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Tolerance was the order of 1979

Sir -- Ronan Fanning's forensic article on the August bank holiday of 1979 (Sunday Independent, January 3) brought back memories of that double whammy of IRA murders -- Lord Mountbatten in the Republic and 18 soldiers in a roadside bombing at Warrenpoint, Co Down, on the same day.

Working in a London pub on the Fulham Road, I remember the hush that followed the news before Sunday closing time on August 27. Sean Tracey, the genial publican who had run it for years, shook his head in disbelief.

The regulars seemed to slink away -- shocked at this new barbarity from Ireland -- and we were ashamed to be Irish on such a day.

When we closed up, Sean confided his fears for the following days.

What if bricks were thrown through the pub windows?

What if the regulars decided yo boycott the place?

What if the other staff members decided not to turn up on Tuesday after the bank holiday?

There must have been hundreds of Irish pub-owners and businesspeople throughout the UK worried about the effects of such a devastating atrocity on their livelihoods -- and even on their own safety.

Tuesday morning came and, upon opening time, Laurie Lee, author of Cider with Rosie, walked in.

He was soon followed by the other regulars, who were more interested in nursing hangovers than grudges against hard-working Irish people.

The Cockney chef strolled in late and disappeared into the kitchen. In the evening the Chelsea Arts lot filled the saloon bar, as was their wont.

It was, as they say, business as usual.

For me it was a lesson in tolerance and also the fact that people can discriminate between those evil-minded individuals who wished to cause mayhem and other people who simply wanted to get on with their lives.

These terrible murders did not incite the English against the Irish or tear Londoners apart.

Ordinary people would not allow chaos on the streets that August of 1979.

Bernard O'Grady,

Muswell Hill,

London

Sunday Independent