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South accepted apartheid in NI

Madam –Eoghan Harris's article (Sunday Independent April 14, 2013), reflecting on the reaction to Margaret Thatcher's death was thought provoking and it made me consider the troubles in the North.

Mister Harris's rebuke of Gerry Adams' comments was well warranted. Gerry Adams accusing Margaret Thatcher of prolonging the war and causing great suffering is as hypocritical as it gets. Adams' addiction to blaming most of his people's woes on the British Government is just nonsense. He, like most Irish people, need to look a lot closer to home when reflecting on the troubles in the North.

From 1922 through to 1969 we in the Republic stood idly by while Catholics were increasingly discriminated against in the North making the thirty years of the troubles inevitable. During these years there was some political posturing but nothing concrete from our state to relieve the oppression Catholics were suffering in the North. Why were our people not encouraged to at least protest on the streets of Ireland or England against the oppression that was rampant in one part of our country? It was not as if our State was unaware of the power of civil rights marches as they occurred in the United States from 1955 through to 1968 which culminated in the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which banned discrimination in the sale or renting of housing. Would the British government not have acquiesced and given Catholics those rights in Northern Ireland if our Government had put them under sufficient pressure in earlier years.

Sadly it was left to the downtrodden Catholics in the North to organise the civil rights protests which then led to the Troubles. In the end our indifference in a lot of ways led to a needless bitter war that caused thousands of people to lose their lives.

When the debris was cleared from the War of Independence and the Civil War, we accepted a near apartheid system in the North for the next 60 years. Was this the Ireland envisaged by Collins, Connolly and Pearse, et al, before they died, I do not think so.

It is time that Gerry Adams, our politicians and our people reflected on this.

Gary O'Connor,

Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

Irish Independent