Wednesday 7 December 2016

Eilis O'Hanlon: SF children fall for fairy tales of North

Instead of challenging dangerous nonsense about romantic Ireland, Mary Lou encourages it

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 15/06/2014 | 02:30

LEGENDS OF THE FALLS ROAD: Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald is a passionately impressive politician but continues to peddle fantasies about the North. Photo: Tony Gavin
LEGENDS OF THE FALLS ROAD: Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald is a passionately impressive politician but continues to peddle fantasies about the North. Photo: Tony Gavin

Wikipedia is notorious for its errors, but the entry on Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald is particularly full of holes. It claims, for example, that Mary Lou was born in Dublin; that she went to Trinity College; and even that she was a member of Fianna Fail right up until the late Nineties – all of which is very odd, because when she went on Newstalk Breakfast last week to lambast those who "from the comfort of a perch far away from the streets of Belfast and Derry ... point the finger and preach at nationalist communities there and didn't lift a finger to intervene when they could", it would have been a natural conclusion of listeners unfamiliar with the history to presume that Ms McDonald was talking from personal experience. Otherwise where was this great moral authority to condemn outsiders who didn't understand the reality of the situation?

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Instead it seems that she was one of those pampered Southerners too, raised far from the crucible of conflict.

The truth is that there's no need for anyone to speculate about what they personally would or would not have done had they been born in Northern Ireland during that period, because thousands of people actually were and what they did in response to the situation is on public record. And for all that the North saw some of the most vicious sectarian strife in Europe since the end of the Second World War, most people behaved remarkably well in appalling circumstances. They worked hard. They brought up their children. They tried, as best they could, to live decent lives. These people were not perpetrators. The luckiest were horrified spectators. The unluckiest, victims. Their reward has been to be written out of history.

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