Loach, Ireland, Iraq and ‘occupation’…

Hearts and Minds last night grabbed an interview with Ken Loach (it’s in the last five or six minutes of the programme). He seems to be fighting a defensive rearguard for most of the time on air, muttering about right wing nutters in the British press. Indeed the controversy has been rumbling on the Guardian site all week since George Monbiot took up Loach’s comparison of 1920’s Ireland with present day Iraq. The conversation is long, but engaging. It was followed with critical pieces from Ruth Dudley Edwards , Niall Stanage, and my own contribution. Oh and Monbiot again.

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  • Pete Baker

    God.. not Monbiot again? 😉

    But he at least boils down the crass analogy used by Loach to its essence, all foreign intervention is bad – “Occupations become brutal as an inevitable result of the political and psychological position of the occupying forces.”

    Part of the reason I suspect Loach was so defensive in that interview is that he knows it’s a crass analogy in the examples he chose.. but a) they were the ones to hand.. and b) he knew that invoking Iraq wouldn’t do his chances of winning in Cannes any harm.

    Btw, has anyone mentioned Kosovo in this discussion yet, Mick?

  • Harry

    I thought Loach acquitted himself well. It’s Noel Whatsisname who comes across as a crypto-unionist snarler. Not for the first time.

  • Donagh

    Loach didn’t choose the analogy – the script was written before the invasion.

  • Pete Baker

    Donagh

    The reason the analogy is being discussed is because Loach made the analogy in his interviews prior to Cannes.. as well as during Cannes.. and during his acceptance speech.

  • Doctor Who

    “I thought Loach acquitted himself well. It’s Noel Whatsisname who comes across as a crypto-unionist snarler. Not for the first time.”

    Harry yet again you come up trumphs, say what every other narrow minded republican would like to say.

    Of course you think the sun shines out of Ken Loach´s ass, he has after all not for the first time made a film making excuses for IRA atrocities, he is on record for beleiving the Provo reign of terror was just.

    But to pick on poor Noel just because he´s not from Ballymurphy and doesn´t blame the Brits for everything from the ice age to the extincxtion of man, is a bit rich even for a well blinkered man like yourself.

  • Harry

    I think you will find that I’m not narrow-minded. I would say that my appraisal of the interview would be considered the closest to the truth by most outside observers. To open the interview about the struggle for freedom of the Irish people by reducing it, in an aggressive manner, to a terrorist caricature, with the implicit suggestion that there was some legitimacy in the british occupation and perforce implying that one is required to justify oneself as an irish person about asserting oneself in arms, is offensive and inaccurate.

  • Doctor Who

    Harry, British presence in Ireland cannot be compared to say India.

    Ireland sent MP´s to Westminister and therefore was integrated into the UK. The act of Union established Ireland as part of that united kingdom rightly or wrongly. The fight for self determination by irish people has had many twists and turns. The suspended Home Rule Act of 1912 signalled an understanding that Britain would withdraw.

    The illegal uprising of 1916 (while many other British and Irish where fighting and dying in Europe) was the catalyst for events that followed.

    Rightly or wrongly Irishmen used violence to pressurise the British who had already agreed to withdraw. If you think that you can take the life´s of people without any justification and then say the right to murder should not be questioned, well i´m afraid Harry this makes you the most narrow of the narrow minded.

    While the peace process struggles along here, Ken Loach is saying that any comprimise with the British is betrayl. This is Nationalism at it´s most ugly. Ken Loach portrays the British in his film as one dimensional monsters who never question why they would torture and pillage the working class people from across the Irish sea. Compare this to the the two main protaganists in the film and their IRA chums who are portrayed as saintly and idealistic.

    There is one moment in the film when we see the young idealist volunteer kill a local kid because he has unwittingly passed on info to the British. Of course the film defends these actions as a necessary evil of war. These things have to be done as to maintain a focus on objectives and principles.

    In my opinion the comparison Loach makes with todays occupied Iraq is a smokescreen, what I think he is saying is that modern Repulicanism has forgotten it´s principles.

    For Loach that maybe is a dissapointment but for the rest of us it means we can go to work without the fear of being shot in the back or blown to bits.

    Harry again if you think such notions should not be questioned, well then you are lost.

  • Harry

    Jackanory. Which window did you learn that history through, the round window?

  • Doctor Who

    “Jackanory. Which window did you learn that history through, the round window”

    Perhaps Harry if you stopped reading the gospel according to P. O´Neill you wouldn´t come across as such a fool.

  • Mick Fealty

    Put the handbags down, and step away from the thread…

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Rightly or wrongly Irishmen used violence to pressurise the British who had already agreed to withdraw

    Simply, and bluntly, they should never have been here in the first place. Britain has no right to rule any part of Ireland. I realise this will upset Unionists, but tough. And they had not agreed to withdraw, the 1914 act introduced partition and in the immediate aftermath of the 1918 election they jailed most of the democratically-elected SF candidates, and fought a war to stop the south becoming independent. Some agreement to withdraw that was.

    People can be as culturally British as they like, but at the end of the day they are a minority in Ireland. We agree to let cultural minorities do what they want and support minority cultural expression whether it be the Chinese, the Poles, the Nigerians or the British-Irish; they have to accept that this is Ireland and the Irish people have a right to control their own affairs.

    End of story.

