Page 6, 28th January 1977

28th January 1977
Page 6
Page 6, 28th January 1977 — Britain's role
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Locations: Manchester, Derry

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Britain's role

in Ireland

As reported in the Catholic Herald of January 14, Bishop Cahal Daly has written a full. charit.51e and largely convincing assessment of the present position in Northern Ireland.

May I try to answer his question: "Why does Britain not try to do something?" • It seems to me that at "grassroots" level the average Englishman is simply not interested except to express the opinion that "we should bring our troops home and let them fight it out among themselves," My impression is that they would not weep 'over-much at this prospect — perhaps as a kind of revenge for those British soldiers killed in Northern Ireland over the years.

If it be largely true that a government will do little on any issue until pressure is exerted, I see little "grass-roots" pressure coming from "this side of the water". Where, then, can pressure come from? It must come mainly from Northern Ireland itself, But with the fixed attitude of Protestant / Catholic, of which the denominations should be the last to complain, we can see the difficulties. What are the options? I. A United Ireland? It would be very difficult — apart from the emotive power of flags and mythology — to form a uniform state-ethic for the united country. The word Christian, in itself, will not do: there are too many interpretations of that word to apply it in such spheres as contraception and mixed marriages, etc.

Much as I would personally like to see this goal attained, I ask: "Would the South be prepared to re-enter (what is left of) the British Commonwealth for the sake of closer ties or union with the Northern Protestant and would the Catholic politician fight for Protestant liberty of conscience?

2. The "Peace People" seem to suggest that there is a new "ethnic" man, now called an Ulsterman, irrespective of religious affiliation. Would such an ideal, even if not a final one, be worth striving for?

These are the only two political options I can see — apart from the present stalemate. But if the goal be simply peace and justice in Northern Ireland as "part or the British mainland, it is up to the politicians in Northern Ireland to strive to see that industry is spread evenly over the various "areas" as the Bishop points out,

I take issue with Bishop Daly on one point: "War is an ugly and brutalising business". Does he apply this to all war? Here is where the weakness of the Churches is. If the Churches say that the violence of the IRA and the UVF is to be condemned they will have to show these bodies why their violence is to be condemned and not the violence of all soldiery.

If the attempt is made to put up a "just war" code of conduct, I would say that if the belligerents are capable of observing that, they would be capable of working out a peaceful solution without any resort We know how long the "just war" code of fighting lasted in the 1939-45 war. The Churches must put their own house in order on this matter before they presume to speak to their fellow men.

(Rev) Harold Johnson St Andrew's Vicarage, Eccles, Manchester.

I am at a loss to understand the ponderously serious response evoked in some of your readers by Cardinal Hume's statement to the effect that peace must come before Justice in Northern Ireland. Why should the cardinal's political views merit more credence than those of any other mortal?

Surely, trust in the divine wisdom of the Creator, and the intrinsic goodness of His greatest creation, man, must predispose the belief that justice will prevail and peace must ensue — however long it takes. Thcrc was peace for many bitter, unjust years. However, the most charitable view which even we Irish, in our notorious resilience and sense of humour. must take is that the Cardinal has his politics and theology in a twist; but he is not the first incumbent of the diocese of Westminster to find himself in such straits.

Some of your readers may recall the amazing claim of Cardinal Vaughan that "God created the British Empire for His own special purpose!"

J. P. Smithson Romford, Essex.

As far as the men of violence are concerned — the extremists among the Anglo-Scottish-Irish, and the extremists among the native Irish the overriding and imperative need is For them to stop the evil of their callous, indiscriminate, internicine, counter-productive killings.

They should end their violence immediately and redirect their energies to striving for justice constitutionally.

As far as the rest of us are concerned — the people of goodwill who want true peace — we should listen to the appeal of Bishop Cabal Daly of Ardagh, and Bishop Edward Daly of Derry, and seek the peace which is the fruit of anxious daily care for justice.

As a start we might try to reac tivate the constitutionally agreed Tripartite Sunningdale Agreement, which was aborted by an unconstitutional strike. The Army should strengthen its electrical and mechanical engineers section, so that it is in a position to enforce a reactivated Sunningdale.

If the ultra-Unionists are so "Ian Smithish" that they refuse to agree with realistic power-sharing, then perhaps the only solution would be for a self-determination plebiscite in the 26 local government districts.

Then those districts who want to be united with the United Kingdom would be free to do so, and those districts which wish to become part of the Irish Republic, but have down the centuries been forced by Anglo-Scottish violence into being British colonies, should be granted their independence.

It is not enough to desire peace.

If we 'want ends, we must will means. And the means are concurrently an end to all violence or support for violence active or tacit, and as Bishop Cahal Daly says, an immediate end to the present political vacuum. John Ignatius Gaffney Crawley, Sussex.

In the first decade of the century. my two sisters and I often soulfully sang a song beloved in our family, the final verse of which ran: Erin thy silent tear never shall cease, Erin thy langmid smile, ne'er shall increase Till, like the rainbow bright, Thy various tints smite, And form In Heaven's sight One arch of peace.

Hopefully, we might deem the Peace Movement a tentative effort towards the "peace in Heaven's sight" undoubtedly desired by our Cardinal for which we all might pray along with him. Bernard Doherty Sheffield




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