NORTHERN IRELAND: Captive of History by Gary MacEoin

NORTHERN IRELAND: Captive of History

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KIRKUS REVIEW

MacEoin, Irish born writer on Latin American affairs, has produced the best book to date on embattled Northern Ireland. ""The moral, social and cultural values of an Irish Catholic and a Northern Ireland Protestant are indistinguishable,"" says the author -- a fact which underscores the tragic irony of the war. Catholics and Protestants are the victims of competing mythical versions of history; both have suffered ""negative leadership"" at least since 1916. Both sectors are trapped in the toils of a religious ""Establishment"" equally fundamentalist and bigoted. The ""cryptotheocracy"" of the South is ""what makes the Republic so repulsive to northerners,"" just as the legends of King Billy and the Williamite Settlement frighten the Catholic minority. MacEoin doesn't despair of an eventual solution but it requires ""the introduction of new factors"" from the outside. As a first step he proposes UN troops to patrol Belfast and Derry because ""Britain is hopelessly mistaken when it assumes that it can perform the function of honest broker."" Second, he trounces the ""neocolonialism"" of the Irish Republic vis-a-vis England, an exaggerated economic dependency which has for decades attenuated Dublin's commitment to a united Ireland. Throughout, MacEoin makes it clear that ""structures"" -- economic, political, religious -- not individuals are responsible for the current siege mentality and that more than good will is needed to erase the battle scars. A tough, clear-sighted analysis; but is anyone listening?

Pub Date: June 6th, 1974
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston