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News Letter, Monday, 18th April 1966
Good Sense Prevails

Monday, 18th April 1966

Belfast’s day of tension has passed off without any major clash if not entirely without incident. That it has done so is due in no small measure to the precautions taken by the Government and, above all, to the way in which those were carried out by the police. The members of the RUC have no easy task even in normal times; on occasions when the peace of the community is threatened, as it was yesterday, it becomes not only difficult, but also delicate. The firmness, good humour and, above all, the fairness with which the police acted all helped to keep the pot from boiling over, and for this every member of the community who values the better feeling which has developed in recent years owes them a deep debt of gratitude. It would not be out of place at the same time if the city allowed itself some self congratulation. By refusing to be stampeded into a reversion to uglier days, the citizens showed a maturity of outlook and a spirit of tolerance that augurs well for the future of Belfast and Northern Ireland.

The breaking of the British link would mean for everyone here a reduction in his standard of living...


President de Valera in his speech at the closing Easter Rising ceremony in Dublin, indulged in an over simplification of the problem of partition which, although it came naturally on such an occasion, ignored too much to be regarded as a serious contribution to the controversy. Not much remained, he said, to bring about the reunification of the country. All that was necessary was that the powers retained in the British Parliament should be transferred to a representative all Irish Parliament, leaving Stormont the local autonomy it enjoys at present. If that is all that remains, it is also all that the division of Ireland has ever been about. The question is one of loyalties and the President and Mr Lemass and the other political leaders in the South ought to appreciate by this time how firm are the ties which bind the Ulsterman to Britain. These are based not merely on material benefits, although they also are involved but on sentiment and devotion to ideals. They are not the ideals of nationhood so much has been heard of in patriotic speeches made in the Republic during the past week, and while the mood of the progressive Unionism represented by Captain O’Neill is one of readiness to have friendly relations with Southern neighbours and to co-operate where this is possible, it is no less solid on the constitutional position than was that of the founding fathers of Northern Ireland.

But Mr de Valera not only ignored sentiment; he also ignored some hard, material facts of life, which affect the minority in the North as well as the majority. The breaking of the British link would mean for everyone here a reduction in his standard of living, particularly among those who depend most on the benefit of the welfare state. If the unity of Ireland makes no sense to people whose loyalty is to Britain, it does not make much either, if the truth were told, to a Nationalist with higher family allowances and better health and unemployment benefits than he would enjoy in a Republic. Lloyd George said of negotiating with Mr de Valera, ‘You go up and up and down and down and round and round, but you never catch up with the horse in front.’ How does the President propose to catch up with the British horse?

News Letter,
Monday, 18th April 1966
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