To state that “Catholics were oppressed” in Northern Ireland, as Roy Fisher does in an otherwise commendable article (Comment, August 13, ‘Now we all belong to a minority community’), is like repeating the oft quoted statement of Craigavon “a Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people” without reference to what it was a response to: de Valera’s “Ireland is a Catholic nation” in defending legislation acceptable to “Catholics”.
Repeating the one without the other, as separatist nationalists were wont to, was a distortion of the past. Similarly to single out ‘Catholics’ as oppressed. The reality was NI was dominated by a pervasive defensiveness. In politics all discriminated in favour of their supporters. To have done otherwise was seen as tantamount to a community committing suicide. Discrimination was seen as of that defensiveness, not bigotry. It was not peculiar to NI. It was similarly seen as a defence of the faith and way of life as in 1957 in the schooling of children of a ‘mixed’ marriage (the children sent to a Protestant school) in the clerically organised Roman Catholic boycott of Protestants in Fethard-on-Sea, in the Republic.
W A Miller, Belfast