  • Shay Begorrah

    The unintentionally amusing phrase “illegal uprising” the doctor uses imagines that a controlling power can derive moral legitimacy from people acquiescing to it being in power (Go Leviathan, go!) when clearly there are have been many situations where the people killing the agents of the state or its supporters (every colonial uprising, the ANC’s armed wing, etc) have been, for lack of a better word, the good guys.

    So the moral argument about the 1916 rising and Ireland taking its independence rather than accepting increased devolution can not be based on whether it was within the law because the war was about how the law is made and by whom.

    Instead the argument has to be based on whether there was in that particular instance a moral case for the use of violence and a public good arising from it. The case for that is accepted by most people outside these Islands excepting those who feel that there could be unpleasant truths about the moral legitimacy of their position if the 1916 rising was justified.

    It is foolish to even discuss the 1916 rising or representations of it here on Slugger. It is not that Unionists have come to an unassailable philosophical position on the virtue of British control over Ireland or the exclusive use of violence* by the British state or its supporters but because Unionism is itself the result of that philosophy.

    * Violence is wrong except when the Queen’s government says it is not.

  • Henry94

    Dr Who

    Ireland sent MP´s to Westminister and therefore was integrated into the UK.

    We were integrated against our will. The Home Rule movement tried to get us out peacefully and in the end we set up Dail Eireann which was promptly declared illegal. That is the legality we were subject to so calling the rising illegal is meaningless.

    An Irish person at any time has the moral right to take up arms against foreign occupation in the absence of a free vote of the people of Ireland to decide their political future.

    I would, at this point in history, oppose force on tactical and political grounds but there simply is no moral argument against Irish use of force while British occupation is sustained by force.

    And there never will be.

  • Nevin

    “End of story.”

    And yet it is a story that has run and run and run …

  • Brian Boru

    I think what George Monbiot says about Ireland is correct. At the same time I only partially agree with his comparison with Iraq. Yes it probably is true that massacres in Iraq with intent are far more common than we are led to believe. But the difference is that in Iraq, elections judged free and fair were held and alleged irregularities were meticullously investigated. In Ireland in 1918, the British decided they did not like how we voted and so sent in the Tans and the Auxilaries to suppress our decision and to terrorise the people. But the common denominator is the attrocities against civilians by an outside power.

    Dr.Who, sometimes imperial powers decide de jure to incorporate the territory of colonies into their official ‘national territory’ in order to mask the fact that on the ground, the ‘former’ colony is in fact still a colony for practical purposes. Examples of this include the endless introduction of martial law, the separate administration in Dublin Cadtle under the Lord Lieutenant which was always Protestant from 1691 until the last one Viscount FitzAlan just before Irish independence. We had made our decision in 1918. The British had no right to ban the party that won that election. That they did so proved that constitutional attempts to gain independence could not possibly work at that time, especially as fighting had not broken out before they banned SF.

    People have a right to withdraw their consent to be governed. The Americans used this right in 1776. The Irish used that right in 1919. I have no apology for it. George Monbiot is right that violence by the State also needs to be taken account of by the media and not just by the rebels in a conflict like this. I don’t believe in placing the forces of the State on an automatic high-moral-ground such that they escape scrutiny for their actions while hypocritically villifying others for actions less odious than their own. Even today there is too much of that. Even so, I am sure the majority of world opinion believes the Irish were in the right in 1919-21, not least because 25% of the world’s population were once under British imperial rule and have similar memories of having to drive the British out by similar methods.

    Now there have been arguments here about the exact share of the vote the Old SF gotr in 1918. It got around 48%. However the combined Nationalist vote was closer to 75%. One thing is for sure, this does not justify sending in the Tans and Auxilaries to burn the towns and cities of Southern Ireland and kill their people. This kind of behaviour at the time would not have been countenanced in England, Scotland and Wales – again showing that Ireland was being ruled as a colony on the ground – irrespective of the legalistic niceties of whether it was ‘part of the UK’ or not. I am more interests in rights or wrongs that the legalistic stuff, and I do not equate the latter with the former. Laws often do not reflect natural justice.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Are there any contributors to this thread who have actually seemn the film? I believe that a few of the usuual suspects ie the Telgraph and RDE ran off at the mouth based on the fact that they believed it was just an anti British vehicle.

  • Brian Boru

    I haven’t seen it yet no. But I recognise the rhetoric from some of the British press from when “Michael Collins” came out in 1996 and I know what mentality lies behind it.

  • Doctor Who

    Yes I have seen the film. Criticising the British press for making reasonable comments about it does not mean they are viewing from a right wing stance.

    In my previous posts, the point I was making was that anything which seeks to justify the taking of life should always be questioned. The main protaganists in this film are portrayed as saintly and idealistic, whereas the British are one dimentional beasts. It is this black and white, good and evil theme which I have the biggest problem with. The British are almost like the evil empire in Star Wars, while all the poor old Irish want to do is drink Guinness and play Hurly.

    Loach´s other film on Ireland, Hidden Agenda also sought to justify IRA atrocities, it even had a Sinn Fein councillor stating that any loss of life is regretable but in a war situation it is inevitable, this was accepted in that film by the main protaganist as matter of fac. Again it is the reluctant “murderer” with the notion if only the British where not here.

    No where in Loach´s two films about Ireland does he challenge the idea of armed struggle,in fact he seeks to justify it without challenge.

