Letter:A violent past

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The Independent Online
Fintan O'Toole misses one factor concerning gangsterism ("Ireland is discovering that gangsters are not so glamorous", 1 September): the attitude adopted by some politicians, clergymen, lawyers, judges, even newspaper columnists, over the last 70 years, towards the paramilitaries.

These commentators on Ireland's moral principles - of all persuasions, North and South - have consistently chosen to excuse (if not condone) the actions of the men of violence, on the grounds of a patriotism which is at best spurious. I suggest that a major cause of gangsterism, which Mr O'Toole so deplores, has been the ambivalent thinking, by these members of the establishment on both sides of the border, who, it seems, are willing to accept and defend one form of violence whilst at the same time rejecting, with crocodile tears, another. Mr O'Toole's proposition that "Irish society is learning to look" is only partially correct when the so-called guardians of public morals adopt such a two-faced attitude.

Mr O'Toole seems to suggest that events leading up to Veronica Guerin's awful murder are a recent phenomenon. The ideathat terrorists were, somehow, folk heroes has bedevilled the country for years and encourages common criminals to follow the same bloodstained example.

H D O'Grady

Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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