Injustices which underpinned North's unionist regime in 1966 still exist

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Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster: the union is “special” and “precious” and more important than any other political cause. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster: the union is “special” and “precious” and more important than any other political cause. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga

In 1966, when fine people like brave Ivan Cooper, who has just died, were beginning to organise for the civil rights movement, the Sunday Times published an article which blew Northern Ireland wide open.

After years of agreed gentlemanly silences, the injustices which underpinned the unionist regime were laid out. Published shortly after a royal visit, the piece warned the British prime minister: “When the flags and bunting are hauled down . . . the government will still be confronted with a sharp alternative; whether to use reserve powers to bring elementary social justice to Ulster or simply allow Britain’s most isolated province to work out its own bizarre identity. During the 45 years since partition the latter has often been negligently adopted with what looks like disastrous results.”

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