    Loach is telling his audience, you surrendered and you forgot your principles, he see´s the provo campaign as every bit as justified as 1916. His comparison to Iraq is laughable and only serves to fuel republican “mopery”.

  • Brian Boru

    “Yes I have seen the film. Criticising the British press for making reasonable comments about it does not mean they are viewing from a right wing stance”

    It does when they make these remarks without having even seen the film e.g. Simon Heffer who compared it to Mein Kampf (said he hadn’t seen it like he hadn’t read Mein Hampf)! Same goes for most of the other comments on it in the press.

    On the idea of “armed struggle” I believe it shouldn’t involve killing civilians, and is only valid to resist oppression by the forces of the State. Without it, human rights are exposed to the full forces of the State be they good or bad. I do not believe in unquestioning obedience to the forces of the State for the sake of it. I believe in that context that the founding-fathers of the Irish state fought a morally-correct armed-struggle, whereas the Provos manifestly did not.

    Some will ask why we didn’t use constitutional means to achieve independence. My answer is that those means were stolen from us when Britain banned the party that won the 1918 election – the Old SF. That left us with no choice but to drive them out. The Americans likewise refused to accept the British closing down the Massachusetts assembly. Sometimes force is the only available means at a people’s disposal to achieve democracy and independence and in that context, it becomes morally justified and certainly not “terrorism” if the people targeted are either fighting for the oppressor or collabroating with it.

    On the “Hidden Agenda” point, while I haven’t seen it, I understand it relates to British security-force collusion with Loyalist terrorists? If so has it not proven accurate in the light of the Stevens report? Did you know that in 1990 the UDA was still legal? It was only banned in 1993 and you have to ask “why?”. And on the “right and wrong” issue, there can be no making excuses for using the forces of the State to suppress an election result. There is certainly nothing idealist about that, except from a tyrants point of view.

  • Reader

    Ciaran Irvine: People can be as culturally British as they like, but at the end of the day they are a minority in Ireland.
    Not in this part of Ireland.

  • friendlyCreggan

    “His comparison to Iraq is laughable” – Doctor Who

    Where exactly does Loach do/ mention the ‘comparisons to Iraq’?

    Thanks

    FC

  • Doctor Who

    Brian

    The Stevens enquiry actually concluded that it did not find evidence of a shoot to kill policy.

    Hidden Agenda ended with the main protaganist having evidence of a conspiracy involving the highest levels. So no it was not proved right.

    You use the word “morally” alot, in that case do you think it is morally right to run up to someone ans shoot them in back of the haead (a perferred method of execution employed by most “freedom fighters”).

    You seem to see a conspiracy in the fact that the UDA was not banned until 1993??, I will not seek to defend this organisation, but after it was outlawed the UDP came more to the forefront. While membership wasn´t technically a crime, if you where a member and committed a crime you where not excluded from justice. This is reflected in the high number of solved loyalist crimes brought to justice against those committed by republicans.

    Why.

  • Doctor Who

    “Where exactly does Loach do/ mention the ‘comparisons to Iraq’?”

    At Cannes press conference after the film won the Palm Dór, Loach said he now hoped that British people would face up to their imperial past..he later said the film was inspired by the Iraqi “·occupation” and seen comparisons with Britains atrciies in Ireland and those of the Allies in Iraq.

    He has continued to make these comparisons in interviews on TV and in the Press.

    Hope that clears that up for ya!!

  • friendlyCreggan

    Thanks Doctor Who for the reply

    STILL no LINKS to ‘quotes’ etc from you?
    I’ve heard the team behind the film being interviewed on BBC Radio Ulster this week saying that they were working on the script for this film YEARS before the latest IRAQ ‘war’ (and YES, I have no link either but I heard one of the team saying this, a Scottish fella I think?)

    “He has continued to make these comparisons in interviews on TV and in the Press”

    I await some LINKS to ‘quotes’ then.
    Should be easily enough found considering the above claim?

  • Doctor Who

    “Should be easily enough found considering the above claim?”

    Well then go find them.

  • Pete Baker

    The ‘chronology of the script’ argument, faulty though it is for a Loach film, but as espoused by friendlyCreggan for example, should surely support the non-comparison rather than the comparison?

    In any event the film itself is not the topic here.. nor are the events the film depicts.. the topic of the thread is the analogy that Loach invoked.

  • heck

    dr who —to quote the question you asked of Brian

    “You use the word “morally” alot, in that case do you think it is morally right to run up to someone ans shoot them in back of the haead (a perferred method of execution employed by most “freedom fighters”).”

    do YOU think there is any moral difference in flying over a third world country at 60000 ft, dropping tons of bombs on it, blowing thousands of people to hell and calling it “shock and awe”? A “prefered method” used by Honest Tony and his neo con buddies.

    If you do please tell me what it is.

  • Well Ruth Dudley Edwards is articulate methinks. Eoin Harris, the right wing ex SFWP who writes in today’s Sindo, is also down on Loach, which makes a change from being down on other things I guess.

    Harris wrote Souper Sullivan about a group of Cork riff raff who abandoned their faith and souls for a mess of Protestant pottage during the 1847 genocide (in case Sinead O’Connor is reading) (they sold their souls for penny rolls). He paints these Lundys out as heroes. The real heroes were the Catholics who gave the Protestant souper supremacists the finger.

