FR. BENTLEY writes (De cember 3) that "the question of separate Catholic and Protestant schools is quite irrelevant to the problems of Northern Ireland." It is one of the factors separating the two communities and surely any divisive factor is relevant.
When I read recently of a much wanted I.R.A. man holding a meeting in a school, under the noses of the military, I wondered what effect this would have on the children attending that school and what else was taught apart from religion, e.g. what view of history, etc.
A writer in the Financial Times recently described an I.R.A. funeral he attended in ti Catholic church 25 miles from Belfast. The young man. 21 years old. had blown himself up in planting a bomb in a pub regularly used by British soldiers. He was described in the funeral notices as a first lieutenant in the Lurgan Battalion of the I.R.A.
Five hundred people walked in the funeral procession from the dead man's home to the church headed by the coffin draped with the flag of the Irish Republic and followed by a guard of honour of schoolgirls in green uniforms followed by a troop of young men and boys. A boy of ten or eleven called out the marching orders as the procession made its way.
Here is the I.R.A. of the future being built up. and how far is the Church responsible for this? Three-quarters of the clergy apparently signed a petition to release internees, regardless apparently of the further bloodshed this would ca use.
What constructive steps is the Church taking in Northern Ireland and Eire to lead its members in ways of peace? Should not it be made plain that all those who subscribe money to the I.R.A. in street collections for the purchase of arms are aiding and abetting murders committed with them.
"By their fruits you shall know them." The fruits are very bitter at the present time, and I cannot help thinking that the Church in Ireland is failing in its job of teaching Christian charity.
F. A. Howard Worthing
AN official publication, just released, of the Northern Ireland Government Information Service, states: -Twothirds of the population of Northern Ireland . retain their British allegiance. The remaining one-third is descended from the earlier Gaelic or Celtic settlement in the country and hence conscious of the kinship with the Irish Republic."
The one-third will not wait 15 years, Something must be done to break the political logjam NOW. Fermanagh and Tyrone should be recognised as being part of the Republic of Ireland. These two poor counties. with their small population, have always had a Nationalist majority, and they +would never have been included in the six counties in the first place had it not been for Carson's illegal gun-running in 1914.
The four counties of Londonderry, Antrim. Down and Armagh should become a North-East Ireland Condominium, with a new flag which would he in two parts—three. quarters being the Union Jack, and the other quarter being the Tricolour.
There should be set up a Community Parliament, with some representatives from both Westminster and Dublin, to ensure non-discrimination, and end alienation by encouraging peaceful constitutional participation and community projects.
An immediate essential is effective financial aid from Britain to end the 10 per cent unemployment rate and hous• ing shortage. Catholic areas such as Ballymurphy have a rate of unemployment three times as high as the average rate for the six counties; 30 per cent unemployment is the breeding-ground for the evil of I.R.A. terrorism.
Unless something tangible is done NOW, then hideous urban warfare will continue, with our soldiers being killed for Stormont ultras.
The Fenians, the Invincibles. Carson's gun-runners, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the
I.R.A., the Provisionals . the self-appointed gunmen grow in the blood-fertilised soil of Ireland like perennial weeds, but we fail to extirpate the taproot of motivation which is social injustice.
Force has been tried down the centuries from Cromwell to the Black and Tans to Long Kesh. but as Mr. Wilson says we still have the consequent emotive bitterness. We need to isolate and end the I.R.A. with that lasting peace, which is not merely the sullen and smouldering result of Long Kesh, but the tranquillity of order based on justice.
John Ignatius Gaffney Crawley, Sussex.
I WOULD he grateful for a -alittle space to comment on some recent correspondence in your columns.
Mr. Cyril Myerscough states (December 3) "long-needed reforms had been wrested from Stormont" and as these were satisfactory to him they should be satisfactory also to the anti-Conservative and Unionist community in Northern Ireland.
The promised reforms were not sufficient to satisfy the affected community, and in any event Stormont and Westminster were much too slow. in implementing them and manoeuvres were well advanced to restrict their application and counteract their effect.
Mr. Myerscough--as well as every schoolboy — should know that the primary reason or the Irish Civil War of 50 years ago was the division of the country. This division was and could only he enforced by the British Government who
ensured that it gave a minority of the Irish people a permanent majority in one portion of the country. This portion consisted of six counties torn from the nation and even dismembering Ulster, the province of nine counties.
He describes the English as a subject people who absorbed their former enemies. it is worth noting, however, that whereas other peoples when they emigrated were prepared and content to be assimilated into the land of their adoption. nut so the Englishmen.
