In a remarkable book published some years ago, Canon Roger Lloyd makes an archdemon instruct subordinates on an ancient and effective piece of satanic strategy. “Insert yourself into the simple situations which call for plain and obvious duties,” urges this devil, “and complicate them, and complicate them again, until at last no one involved in them can make sense of the confusion.” Even the title of the volume is peculiarly relevant to Northern Ireland at present, for The Troubling of the City is surely the true theme of daily press reports on the continuing tragedy of Belfast and Londonderry.

What, I wonder, did my American friends make of the conflicting views on the Ulster situation presented to them in recent months by Bernadette Devlin and Ian Paisley? The fact that neither of the two is exactly inarticulate would ensure that at least the political complexity of the situation came across. The ensuing bewilderment may remind some of the woman who asked Dean Acheson to explain a diplomatic problem. He did. Thanking him warmly, she said, “I am still confused, but at a much higher level.”

Both the Catholic girl politician and the Protestant pastor claim to be acting in the name of their religion, but in their interpretation of that religion the one owes as little to Francis of Assisi as the other does to Kagawa of Japan. Both Irish protagonists revive a fallacious concept of the Holy War. “I want you to fill your pockets with stones and carry a petrol bomb in each hand,” was the song of Bernadette to Londonderry Catholics. At the same time Pastor Paisley was reportedly telling Protestants in Belfast: “We are at a state of war and I believe there should be no comfort or ...

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