural policing role.
In rural Ireland crime operating under legal and illegal cover is rampant.
Criminals know that the countryside is devoid of immediate policing cover.
Meeting a banshee would rate higher than meeting a Garda patrol.
Having the army operating a rural policing role would add the iron hand needed to police rural Ireland.
It would give rural dwellers a sense of security and a belief that they live in a society that is actually policed regardless of your postal code.
How lethal must rural crime become before the rule of law is restored?
Failure to act on rural crime might one day result in a landowner being reduced to a listing in the local death notices aired on the local radio station.
Association of Hunt
Saboteurs, Dublin 1