Ninety years ago today the then Minister for Justice, Kevin O'Higgins, was assassinated while walking to mass near his home at Booterstown, Co. Dublin. This was in revenge for the execution of four leaders of the irregulars on December 8, 1922 after their group had shot two deputies on their way to the Dail the previous day.
O'Higgins had told the Dail that it was the only way "representative government and democratic institutions" could be maintained.
As Kevin O'Higgins lay dying he referred to Eamon de Valera: "Tell my colleagues that they must beware of him; in future life he will play down to the weakness of the people".
The culture of violence in those years has been glorified in song and story in which we were all participants until some of us saw the light. It spawned thousands of needless deaths and injuries in this country and outside. The most glaring and tragic was in recent years, when a group calling itself the "Provisional IRA", and other equally sinister elements, engaged in a killing campaign for more than 30 years.
Unfortunately there is still an attitude prevalent in this country that their political outlook should be accepted by others who differ and the latter should be pressurised to do so. Though the number who believe that force is acceptable to achieve their aims is diminishing, it is still there.
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