    The same dined on Collins, the movie about MI5 agent Michaael Collins. The thing was a movie so of course corners were cut with Dev in the GPO etc and the Belfast car bomb. These are dishonest. What do they want? A 2 hour Andy Warhol type movie saying: KAT, ATAT.

    As regards Iraq, Britain has no right, never had any right and never will have any right to meddle in Iraq’s internal affairs. No doubt who the big war criminals on that particular block are.

    On the subject of movies and the fight for Irish freedom: anybody ever see Jimmy Cagney in Shake Hands with the Devil. A classic clash of movie cultures there. Also, John Ford’s The Informer where the IRA are all clean cut Rosary toting dudes, who love their mammies. Ryan’s Daughter probably got it right enough.

  • Mick Fealty

    Articulate, informative and thought provoking, as usual Taigs. Just go a bit lighter on the personal stuff – (I’ve cut the worst of it as you’ll notice).

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Ryan’s Daughter probably got it right enough.’

    I’ll have a pint of whatever he’s drinking.

  • The music score in The Informer was very good. A sense of perppetuity about it.
    Kiss of the Spider Woman was alos good and politically incorrect. Why not make a faction movie of Roger Casement? Now there is a topic could get the blood rise on a few people? It could unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter against Hollywood.

  • Brian Boru

    “You use the word “morally” alot, in that case do you think it is morally right to run up to someone ans shoot them in back of the haead (a perferred method of execution employed by most “freedom fighters”).”

    Sounds like something the Tans would have done in 1919-21. In relation to that conflict, it is no worse doen by the Old IRA than done by the Tans. I have already said I oppose attacks on civilians who stay out of a conflict.

    “You seem to see a conspiracy in the fact that the UDA was not banned until 1993??, I will not seek to defend this organisation, but after it was outlawed the UDP came more to the forefront. While membership wasn´t technically a crime, if you where a member and committed a crime you where not excluded from justice. This is reflected in the high number of solved loyalist crimes brought to justice against those committed by republicans.”

    Tell that to the Finucane family. It took more than 10 years to get a conviction and the authorities almost certainly knew who was responsible after all the Stevens Report found there had been collusion with the security forces. During internment nearly everyone jailed were Republicans. The reality is that for many years, the British state secretly regarded the Loyalist paramilitaries as their allies.

  • Doctor Who

    “The reality is that for many years, the British state secretly regarded the Loyalist paramilitaries as their allies. ”

    Oh and don´t forget their must high profile ally….. Martin McGuinness.

    Brian, although what you say rings true in relation to internment, the figures show a much higher level of closure on crimes perpetrated by loyalist terrorists that tose committed by republican terrorists.

    Strange that you think that the British state would send their “allies” to jail for life.

  • Doctor Who

    “do YOU think there is any moral difference in flying over a third world country at 60000 ft, dropping tons of bombs on it, blowing thousands of people to hell and calling it “shock and awe”? A “prefered method” used by Honest Tony and his neo con buddies.

    If you do please tell me what it is. ”

    No but I am not the one preaching morals here.

    What I am trying to say is that if you take a life or defend someone for the taking of a life, well then by taking this extreme approach you should not only defend your actions but question the cause you did it for and question wether any cause is worth killing for.

    I say this without any ambiguity.

  • Harry

    I visited a loyalist band website which bemoaned how the person their band is named after, a UVF man whose name I forget, was shot dead by an undercover british army patrol while on a murder job as a pillion passenger. What struck me is the way that loyalists don’t trust the state too much either, rail against its treachery when it happens and yet remain loyal to britishness and britain’s hold over n. ireland. A strange type of deal between the murder gangs and the government in which the murder gangs are given much greater latitude in carrying out criminality than in most otehr societies while knowing they may be arrested or shot at any moment if it’s politically expedient for the government to do so.

    Such seems to be the diabolical compact between loyalist paramilitaries and the political status quo. An odd sort of arrangement in which one side remains loyal even though they know the other side might, and has, betrayed them at any moment. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Harry

    Doctor Who:
    “What I am trying to say is that if you take a life or defend someone for the taking of a life, well then by taking this extreme approach you should not only defend your actions but question the cause you did it for and question wether any cause is worth killing for. ”

    Rubbish. What you are trying to do is engage in psychological warfare whose purpose is to debilitate the energy of the Irish by attempting to make them feel guilt. Look at the thuggery of your own political viewpoint and the violence it has wrought over the course of the last 84 years and for three centuries before that. Look at the millions who died in the genocide of 1845-50, the evictions, imprisonments and deportations that took place under the rule of your political forbears and then lets see what pig ignorant, self-regarding and intellectually dishonest shite you come out with.

  • Doctor Who

    Harry it is not betrayl…it is called breaking the law.

    They did it, they got caught and they did in many cases only half the time.

    One wonders how the IRA had so much inside information on their targets….do you think it could be betrayl from the inside. Martin perhaps.

  • Doctor Who

    “Rubbish. What you are trying to do is engage in psychological warfare whose purpose is to debilitate the energy of the Irish by attempting to make them feel guilt. Look at the thuggery of your own political viewpoint and the violence it has wrought over the course of the last 84 years and for three centuries before that. Look at the millions who died in the genocide of 1845-50, the evictions, imprisonments and deportations that took place under the rule of your political forbears and then lets see what pig ignorant, self-regarding and intellectually dishonest shite you come out with. ”

    Harry thank you again with providing me with such entertainment, I will laugh at this post for days if only for it´s sheer eleoquence.