Wherever they settled they set about gaining wealth and power and conquering control for themselves. and their loyalties invariably lay outside their adopted lands. They and their descendants were never averse to using violence— physical or mental to further their ends.
Examples speak for themselves and include America, Canada. Kenya. Rhodesia, Australia, India, Ireland. etc. Power still. subjects Ireland to division and the will of a minority and this minority with outside so-called loyalties. Loyalties, indeed. Mr. Myerscough !
J. J. Morris Orpington, Kent,
R. Myerscough's letter of December 3 is a prize example of the sort of unChristian sniping he appears so anxious to deplore. It would therefore be pointles:3 to expose his inaccuracies. irrelevancies. and non-sceuiturs,
He is mistaken even about the authorship (plural, not singular of the 'Statement on Moral Questions." This suggests that he has read neither the statement nor my article with the kind of attention one reasonably expects from a critic.
Maybe there is no cure for historical and political naivety, but I recommend an essay by C. L. Mowat on "The 'Irish Question in British Politics." It's in a well-known collection edited by Professor Williams. I'm even prepared to suggest Further Reading next term for the more promising type of student.
Meantime, I'm suspending tutorials, and hope the Editor will encourage correspondents to display more wit and less aggression in the New Year.
(Fr.) Denis Egan Bend's Hall. Oxford.
I AM surprised at the number of people writing in your letters page who, armed with a very little knowledge of Irish history, condemn the violence and imply that Stormont could he persuaded to give the Ulster Irish a fair deaf.
There is more than enough evidence in the catalogue of incidents since August 196e to show that reasoned argument and appeals for justice make no mileage whatever in Ulster.
A particularly mean and vicious result of the Orange Mafia stranglehold was that the Protestant working class knew that the more prominent and active they were in clobbering the Catholics/Republicans, the more certain of holding and retaining privilege for jobs, houses and promotion.
I find it nauseating to hear Faulkner drooling on about "the democratic process" in his rotten borough which has never known anything resembling democracy. 1 he British press. with one or two notable exceptions, is trying to brainwash us into seeing the IRA man as a thug and killer, and the British soldier a hero.
A British Army that is prepared to uphold a Police State, intern hundreds on information supplied by a discredited police force, continually raid Catholic areas for arms, and do nothing about the 100,000 guns in Protestant hands, is to my mind. very far from being heroic. and to be likened to other armed forces upholding unjust regimes in Greece, Spain or South Africa.
Patrick Healy Horsham, Sussex.
ONE hears so couch these days about justice for minority groups that I feel it is high time that one very much maligned minority group got a mention. Support they do admittedly get at times, but so far as Catholic officialdom is concerned it seems to he qualified.
Here is some support that is from a lay Catholic and is in no way qualified. It is high time that some of the fog was cleared, minds were freely spoken and some of the cowardly and self-interested parties came down off the fence, The British Army in Northern Ireland is doing a job which I would not wish on my worst enemy and are doing it magnificently. I was one of them for many years and I am under no illusions as to how saintly some of them are. 1 had three years of the sort of thing they are called upon to do and I KNOW how they feel.
So far as the Church leaders are concerned, I for one am baffled. If in fact. as their pastoral letters suggest, our troops are so bad as to be put in the same category as the I.R.A., we seem to be going about the whole thing in a strange fashion.
I would recommend them to study the book written by W. Shirer on the Nazi methods of interrogation and suppression in the last war, if they want a yardstick for the use of mass terror and intimidation methods there is no better manual.
Why is the Army limiting itself so much as to he almost crippled? Where are the tanks, flamethrowers, rocket launchers and heavy machine guns. we might expect so brutal an army to use? Come off it, for heaven's sake, your lordships: this is not a Sunday school riot.
Canon Law is very specific when it conies to matters of how and when a war must be fought. One of the articles stresses that no more than the necessary amount of force needed to achieve the object in view must be used. This (oddly enough) is also one of the basic tenets of the Infantry Manual.
We all for most of the sane element) want an end to this whole murderous business. but let us first face the fact that there can and must not be any question of compromising with or giving way to the rabble who are responsible for so much misery. Equality before the law and equality of opportunity for all there must be.
It might be necessary to take steps which are unticoular with one or other of the parties, but this is inevitable. This cannot even be considered until the Army has suppressed terrorism and the whole of Northern Ireland unites itself to revile and exclude from its midst those who resort to the law of the jungle for their own ends, however they might be dressed up.
J. V. Smith Corby, Northants.