Just grievances long officially ignored, police misbehavior, left-wing infiltration of the civil-rights movement, Roman Catholic attitudes, and the Paisleyite capacity for inflaming passions—these factors contributed to the recent violence in Northern Ireland, according to a report released last month.
Charged to investigate the disturbances that began last October and the bodies concerned in them, a three-man commission with Scottish judge Lord Cameron as chairman crammed into four months and 124 pages what must be the most impartial account ever compiled of affairs in the troubled province.
As part of the background, the report saw “a widespread sense of political and social grievance for long unadmitted and therefore unredressed by successive Governments of Northern Ireland” with an impregnable political majority encouraging complacency and insensitivity to criticism. The “remarkable width” of police powers in Northern Ireland was seen to conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with a fundamental principle of English law.
The report states that the segregated education insisted on by Roman Catholics “plays its part in initiating and maintaining division and differences among the young.” It sees the emergence of a much larger Catholic middle class “less ready to acquiesce in the acceptance of a situation of assumed (or established) inferiority and discrimination.” Careful documentation clearly establishes the existence of such sectarian and political discrimination in various areas, involving housing allocation, local authority appointments, limitations on local electoral franchise, and deliberate manipulation of ward boundaries.
The commission recognizes ...1
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