    At times I am convinced you are taking the piss and you must be a troll, the funny thing is you are not.

  • Leonard Cohen

    Harry..I´m laughing too

  • TAFKABO

    What you are trying to do is engage in psychological warfare whose purpose is to debilitate the energy of the Irish by attempting to make them feel guilt.

    Wow, it’s hard to read something like that and understand why they lost.

  • J McConnell

    Harry

    > Look at the millions who died in the genocide of 1845-50….

    Which millions are these?

    Even using the most profligate wild-ass guesstimate of the death toll in Ireland the average peasant in the west of Ireland still stood a better chance of survival than the average working class stiff living in slums of London during the mid and late 1840’s. Or were the several hundred thousand people who died during the terrible influenza and cholera epidemics that swept London in the mid and late 1840’s victims of genocide too?

    And what about the several hundred thousand people who died of hunger and disease in France during those terrible years. I suppose the Brits were responsible for that famine as well.

    Perfidious Albion…

  • Harry

    It’s the bald truth. A lot of narrative is little more than subliminal war and is based upon assumptions and arguments which even its proponents know is watery, were they to have the intellectual honesty to detain for a moment and admit their hermeneutic limitations. This is especially true of unionists and doubly so when they demand the Irish ‘justify’ themselves when discussing how they struck out for their freedom.

  • Harry

    The hunger of 1845-50 killed around 3 million and drove a further 1 million into exile. The people who suffered this had had control of the land taken from them, control of politics and economics taken from them and control of arms taken from them. They were therefore subjected to a situation in which the resources to ameliorate their situation were taken from them. Further, there was enough food to feed 17 million people annually being removed from ireland thoughout this time, frequently under armed escort precisely through those areas where famine was raging. In order to apply entry into the workhouse people had to give up whatever land they had over 1/4 of an acre in size. In many workhouses the numbers who died were between a half and two-thirds of residents. It was genocide.

    As regards the experience of the english working classes; they have suffered appallingly since the time of the Enclosures and have lived pitiably in british industrial cities. That they suffered for so long this way without really challenging their overlords reminds me of a quote by Nietzsche:
    “The English working class are the most witless in Europe.”

  • Daily Ireland, the paper of record, tells us that Willie Frazer’s Monster Raving Loney Party is making a movie about the role of priests (Catholic) in the 1981 hunger strikes. No doubt s future Cannes winner. Let’s hope the rest of the loony brigade treat it as kindly as DI did.

  • DK

    Harry,

    Where do you get your figures? Wikipedia puts the deaths at 0.5 to 1.5 million and emigration at 1.5 to 2 million.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_potato_famine

    Also, have you sources for how the agriculture of the 1840s could support 17 million people. (The much larger UK had to import food in 1914 to feed 45 million.)

  • Harry

    Why don’t you ask Wikipedia where they get their figures from, more to the point.

  • Doctor Who

    Harry go on….you get your figures from a special book, after all you are a very special person.

  • Who cares whether it was 1-1/2 million or three? They are dead, Sluggiepoo navel gazers. They would ALL be dead, even if Mother England had fed them tea and cakes for ten years. It’s passed guys, finished, gone.

    The point to take to the bank is that in the 1840s the English knew more about India than they did about the west of Ireland.

    They were equally ignorant in the 1920’s of the Middle East and still of Ireland. All the more easy to fuck things up.

    Thus Churchill and Balfour gave us Northern Ireland and the present Middle East. Note the symmetry, do the math.

    Now, since it’s a Loach thread, hows about another exciting exposition on the Spanish Civil War, lads.

  • Brian Boru

    “Also, have you sources for how the agriculture of the 1840s could support 17 million people. (The much larger UK had to import food in 1914 to feed 45 million.)”

    From reading the BBC website, it seems in the beginning enough food was exported from Ireland to feed the entire population starving and non-starving.

  • Brian Boru

    “Even using the most profligate wild-ass guesstimate of the death toll in Ireland the average peasant in the west of Ireland still stood a better chance of survival than the average working class stiff living in slums of London during the mid and late 1840’s. Or were the several hundred thousand people who died during the terrible influenza and cholera epidemics that swept London in the mid and late 1840’s victims of genocide too?

    And what about the several hundred thousand people who died of hunger and disease in France during those terrible years. I suppose the Brits were responsible for that famine as well.”

    J McConnell Ireland was ruled by Britain at the time unlike France so that is a nonsensical comparison. The British culpability comes from the following factors:

    A: The system of landlordism whereby almost all the people were at the mercy of English or Protestant aristocrats because of the Plantations of the 17th centuries and the Penal Laws (whose affects lingered long after the latter’s repeal), who mass evicted 500,000 people and rack-rented the tenants. The people were too oppressed by these rents and paying tithes to the Church of Ireland to afford to feed themselves.

    B: The frustration of the arrival of foreign aid. A proposed donation to famine-relief from the Sultan of Turkey had to be cut from £10,000 to £1,000 to avoid embarrassing Queen Victoria who donated only £7,000 personally. Famine-relief ships from Turkey were barred from docking in English ports by the Famine Queen.

    C: Mean-spirited forms of ‘aid’, involving public-works schemes to earn cash to feed themselves. The local-authorities would have to apply for loans from the British govt to pay for this, which had to be repayed at 6% per annum over 2 years. Not surprisingly many landlords were deterred by this and their own skinflint nature. And many who did work on these schemes died of starvation.

