Tuesday 25 July 2017

De Valera had an exceedingly difficult game to play, without the benefit of hindsight

THERE is a delightful quote in the recently published 'Behind the Green Curtain' (Gill and Macmillan), T Ryle Dwyer's excellent and probably definitive account of Irish neutrality during the Second World War.

"They wanted to appear as great loyalists, but in actual fact hoped that their suggestion would not be acceptable to the home (London) government. Had it been accepted, they intended to conscript the Catholics, and leave the Orangemen in their factories."

And this from the head of the RUC! Moreover, there were three main parties in the old Stormont in 1971. One was the Ulster Unionists, led by Brian Faulkner, a unionist old enough to have served in the Second World War, but didn't. There was the Democratic Unionist Party, led by Ian Paisley, a unionist old enough to have served in the Second World War, but didn't. And there was the Social Democratic and Labour Party, led by Gerry Fitt, a nationalist old enough to have served in the Second World War, and who did.

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