Decade of remembrance, reconciliation or renewal?

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Here’s something we’ve been poor at talking about so far. Last year was the first of a decade of significant centenaries in Irish history.

The first of them, the signing of the Convenant actually passed without a great deal of comment, or any serious revisiting of its meaning in contemporary society.

On on level the dearth of public comment and/or debate might be seen as a good thing. But in fact treating these momentous events as so many notches on the bedpost are we missing an opportunity?

As Ian Parsley notes:

…neither jurisdiction in Ireland is recognisable from those established on the back of events we are commemorating during the “Decade of Centenaries”. Suggesting they are – by treating the events of 1912 and 1916 without reference to the misjudgements made at the time and the hurt caused since – is dangerous.

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  • Fortlands

    See my book of interviews on same ‘Whose Past Is It Anyway?’ Views on decade of centenaries from Ian Paisley Jr (‘Pearse was a lunatic’), Enda Kenny, Mary Lou McDonald, Roddy Doyle etc etc. Surprising number of contributors express willingness to ponder the meaning of the centenaries for today.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Actually I think the decade of half Centenaries ….events from the 1960s and early 1970s is much more significant than the Centenaries.
    As the Covenant showed the attempted inclusive narrative was completely undermined by the reality on the streets.
    If the first year of the Decade was 2012, then it was a failure nd a bd omen for2016 and all that.
    Rather than being something we are poor at talking about ..it is something that has dominated discourse for years.
    we talk about little else.
    What we have been extremely poor at dealing with…is accepting the narrative presented to us

  • keano10

    Ian Parsley has had more political faces than The Albert Clock so I’ll respectfully take The Fifth regarding any historical “insights” on his behalf…

  • sherdy

    Fort – Ian Og would have plenty of experience in the lunatics department.

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Keano10

    I’ve had precisely the same number as Churchill, Hain, Woodward, Foster, Donaldson and McCrea.

    That you fail even to engage in the debate says rather more about you than it does about me.

    Don’t run away and hide. Tell me what, precisely, is wrong with my analysis?

  • 6crealist

    IJP

    incorrect.

    Take Churchill, for example. He was a Conservative, then a Liberal, then a Conservative. That’s three faces.

    You were a Conservative, then an Alliance, then a UCUNF (or just a Conservative?), then an Alliance. That’s four faces, and counting.

  • son of sam

    Good to seeJude(aka Fortlands) dipping the toe into Slugger.F J H has of course been a contributor for years.It is good that there is this cross fertilisation of bloggers,so to speak.

  • Gopher

    Can’t really speak for anyone else but the 1912 centenary really did not resonate with me very much probably because the event feels to me personally was so “natural” in the evolution of Ireland. I am well aware of the history and many of the personalities were incredibly interesting but I get the feeling that the centenary of 1914 and the guns of August will focus my mind on identity more than anything that can be cobbled together insularly and locally about 1912. I also feel the 1st of July 1916 will be felt deeper than covenant day and resonate wider despite the vain effort of interest groups to claim that feeling for themselves. I hope the 1st of July 1916 centenary is kept a civic event like I imagine the the centenary of Armistice day will be.

  • mollymooly

    According to Wikipedia, Brian Cowen as Taoiseach said “We believe that mutual respect should be central to all commemorative events and that historical accuracy should be paramount.” Not sure those are compatible.

  • Alias

    It’s interesting to observe this new Northern Irish nation being engineered – mainly because I had the naive view that loyalty to a nation was akin in emotional bonds to loyalty to parents.

    But to engineer it required the careful deconstruction of what went before it: the Orange and the Green. The former Irish nation in Northern Ireland is now decimated to the point where only 25% of the population self-identify as belonging to it. The Orange – more a culture than a nation – is likewise banished to the backwoods from the mainstream.

    It was always the dysfunctional flaw in creation of the Northern Ireland that it came into existence as a territory with a right to self-determination before a nation with a right to self-determination came into existence. In all other cases, the nation exists before the state – and it is always the nation, never the state, which holds the right to self-determination under international law (specifically Article 1 of the ICCPR).

