By Patrick Brogan
Funny how history now views Nelson Mandela. Praised as a freedom fighter, but it was not always so. He was tried and convicted of sabotage and was to serve life in prison. The white South Africans called him a terrorist. A devil incarnate. History has decided they were wrong. In Ireland, 11 Dunnes Stores workers protested against that shop due to it selling South African goods during the apartheid era. This went on for nearly three years and eventually Ireland banned South African goods.
Ireland, in its own way had dealt a blow to that unfair system that segregated black and white, with the minority whites having a high standard of living at the expense of their black neighbours. Just a few miles up the road, something similar was happening in Ulster, not all of it, just the part Unionists had a majority in. Regardless of your views on Nationalism or Republicanism, the situation there was grossly unfair on the green side of the community. This goes right back to the Plantation of Ulster in the early 17th Century through to Northern Ireland’s first Prime Minister James Craig who boasted of Stormont being a Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people. No room for those bloody Catholics here.
If a state is set-up in such an unfair and discriminatory manner there will be a backlash for those suffering under the yoke. In South Africa, it was Nelson Mandela and the ANC. In Northern Ireland, it was Gerry Adams and the IRA. While they are not exactly the same, they have more in common then they do differences, even if the media in this country is loath to admit it. They have their agenda of course and this mainly focuses on money rather than reporting on what is actually happening.
I would never condone the murder of innocent people. I watched on with horror like everyone else when the lives of innocent people and unborn children were taken in the Omagh bombing and other atrocities. Anyone involved in those acts should suffer the full weight of the law, such as it is. Gerry Adams included.
If you feel strongly about any perceived role Gerry Adams had in murder, the Disappeared comes to mind, you must also feel strongly about his role in ending the cycle of sectarian murders, too. People may scoff but it is no exaggeration to say that he made the lives of people on the island that much better. Down South, we may look at this as a solely a Northern issue. The people of Dublin and Monaghan can testify otherwise.
Without a Good Friday Agreement would Ireland, as an island, have been as prosperous? Ireland is hugely depended on foreign investment and it is unlikely large North American companies would have invested in the way they did here without peace on the island. What happens next for Sinn Féin we will have to wait and see. Maybe the historical baggage Adams will take with him will be a good thing. Will he ever get the recognition he deserves for it? Not likely to be anytime soon.
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