May I remind Mrs. Elizabeth Payne (January 7) that there was a period of fifty years of peace of a kind in Northern Ireland during which time the Unionist Party held office. They were paid by the British government, and provided with all the outward trappings of
democracy at the expense of the British taxpayer. It should
be no surprise to anyone, even the English, that due to the injustices to the Catholics of
Northern Ireland under this regime, the explosion of eight years ago took place.
Mrs Payne admits that she is not clear on the this subject of injustice in Northern Ireland, and perhaps this is indicative of the prevailing ignorance of English people concerning events in Ireland.
Maybe the media failed to report events fully, or it could be that Mrs Payne, like so many others, had no interest in what was being done in Northern Ireland in her name, until the violence came to England. English politicians have recently referred quite openly to what they call the acceptable level of violence and death in Northern Ireland. Why should they accept any level of violence in Ireland. but not in England?
On the question of injustice, would Mrs Payne accept that it is
just to deprive whole sections of the Northern Ireland Catholics from having a vote, as happened, or for allowing them such a small
parliamentary representation for such large numbers as had the vote?
Discrimination in housing and jobs was well known. Was this justice, and should the Catholic minority have continued to accept this state of affairs without complaint? To whom could they complain?
All this was done in the name of democracy by a puppet government provided by Westminster. Westminster's failure to act was no less than institutional violence on their part.
Hitler offered Chamberlain peace in 1938 and Chamberlain, the
typical politician. found it ex pedient to accept the offer. Can you imagine the feelings of those people
in the occupied countries of Europe? Was that the kind of peace they were longing for?
1 hope Mrs Payne is not suggesting a return to the "peace" in Northern Ireland that prevailed from 1922 to 1968. The mess in Northern Ireland is a direct result of British policy in that part of Ireland. Peace rallies, no matter how sincere, are only a cry from the tormented people and can in no way be a remedy for the inaction and apparent indifference of the Westminster government. Political action must restore justice; the politicians have the authority to act and the responsibily is theirs alone.
The English people seem to be particularly insensitive when it comes to the problems which they have created in Ireland. How would they like to see foreign soldiers, armed to the teeth, running around English towns; or English people being slung into prison in their own
country by a foreign power? From my own experience in the Forces I know their reaction would be instant and violent, and they certainly would not sit down to talk peace with the invader.
Justice must come first and peace will follow when the cause of violence is removed, and this peace will he preserved if justice is maintained. I know it must be hard for the English to hand back the remaining land, part of a theft which took place 300 years ago, and for which I do not blame the present day Englishman if he is prepared to show goodwill to his neighbours and allow them to live in peace. Name and address supplied
When I read that Cardinal Basil Flume had said that peace in Northern Ireland should
come before justice I assumed that he had used the word
'peace' as meaning an end to violence. He had used it in the context of the Peace Rally at
Trafalgar Square where this was the meaning generally understood.
Neither he nor anyone else there argued that the rightful struggle of the minority should be ended, as your correspondent, Miss Westcott (December 31) suggests. Shc does not seem to have learnt the lessons of the last seven years.
Before the IRA violence in tervened, the Civil Rights movement, with the co-operation of a comparatively liberal Stormont government, had made some real progress — too much for the extreme Protestant stomach.
The best friend that the demon of injustice has in that country is violence and the threat of violence,
in other words — fear. No sooner had the loyalist's threat against the Derry Catholics manoeuvred the
Army into Northern Ireland than the Provisional IRA began its cam puign and has effectively prevented any further progress towards a more just arrangement. Miss Westcott's criticism of what she regards as Cardinal Hume's un awareness of the situation in
Northern Ireland is blunted by her own assumption of knowledge about the situations in Chile, Russia, South Africa and Rhodesia. These are all different from each other, and none of them bear much similarity to that in Ireland.
In Rhodesia, where the injustice is most obvious a tiny minority are
exploiting a large majority. The dis parity between the standards of living of the white and black com
munities are so great that it is like
comparing Miami with the shanty areas of Rio. In the north of Ireland
there is injustice, but it is a majority over a minority and the difference though real and significant does not justify death and maiming physical and mental.
Those of us, who like Miss Westcott, view Northern Ireland from the comparatively safer areas of England ought to be inhibited from advocating the continuation of ac
tivity which results in other people and other people's children getting killed. I accept Joan Baez's simple motive for her support of the Peace Movement. She had heard of these women who were protesting about children being killed in the violence. That is all that is needed for anyone with compassion to decide that the price is too much.
Children are being killed, sometimes by the IRA, sometimes by protestant extremists, sometimes by the Army, but always the responsibility is that of those men who believe in violence as a political tool. Anyone who by actions, or passivity abets them has to accept some of the responsibility for the deaths and injuries which the children of the province suffer.
If I were a second class citizen in my own country through no fault of mine I would have a burning anger and I cannot answer for how it would find its outlet, but I hope that even in my anger I would realise that I had no right to condemn anyone to death. I hope that i would be able to see that the self-styled protectors feed not on the defeat of the enemies of the exploited, but on the misfortune of the people they claim to protect. Every time a Catholic is killed the IRA is stronger and each killing by the IRA provokes that Catholic death— and the IRA know it.
I have no experience of violence such as that in Northern Ireland, but whenever I have witnessed a brutal act it has shocked me profoundly because of that lack of experience, and I thank God that it is so. I wish the people of Northern Ireland some of that lack of experience in some new year in the future. The hardened heart is the real source of evil.
Richard Green New Barnet, Hertfordshire.