Riots have revoked licence to stereotype

David Adams in the Irish Times with an important perspective on the Dublin riots. All, he argues, is not lost! (subs Needed). He doesn’t use the word ‘historical” once, but he may well have nailed the long term significance of last Saturday, for Northerners and Southerners alike. “To date, the organisers of the riots in Dublin, and others, have had free rein to stereotype unionists as they like. But all is far from lost, for by their actions of last Saturday the same people have now gifted the rest of us with a perfect opportunity to set things right”.In the first place, this was not a Sinn Fein thang:

t is essential that some of the myths that have already taken hold be dispensed with. Contrary to initial reports, it is clear that “busloads of republican supporters” were not ferried in from Northern Ireland to initiate and take part in the violent disorder. In fact, the addresses of those who have appeared before the courts show that most rioters travelled from no farther than the outskirts of Dublin city.

Though it will undoubtedly disappoint many, there is no evidence to suggest that Sinn Féin was involved in organising or lending support to last Saturday’s disturbances. It would have been incredibly stupid of them if they had. Sinn Féin have many failings but stupidity is not one.

Nor was it a ‘Free State’ thang:

How atypical the Dublin troublemakers really are was confirmed by the outpouring of anger and revulsion at Saturday’s events from virtually every quarter in the Republic. Last Saturday’s thugs are no more a reflection of broader opinion than are the criminals, racists, homophobes and bigots that loiter on the margins of every society.


…the fact remains that the violence was planned and orchestrated by associates of the IRSP and Republican Sinn Féin. These are people well versed in the slogans of republicanism, but totally divorced from any real commitment to the sentiments contained therein. Their narrow, sectarian and exclusive brand of politics has much in common with the worldview of extreme nationalist groups like the British National Party.

But here’s the meat in the sandwich:

The danger lies in the fact that for far too long a simplistic one-sided version of recent history, such as people like this recount, has gone largely unchallenged in the Republic. This history ignores – or at worst bestows – nobility on countless sectarian atrocities committed over decades by the IRA and its offshoots. By their account, unionists (code for northern Protestants) and their British allies are inherently bad and fully deserving of whatever agonies were heaped upon them.

While the government of the Republic, over recent years, has succeeded in building good relationships with virtually all strands of unionism, this has largely taken place over the heads of the wider community in the South. There remains among the general population in the Republic, and this is particularly true among younger people, an almost complete lack of understanding of the unionist people of Northern Ireland, their history and the suffering they had to endure.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty