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Sunday 16 February 2014

   

Suicide rates reveal true legacy of Provo violence

Comparing the Troubles with 1916 is to ignore the different order of suffering, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Letter to the editor in response to this article:

Views on North are 'blinkered'

Madam – The article by Ruth Dudley Edwards (Sunday Independent, February 16, 2014) was typical of many she has written over the years. In her view of the world the conflict in the North was all the fault of republicans. And the legacy of that conflict is ours also.

She claims concern for the health of the citizens of west Belfast and of the levels of poverty and suicide they experience, and maybe she is concerned for them, but I see no similar concern for the people of Foyle which has higher levels of claimants on welfare, suffers from significant poor health outcomes and has higher levels of suicide than west Belfast. But then Foyle has been represented by the SDLP for longer than Sinn Fein has held the west Belfast constituency and she likes the SDLP.

Ms Edwards also ignores the reality of suicide as an issue for citizens across this island. Last September the annual report of the National Office for Suicide Prevention concluded that 495 people took their own lives in this State in 2010. Eighty per cent of these were men. A second report from the Suicide Support and Information System (SSIS) carried out over four years in Cork, found more than 40 per cent of victims had worked in the construction industry, and 13 per cent in agriculture.

Men accounted for 80 per cent of deaths – and factors pointed to were unemployment (39.3 per cent), drug abuse (29.4 per cent) and a history of self-harm (31.3 per cent).

There was no conflict in this State to account for the high level of suicide or the numbers of men taking their lives.

Perhaps if Ms Edwards took the time to look at the history of deprivation and ill-health in the North she might discover the very real connection that exists between the legacy of structured political and religious discrimination experienced by the nationalist community under decades of first unionist and then British rule. That's where the real problem lies and that is one more reason why we need to end the link with Britain and build a new Ireland that can realistically and effectively tackle these issues.

Gerry Adams TD,
Leinster House, Dublin

Ruth replies: "Gerry Adams accuses me of being partial. I can reassure him that I have as hearty a loathing of loyalist paramilitaries as I have of their republican equivalents."

Ruth Dudley Edwards

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