the world, we in the United Kingdom enjoy tremen dous privileges. We have a standard of material wealth which far outstrips that of the people of most countries. And we enjoy liberties, both collectively and individ ually, which the majority of mankind can only dream of.
In recent years we have become acutely cOnscious that our material well-being is threatened. Unemployment has increased steeply: our currency has slumped in value: and the resources needed to tackle our social problems have dwindled. We all know this. Political parties, the Churches, the trade unions and other pressure groups constantly have these problems before them: they arc matters of lively public concern.
am not so sure that the threat to liberty is equally well appreciated. It is true that there has been a strong emphasis on civil rights, the rights of th individual and the protection of minority groups. That is to be welcomed.
But what about liberty in its widest sense — the liberty of society at, large to lead a life free from violence, free from blackmail. free from fear?
There will always be a problem of balance as be-, tween the rights of the individual and the collective rights of society. I believe that we can find that balance, proided we really know what is at stake. But what concerns me is the danger of complacency.
People in Great Britain know of the massive loss of liberty suffered by the population in Northern Ireland — of the intimidation, the gangsterism, the physical violence. But they tend to imagine that all this is due to the "special circumstances of Ireland" and reassure themselves that "it couldn't happen here".
Of course the same back, ground issues would not arise in Great Britain. But it is a grave error to imagine that other circumstances could not lead to a breakdown of established order and to the shattering of the peace cur-. rently enjoyed by most citizens.
The Northern Ireland situation has an importance Far beyond its own borders. Terrorism must not be allowed to win in one part of the United Kingdom. The liberty of the Ulster population must be re-established if the liberty of the nation as a whole is not be put in jeopardy.