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Ireland did not live under 800 years of British oppression

Letters from people like Tom Cooper (Letters, December 19) are dangerous, as they can feed the fantasies of those who like to justify the terrorism of the IRA, they must be challenged.

If he really thinks we lived under 800 years of oppression, he needs to read about life for a peasant in Tsarist Russia, a Jew in Eastern Europe or an African in the Belgian Congo and then he might have a better understanding of what oppression is. Life in Ireland was hard but no worse or better than it was for lots of people all over the world. Irish people had the same rights as their British equivalent.

He mentions Irish Catholics being denied the vote and of course by that he means rich land owning Irish men. But the Act removing the vote from Catholics was passed in 1728 in an Irish Parliament by Irishmen against other Irishmen and it was repealed in 1829 by Westminster.

The point about 1916 is that in 1914 the Westminster Parliament passed legislation providing for Home Rule on the entire island of Ireland as one political unit.

It simply does not stand up to historical scrutiny that having passed legislation, in the face of such bitter opposition including the Curragh Mutiny incident, that a UK government would not then implement it.

Mr Cooper should know that Irish Home Rule wasn’t the only Act put on hold. Pretty much all of normal life across Europe was put on hold. So forgive me if I don’t pander to the myth that the Irish were so special that our piddling needs should have attracted more attention from a country facing the horrific realisation that, rightly or wrongly, it was sending an entire generation of its youth to their death.

It’s not hard to see how why after the war, there was such bitterness from the British and Unionists to the Irish dilatants, who were themselves too cowardly to fight in a real war, but who thought nothing of knifing their fellow Irishmen in the back and for what?

The reality is that the 1916 Rising, and the people involved in it, are directly to blame for the one thing it was meant to prevent, the permanent partition of the island.

1916 led to the end of liberal constitutional democracy in Ireland in 1918, it then led to a war and to a civil war, it led to a political system that allowed decades of abuse to be inflicted on the most vulnerable in society, decades of emigration, lives lost to economic stagnation, cronyism, corruption and a casual acceptance of public squalor.

Desmond FitzGerald

Canary Wharf




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