Wednesday 1 March 2017

Provos' murder campaign copper-fastened partition

Sinn Fein TD's claim that North is an apartheid state fails to examine the party's own divisive legacy

Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth Dudley Edwards

Sinn Fein's Padraig MacLochlainn
Sinn Fein's Padraig MacLochlainn

Last week I was inspired by various instances of self-delusion, belligerence and lies at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis to write about the reality of what the Provos did to Northern Ireland. After an interesting week of public abuse and private and public support, I thought I'd return to some unfinished business – Padraig MacLochlainn's remark about the "apartheid state" he claimed Northern Ireland was in 1969, when the IRA returned to the gun.

I've met MacLochlainn and he isn't thick, so there's no excuse for ludicrous comparisons between the treatment of Northern Ireland Catholics and South African non-whites. Hey, Padraig, here are a few facts. From 1948, when they embarked on that filthy policy, the South African national government introduced a raft of legislation to enforce segregation, which included prohibition of marriage between whites and other races and of extra-marital sex between black and white, the creation of different residential areas for different races, compulsory segregation in all public spaces, the requirement for blacks always to carry a pass listing e.g. tax payments and encounters with police, and to obtain a permit to move from a rural to an urban area. Oh, and non-whites couldn't vote.

Nor is there any comparison with racial segregation in America. Unlike Rosa Parks, whom he claimed as a role model, Gerry Adams didn't have to ride at the back of buses. Everyone was equal under the law. As in the south, where we had an imperfect record in dealing with non-Catholics, there was indeed some discrimination, but it was at local and individual level and it certainly didn't remotely compare with what women had to put up with at the time. Even in England, to which I emigrated at 21, I was refused jobs because of my gender. I didn't, however, reach for an AK47.

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