A couple of issues lately indicate very special treatment of Irish concerns. For instance, for some months now expensive colored advertisements have been appearing in such magazines as The Economist telling American businessmen how profitable and pleasant and safe it is to do business in Northern Ireland. "Views of Northern Ireland rarely seen in the media" is the heading, and the text talks about the good life in Northern Ireland.
Early in April, The Economist carried an eight-page advertising supplement from the Industrial Development Board of Northern Ireland. Belfast, it explained, is now a city with "crowded sidewalks, smart and booming stores, dozens of new restaurants, bars and discos." It is a "world away" from the deserted and semi-derelict streets of a decade ago. Returning exiles are "amazed." First-time visitors find it hard to reconcile this "cheerful, vibrant place" with their long-held image of a city in decline.
All this sounds like a success story, and we should be grateful for it and cheer on those who have accomplished this remarkable turnaround.
It may come as something of a surprise, however, to learn that this booming city . . . is being considered a recipient for American aid, specifically a quarter of a billion dollars over five years. The proposal related to the Anglo-Irish agreement of last November and to the pledge to promote development in those areas hardest hit by the violence and disruption of recent years.
That aim may be most worthy. But some eyebrows have been raised at the disbursing of foreign aid, essentially meant for underdeveloped countries, to an industrialized area that is part of the United Kingdom.