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Thatcher said -- look after others

Sir -- In writing of society's responsibility to those at risk of suicide Emer O'Kelly emphasises the role of individuals as well as families: "Deny it though we want to, we are society ... each pointless young death is an indictment of the world we've made." (Sunday Independent, August 28, 2011)

She then disparages Margaret Thatcher for having said there was no such thing as society -- but Mrs Thatcher was making exactly the same point as Ms O'Kelly.

In her famous 1987 interview she said "And who is society? There is no such thing. There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first; it is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business."

She later underscored her belief that society was not an abstraction, separate from the men and women who composed it, but a living structure of individuals, families, neighbours and voluntary associations.

Does Ms O'Kelly disagree?

Dr John Doherty,

Gaoth Dobhair, Co Donegal

Sunday Independent