    This left the British state in the position of having to retrospectively invent the missing Northern Irish nation in order to create some form of internationally recognised political normalcy to its abnormal creation.

    It took the British state circa 50 years to come to terms with that task but no one can now deny that the Northern Irish nation has been successfully engineered and that its numbers are increasing dramatically.

    It’s a bit dubious, of course, for a state to engage in the process of systematically destroying an existing nation in order to engineer a new nation given that the role of the state under international law is to nurture and protect the nation it is elected to govern, and not to stealthily eradicate it. But as the Northern Irish nation is being engineered by the British state within its sovereign territory its debatable whether it has any such obligation to foreign nations within it. As long as it does this stealthily, it is unlikely it will get the blame for the prerequisite destruction of the Irish nation within its territory given that figure of 25% can be blamed on a faulty census or a sectarian murder campaign by state-sponsored gangs or on the same ‘progress’ that it driving the eradication of Orange culture from the ‘modern’ Northern Ireland.

    At any rate, the new Northern Irish nation is now fully emergent and the British state now fully consolidated in that part of Her Majesty’s dominions.

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Alias

    Er, what?

    Notwithstanding my own challenge/deconstruction of events surrounding the Covenant in public comment last year, the Covenant did indisputably demonstrate the existence of a British “nation” on the island of Ireland.

    That nation had the right to self-determination, just like the contemporary Basques, Catalans, Scots and others Irish Nationalists like to support.

    Of course, 1998 brought us closer to the reality that we have one “Irish” State on the island, and one shared by both “Irish” and “British”. This is the most obvious solution, but one rejected both by “Nationalists” (who for some reason want to force everyone into a State founded by and for exclusively the “Irish” nation) and by “Unionists” (who still want to deny reality and pretend that Northern Ireland is exclusively “British” even when more than half its population does not identify as such).

    Of course, the terms “Irish” and “British” are not entirely helpful – I have previously argued that perhaps “Irish-Gaelic” and “Anglo-Scottish” would be closer, but even they’re far from perfect.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I thought last year went quite well, a few big events mainly for a traditional Unionist base, but also attended quite a few lower key discussions & talks, with different view points. The controversies round flegs & sloop John B were not directly connected so I can’t see the omens FJH talks off.

    WW1 centenary will of course be a UK wide commeration, primarily marking the start and end I would imagine, and a few battles such as the Somme, even if close on the heels of Easter 2016 I don’t imagine anyone want confrontation.

  • Alias

    “Notwithstanding my own challenge/deconstruction of events surrounding the Covenant in public comment last year, the Covenant did indisputably demonstrate the existence of a British “nation” on the island of Ireland.”

    It did no such thing. In fact, it avoids all mention of a British nation – or any nation for that matter but leans closest to identifying an ‘Ulster’ nation.

    If you are arguing that they are British because they declared a preference in the document to be governed by the United Kingdom then that criteria also converts into members of the British nation any Irish in that region who hold the same preference. I think you will find a lot of them (and it is a majority of the Catholics) will dispute the validity of that argument.

    “That nation had the right to self-determination, just like the contemporary Basques, Catalans, Scots and others Irish Nationalists like to support.”

    Even if, for the sake of argument, we say that it was a British nation, then it doesn’t follow that the members of that nation have a right to declare British sovereignty in any region of the world where they take up residence.

    There is only one right to self-determination per nation and there is only one right to one homeland per nation. The right to self-determination of the British nation already existed and would not have ceased to exist had the actions of people in the north of Ireland been different actions than what they were.

    This is why Jews, for example, don’t set up many states of Israel. In common with all other nations, they recognise they have one right to one homeland and no more than one.

    It is only the British nation who think they have a right to a homeland wherever its errant members they lay their proverbial hats. ;)

    “Of course, 1998 brought us closer to the reality that we have one “Irish” State on the island, and one shared by both “Irish” and “British”.”

