Letter: Marching against civil rights

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The Independent Online
Sir: Miles Kington, in his column of 8 July, refers to the indifference of Republic of Ireland citizens to "wanting back" Northern Ireland. As a citizen of the Republic I could confirm such sentiments.

I was brought up in southern Ireland in the early 1970s when the Troubles were at their most intense. I have vivid memories of my father, a breakfast news glutton, listening to his "wireless": strident, indignant voices from the North would pour out their well-rehearsed grievances. After ten minutes of this my father, nonchalantly switching off the set, would mutter, "There's no news", returning to his boiled egg.

In a recent discussion with a historian I cited the fact that a nationalist party (Aointeacht Eireann or United Ireland) formed in the early 1970s in response to the Troubles, not alone failed to have any of their candidates elected, but all of them lost their deposits (not an inconsiderable feat under a PR electoral system).

"Ah," responded my historian friend, "you overlook the role of Fianna Fail (the mainstream nationalist party in the South) in accommodating Southern Irish citizens' grave concern over the North."

My father was the local Fianna Fail MP.

THOMAS F MAHER

London SW6

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