luni, 16 noiembrie 2015

The story of Ireland, BBC documentary

The Great Famine of 1845-1850

"As the crisis developed, attitudes in London became less sympathetic. There is more exasperation and in certain quarters, actually hostility and frustration, and a sense that the Irish are not grateful, that they must do more to help themselves. By June 1846 there was a new Whig government lead by Lord John Russell. The Whigs believed in the prevailing doctrine of laissez faire minimal state intervention. Saving the starving was not the governments job, but that of local landlords and of charities. And so, as the crisis deepened, government support for public works was removed. Some landlords were generous and were bankrupted by the cost of relief, others had no inclination to help and evicted the starving. Priests were heavily involved in helping the people. In Clare, one reported how half of his one thousand parishioners were dead. Scores were thrown beside the nearest ditch, he wrote, and left to the mercy of dogs which had nothing to feed on. Food prices soared, far beyond the wages of those still employed on public works and government soup kitchens were closed after being opened for just six months. Famine diseases like typhoid cholera swapped through the population."

"There has been famine, revolution, and civil war. But in an age of uncertainty we can surely draw strength from the memory of what has been overcome. The story of Ireland has always been a narrative of change, unpredictable and dynamic. The past is no longer a melancholic burden or a reason to hate. We're never entirely free of the claims of history, but neither are we its prisoners. Ireland today is an island of possibility, an open island."

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