    D: Closing down of the soup-kitchens in 1847 by the British govt that declared the Famine over – it had 4 more years to go.

    E: Refusal to stop agricultural exports that could have fed the people.

    F: Transportation of those to Australia who were forced to steal to feed their families, or who criticised the British govt’s handling of the Famine.

    No-one is suggesting – as you well know – that the British govt concocted a plot to create potato blight. They were responsible for the starvation however because of the economic conditions they and previous govts had created over decades and centuries. Comparison with mainland UK is a joke. They didn’t lose one eighth of their population through starvation and half of it through being starved out. The British Establishment welcomed what had happened as evidenced from the savage coverage of the British press e.g. The Times at the time.

  • Harry

    “Who cares whether it was 1-1/2 million or three? They are dead, Sluggiepoo navel gazers.”

    It is important because this was genocide not an accident. But the british have and continue to represent it as some sort of ‘an accident’. Would you accept a history of the jewish holocaust that pretended it was some sort of accident? Should memories of Stalin’s genocides be referred to as ‘accidents’?

    Holocaust denial of your own people, as practised by the southern irish establishment for their own contemporary political reasons, is disgusting.

  • Doctor Who

    “B: The frustration of the arrival of foreign aid. A proposed donation to famine-relief from the Sultan of Turkey had to be cut from £10,000 to £1,000 to avoid embarrassing Queen Victoria who donated only £7,000 personally. Famine-relief ships from Turkey were barred from docking in English ports by the Famine Queen.”

    I seem to remember you coming up with this tripe before on another thread.

    It´s ok I laughed loudly for a second time.

  • Doctor Who

    “It is important because this was genocide not an accident. But the british have and continue to represent it as some sort of ‘an accident’. Would you accept a history of the jewish holocaust that pretended it was some sort of accident? Should memories of Stalin’s genocides be referred to as ‘accidents’?

    Holocaust denial of your own people, as practised by the southern irish establishment for their own contemporary political reasons, is disgusting.”

    Harry please go get some help.

  • “It is important because this was genocide not an accident”

    Oh bullshit.

    Firstly, the difference between one and three million will not determine whether it is a genocide or not. That is just plain navel gazing.

    Secondly, genocide implies a conscious intent and will to exterminate the Irish. The English of the early nineteenth century did not have either. They were just stone cold stupid when it came to Ireland, totally uninterested in what happened there and rigorously attached to their own self-interests. When the horror was fully brought to their attention they came to the rescue in the way most governments do: They fucked it up.

    C’mon Sluggiepoos, this ain’t rocket science.

  • Harry

    Where do you get your figures from Doctor Who? Wikipedia? That wikipedia article is tendentious and lacking in data. In fact it strains to seem ‘objective’ by being as kind as possible to england in its interpretation.

    There are hundreds of mass graves around ireland from the famine era, almost all unmarked, unconsecrated and forgotten. Why have none of these graves been analysed to find out how many people there are in them and to cross-reference the findings with records available from the census, poor law unions, workhouses, estate ledgers, catholic church and other records so as to ascertain with more accuracy what the true numbers are? Why are these graves unmarked? Can you imagine jewish graves containing hundreds or thousands of bodies being left unmarked and unconsecrated?

    How accurate was the census of 1841? Do you know that it consisted of 2 forms, one was to be filled in by the occupant and was about family numbers, occupation etc., the other was to be filled in by the enumerator and recorded property, landholdings and livestock. What does that tell you about the priorities of the english in their census? How accurate do you think the census was when these were the terms in which it was undertaken amongst a largely irish speaking and frequently illiterate population with no obligation on the enumerator to ensure accuracy on the part of the householder?

    There are contempoary reports from the time of landlords arriving at their lands in order to distribute relief only to find 5 or 10 times the number of people there than they believed were on their land. Strangely they refer to these people as their tenants rather than as people from otehr parishes looking for a free meal.

    There are some who estimate that the cansus of 1841 missed approx. 2 million people. Some say more, others say less. The numbers are far from certain and there is every reason to believe that the british and later the Irish establishment have underestimated the numbers killed. The complete neglect of the mass graves is a particularly shameful thing on the part of successive Irish governments, who would rather forget about this time and engage in holocaust denial rather than confront the truth or even investigate it properly.

    So where do you get your figures from Doctor Who? Wikipedia. Worse than useless – it pretends to scientific ‘objectivity’ when a simple scratching or the surface will show the slovenly and tendentious nature of that article. An indication of the attitude informing that article can seen in the following quote from it:

    Some may argue the Famine was necessary to restore population equilibrium to Ireland given that population increased by 13-14% in the first three decades of the 19th century (using Thomas Malthus’s idea of population expanding geometrically, resources increasing arithmetically) nonetheless there is a tendency among Irish historians to dispute this.

    Disgusting. Would they apply Malthus to Stalin’s collectivisation of the Kulaks? This is also a disgusting comment to make in light of the extant manifests of cargo shipped from Ireland during this time showing precisely how much livestock and food was exported.

  • Let’s not forget the Bengal famine while we are at it. Indians starved to fatten up the Tommies who were running away from the glorious Japanese Imperial Army. They’d stil be buiding the Burma Railway if the TYanks hadn’t have rescued their sorry asses.
    Parity of Esteem: Croppy’s Acre was long ignored, except by Dublin hookers and their punters.