    It’s debatable to what degree the Orange considered itself to be British. They generally considered themselves to be Irish. At any rate, a nation-state exists for a nation, just as the British nation is a de facto nation-state for the British nation.

    It’s also debatable how long the sovereign British nation will survive since the non-sovereign nations that comprise it desire to be sovereign nations, most notably in Scotland but there is also a powerful non-sovereign English nation which increasingly resents the limitations imposed on it by the expediently invented British nation. The British nation was engineered to serve a purpose related to the retention of territory that belonged to other nations just as the Northern Irish nation is engineered to serve a purpose related to the retention of territory that rightfully belongs to another nation. That purpose, do far as the British nation is concerned, is fading out fast – and the odds are that the nation itself will fade after it.

    For the foreseeable future, however, the UK will continue to serve as a de facto nation-state for the British nation. On the other hand, the agenda is to persuade the Irish nation to give up its own nation-state and to ‘share’ its territory with the British nation. The outcome of this try-on would be that the British nation would retain its homeland, since the UK would continue to exist as the sovereign territory wherein it governs itself, whereas the hapless Irish nation would have given up its homeland and its right to govern itself.

    As it says in Article 1 of the Irish Constitution in regard to self-determination: “The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.”

    You will note that it doesn’t say anything about giving a veto to a foreign nation. That is because the clue to the meaning of self-determination is in the word before the hyphen. Hence the position of Irish nationalism was – before the British state redefined it to serve its purpose – that there were two traditions but only one nation. The ‘parity of esteem’ to be extended was to Irish protestants and Ulstermen but now there is no mention at all of these folks in the British Irish Agreement, wherein the ‘parity of esteem’ in the treaty is to be extended to a foreign nation via internal governance and to its state via supranational constructions. So there we have the British state as a ‘changeling’ which has swapped itself for the Orange baby in order to secure its own national interests.

    “This is the most obvious solution, but one rejected both by “Nationalists” (who for some reason want to force everyone into a State founded by and for exclusively the “Irish” nation) and by “Unionists” (who still want to deny reality and pretend that Northern Ireland is exclusively “British” even when more than half its population does not identify as such).”

    Again, it’s debatable to what degree Irish nationalists in Ireland desire to annex Northern Ireland, in the present, the past, and the future. The saner ones would now recognise that unity was rendered impossible by the GFA. So whatever degree it was possible as two traditions but one nation it is now utterly impossible as two nations and one state.

    The political parties in Ireland (who were purposefully excluded from the all-party talks in Northern Ireland) only signed up to that tosh because they knew that the British state, via its covert agencies, would send its murder gangs back about their dismal business if the Irish state didn’t agree to the British agenda and to give up its territorial claim, etc. The likes of FF are only using ‘unity’ as a way to out-green the Shinners in Ireland – and, remember, green just means nationalist and nationalists doesn’t mean pro-unity among those voters who wear the green.

    If the Irish people knew and understood what was in the British Irish Agreement there’d be another uprising – which is why the muppets weren’t encouraged to read it. Ask 10,000 of them if they know that the UK now has control of internal political functions within their state that were formerly within their sovereign remit to determine but which no longer are and you’d be luckly to get 1 out of that 10,000 who knows it. That is the level of ignorance on which ‘support’ for the GFA rest. It is assumed that Irish culture can be destoyed by degrees so that the society is indistinguiahble from the UK. And with foundations that weak….

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    I think the centenary of the Curragh Mutiny should be commemorated next year. And loyalists should think about the fact that on the eve of the First World War the officer ranks of the British army were willing to threaten to mutiny in support of their kith and kin in Ulster and a century later most British on the mainland including the officer class would be quite happy to be rid of Northern Ireland. Maybe the loyalists can think about that as they prepare to go and destroy a few more businesses in the name of British culture.

    NI would be best off focusing on the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 as this is something that would actually connect them with their fellow citizens across the Irish Sea and to many of their fellow citizens in the South.