The British government divided Ireland into two parts in 1920 as a exotic experiment in maintaining a British interest on the Island of Ireland while separating religious factions, and hoping for reunification.
A large field in the south for Catholics was created and a much smaller field in the north for Protestants. The reconfiguration failed because the British government took an over-simplified view in hoping that everything would sort itself out eventually.
This postulate may be true in 500 years time, but it has been disastrous since division.
Northern Ireland was only supposed to be a temporary province pending reunification under the Government of Ireland Act, but the later idea of a free state in south in 1922 altered the original idea significantly.
The British government failed to address the needs of those not of the Protestant persuasion who were in the Northern box.
There are those who insist that this is still the case with derisory rights for Catholics in Northern Ireland.
Perhaps, the British government thought enough Catholics might eventually go south.
They might have hoped for a tacit understanding to that effect with no violence and there would be a united Ireland down the line when everybody got settled.
A high enough number to be a problem however did not go south and remained socially excluded.
It might seem insane but republicans should consider forgiving the British government on the Ireland question for the simple reason that Westminster wanted some kind of a united Ireland to happen too.
The decision to divide Ireland by the British government and not look after Catholic interests in Northern Ireland was a fatal mistake and one that is clearly evident with all kinds of investigations into police collusion against Catholics.
The British disenfranchised Northern Catholics, but could not see the consequences even though evident from 1969 on.
Because the British government failed, today they have the unenviable task of maintaining peace and order in Northern Ireland and the job of economically sustaining it as one of the most unproductive parts of what is left of their empire.
It is the price to be paid for short-sightedness.
The British government created the general conditions that led to the Troubles, notwithstanding individual acts of terrorism associated with it. The British government perhaps would be the first to admit that decolonisation in whole or part, is explosive stuff if you don’t get it right.
Maurice Fitzgerald, Co Cork