    Wikipedia: Go check out the P H Pearse entry. It is moderated by a guy who streses he is a homosexual bear and who has the most tortuous English pushing his gay bear agenda. Wikipedia is a handy but spotty source.

  • Donnacha

    I’ve followed the various threads on this subject with interest, but there is one thing about it — and several other threads on various blogs — that puzzles me. While many of the (for want of a better word) pro-British posters agree — albeit swiftly in passing — that what happened in Ireland was not a particularly nice thing, they then carry on and say “But we can’t be expected to feel guilty for something that happened so long ago.” Fair enough, but when they proclaim pride in their roots and their heritage, should they not also distance themselves from any feelings of ownership there as well? Or is it okay to be proud of only certain parts of your community of choice’s past?

  • Harry

    “While many of the (for want of a better word) pro-British posters agree—albeit swiftly in passing—that what happened in Ireland was not a particularly nice thing, they then carry on and say “But we can’t be expected to feel guilty for something that happened so long ago.””

    Yes, that’s when they’re dealing with the relatively trifling matter of a holocaust. When talking about the much more serious matter of a film though we are told we must ‘question’ and find ‘justification’ for violent acts engaged in by the irish.

    Apparently that film shows the brits pulling out someones fingernails or toenails. Perhaps some unionists would like to contribute their thoughts on what ‘justification’ or ‘questions’ reflect back upon unionism by this activity?

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Guys,

    Let’s try and keep some seriousness about the discussion. Scraping up every little bit of ‘outrage’ from history and dumping it at unionism’s door is just plain silly. I thought we left behind that kind of extemporising on any theme you like, (and whatever you are having yourself) months ago.

    There are serious social, political and economic reasons behind both the Irish and Bengal famines. By all means explore them if you think they’re relevant. But spare us all the subborning of history into a false argument of ‘how unionism ate my baby‘.

  • Harry

    I will express myself as I see fit my friend. And whatever is written on this page deserves a better quality of response than the one you have provided.

  • slugger ’how unionism ate my baby‘.
    I like this phrase, I have actually written about the Bengal and other famines. The negelct of Croppy’s Acre was a disgrace and so is Wikipedia on PH Pearse.
    The Famine alone is reason Britain has no moral or other authority in Ireland and we all should be paid reparations for it and from every other single act of terrorism from 1169 onwards.
    Criticisms of Loach, the Sindo crowd, the gay bear Wikipedia folk are all attempts to rewrite history and brainwash “the plain people of Ireland”
    Maybe some Irish nationalists lay it on a bit thick on occasion. But out of dissention, good may come. Agreement is impossible as it is in the Holy Land where a gang of bullies (US/Israel/EU) bomb and starve children to provoke violence.
    The six counties is just a microsm of other, greater wrongs. Personally, if the Loach film is provocative, I would like to see it. A gay Casement movie might be in order too, as would one on Kincora.One of the reasons the Troubles happened is because good people did nothing

  • J McConnell

    Harry

    Your numbers are total garbage…

    I have never seen a reputable number greater than one million, and half of that number was a nothing more than an educated guess.

    500K excess deaths from disease. That is a real number. Around 6% to 8% of the census 1841 population assuming a population peak around 1842-43, the second mass emigration from Ireland had already started well before the blight hit. That number is consistent with the last major famine in Europe, the famine in Finland in 1866-68.

    The other ‘missing’ 500K pretty much disappears once if you assume an earlier population peak ’42 rather than ’45, and assume that large numbers of those too poor to buy passage to the Americas crossed the Irish Sea. There is some record of those who crossed to the Americas, there is almost none of all those who crossed the Irish Sea.

    You utterly trivialize the term genocide by using it to describe what happing in Ireland in that terrible decade. It is a gross insult to memory of those who really were murdered in their millions just because of their nationality or religion.

    If the UK government really was intent on genocide (of which there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever) then why did the government of Peel go to such great lengths to bring relief to Ireland that he split his own party, a split which kept the Tories out of power for most of the next 30 years? Seems a strange way to go about a genocide..

    It was the Liberals under Russell who caused the most suffering in Ireland. They believed that the food grown in Ireland should be used to feed the Irish and not exported. Unfortunately not a lot of the Irish farmers who made their living by exporting food agreed with the Russell government at the time, and not a lot of the hungry poor had any money to buy food when it was available. And there was the real tragedy..

  • Brian Boru

    “Some may argue the Famine was necessary to restore population equilibrium to Ireland given that population increased by 13-14% in the first three decades of the 19th century (using Thomas Malthus’s idea of population expanding geometrically, resources increasing arithmetically) nonetheless there is a tendency among Irish historians to dispute this.”

    I find those comments extremely distasteful and perhaps not unlike the attitudes of those in power in London at the time. So no wonder so many starved with an attitude like that. Enough food was exported in 1847 to feed the entire population btw. I think if a politician today were to make remarks such as “the famine in Somalia/Ethiopia etc. is necessary” they would be out on their ear. And rightly so. What a heartless way of analysing the deaths of 1-1.5 million people. Shame!

    “You utterly trivialize the term genocide by using it to describe what happing in Ireland in that terrible decade. It is a gross insult to memory of those who really were murdered in their millions just because of their nationality or religion.”

    It was genocide by inaction and by frustrating the arrival of aid. In the longer term the system of aristocratic landlordism also played a huge factor. People were too oppressed by rack-rents from fatcat landlords to buy food. Ireland was a Third World country because of centuries of British mercantilism and state-imposed serfdom and poverty.

    “It was the Liberals under Russell who caused the most suffering in Ireland. They believed that the food grown in Ireland should be used to feed the Irish and not exported. Unfortunately not a lot of the Irish farmers who made their living by exporting food agreed with the Russell government at the time, and not a lot of the hungry poor had any money to buy food when it was available. And there was the real tragedy.”

    Actually the problem was that the Russell govt refused to stop agricultural exports because of an obsession with the free market and arguably a hatred of the Irish people. The Peel govt before him at least removed the Corn Law import tariffs, but also refused appeals to stop agricultural exports. The experience of the less well-known 1741 famine indicates that had they done this countless lives would have been saved and a huge stain on Britain’s reputation would have been avoided.

    “500K excess deaths from disease. That is a real number. Around 6% to 8% of the census 1841 population assuming a population peak around 1842-43, the second mass emigration from Ireland had already started well before the blight hit. That number is consistent with the last major famine in Europe, the famine in Finland in 1866-68.”

    500,000 is certainly an underestimate. The 1841 census put the Irish population at 8,175,124. Now the 1851 census said 6,552,385. http://homepage.tinet.ie/~cronews//geog/census/popcosum.html That’s a huge loss of 1,622,739. The 1851 census also revealed that by far the hardest class hit in terms of the decline was the population living in one-room huts i.e. the most impoverished. These were obviously the least likely to survive. I conclude at least 1 million deaths. I accept that many of these were due to famine-related diseases rather than actual starvation but they result from the Famine nonetheless.

    The huge number of ghost villages in the West of Ireland are a testament to what happened, as are the skeletons of famine victims that still line parts of the West coast.

  • Doctor Who

    “Actually the problem was that the Russell govt refused to stop agricultural exports because of an obsession with the free market and arguably a hatred of the Irish people. The Peel govt before him at least removed the Corn Law import tariffs, but also refused appeals to stop agricultural exports. The experience of the less well-known 1741 famine indicates that had they done this countless lives would have been saved and a huge stain on Britain’s reputation would have been avoided”

    You see Brian when you do actually debate as opposed to resorting to mopèry, you almost get somewhere.

    I am now resigning from posting on Slugger as I really don´t see the point with trying to engage in debate on a site which is nothing more than a platform for republicans to engage in sectarian hatred.

    I, like the rest of the unionist contributors are going somewhere else where hopfully we can interact with nationalists who wish to debate and not take regular leaps of invention.

    Good night slugger and may the last one to leave please log out.

  • Menace

    Yawn! Arrogant, murderous empire occupy, supress and terrorise an entire nation. Nation fights back, empire recedes, leaving a trail of destruction in its path, empire points at long oppressed nation and says “Oooh dear! Look at those nasty little terrorists in that land. Whatever could have caused that?”… sounds familiar.

  • barnshee

    BB
    “People have a right to withdraw their consent to be governed”

    here here here !! and the prod has permanently withdrawn his/her consent to ge governed by Dublin

  • Menace

    Just like Irish Catholics living in Northern IRELAND have the right to withdraw consent to be governed by the British? And around and around we go…

  • Rory

    I was moved to respond to Doctor Who’s comments on Ireland and India and the ‘illegality’ of an oppressed people’s resistance to its oppressor but both Ciaran Irvine and Shay Begorrah have responded in a much more clear and truthful simple fashion than are within my meagre powers.

    Those who may have read my comments on this site from time to time may have gathered that I am not the greatest fan of Leon Trotsky but I recall him saying in his article Their Morals and Ours (they being international capitalism and ours referring to international socialism) that the moral difference in the application of violence was that while the violence of the oppressor visited upon the oppressed was always immoral, the violence of the oppressed in attempting to overthrow the yoke of the oppressor was always morally justified. Whatever of other differences with Trotsky I may hold, on this I wholeheartedly concur with him.

    I would say, in response to Doctor Who’s justification for British occupation of Ireland that (to paraphrase) “Ireland had MP’s at Westminster – India did not” that it does not matter if Britain had spent all her time in Ireland handing out free bibles, wee sweetie mice and Cliff Richard records, she simply had no right to be there in the first place and it would have been perfectly morally justifiable for an Irish patriot to shoot dead a British agent handing out the sweeties and pop records to Irish children.

    For 800 years the English held Ireland under massive force of arms, with fortified castles at first and then later (and well into the days of representation at an English parliament) with a standing army and a standing, armed police militia in fortified barracks in every townland. Didn’t ever stop us resisting, did it?

    How in the hell the Brits and Yanks think they can subdue Iraq and Afghanistan (and God forbid, Iran) with the tinpot soldiery at their disposal I do not know.

    It is all very well the citizenry being duped into believing their government’s propaganda but when the politicians and generals start acting upon those beliefs as well we are all in for a merry time.

  • Elliot Mitcham

    Rory:

    I myself am of the opinion that anyone who thinks they’re justified in shooting someone who wasn’t doing anything to harm anybody or planning to harm anybody should be the first to go if there’s going to be any shooting. But then again I’m even less of a fan of Trotsky than you are.