Faul on the British…

Dean Godson had an interesting line on Denis Faul last week, in which he notes the consistency in his anti British and then anti IRA stance on Human Rights. He also recalls Faul’s words on how the British love of cricket reflected their approach to deal with armed insurrection by the IRA:

“One thing about the Brits,” he would say. “Just remember, they play cricket. Nice and long and slow.” This observation brought him little pleasure: he felt that though the British State was clever, it had cynically sold out the ordinary decent Catholics for sake of an accommodation with republican fascists. Faul believed that the British State, by unthinkingly accepting trendy narratives of British “oppression”, had actually underrated its own reformist achievements in Northern Ireland. Justice mattered as much, if not more, than Irish unity.

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  • Nevin

    Not just the British it seems …

    [i]
    Ireland’s cricket history
    is an extraordinarily colourful one, peopled by writers such as Joyce, Shaw and Beckett, statesmen such as the Duke of Wellington, John Hume, Charles Stuart Parnell and John Redmond, and personalities such as Lady Gregory, Thomas Andrews and Colin Farrell. [/i]

    Lots of folks failed to read Hume’s single transferable googly!!

  • darth rumsfeld

    As usual Godson’s analysis is head and shoulders above the rest

  • Crateagus

    He believed passionately in Ulster’s superlative grammar school system, and wanted to erect statues in nationalist areas to R. A. Butler, author of the Education Act 1944, on the ground that he had liberated far more poor Catholic youngsters than a host of republican martyrs. He deplored the Blair Government’s decision to phase the local grammars out as another sop to Sinn Fein-IRA.

    That’s an interesting perspective: justice and opportunity mattering more than the national question. Certainly I would agree with that.

    Apart for the British always playing a long game, remember the old saying that its is better to be the enemy of the British than an ally as if you are an enemy they have to buy you off, but if an ally they will eventually sell you out. The game they are playing here is truly cynical and unprincipled. Buy off the thugs who pose a threat and to hell with the rest. In this case a short sighted mistake.

  • willis

    So the obvious tactic is to constantly be the enemy and never agree to be an ally. SF/DUP have got it exactly right!

  • Nevin

    Dean Godson is research director of Policy Exchange. Some folks might like to follow the link to his commentary on an article in Prospect Magazine by Alistair Crooke, a former senior MI6 officer and director of Conflicts Forum:

    [i]One of the greatest problems with semi-official interventions of the kind associated with Crooke and Oatley is that they are often taken by insurgents to represent the “true” view of western states (as opposed to the passing interjections of mere elected politicians). Such “exes” can do great damage, giving insurgents confidence to hold out for more. No wonder the London-based Arabic newspaper Al Quds al Arabi gave Crooke’s interview such prominence.

    Crooke and Oatley are the products of late-imperial British defeatism: an era when the main issue was the terms on which to exit the colonies. That is why the self-confident liberal interventionism of the American neoconservatives poses such a stark challenge. But America, whose decline is far from assured, should tread carefully before embracing the mindset of a country at a different phase in its existence.[/i]

    IMO there exist two schools of thought amongst the political establishments of the UK and Ireland. There are those in sectors such as foreign affairs who believe that extremists can be bought and house-trained and those in home affairs who find themselves in competition with the extremists for the control of people and territory. The extremists prefer to do deals with the former while having a bit of a laugh at their naivity.

  • willis

    Also interesting that the British Press (Including the Times, I assume) initially labelled Msgr Faul “Provo priest”. Now of course they see the error of their ways but keep repeating the same mistake.

  • Mick, so http://del.icio.us/CyberScribe works 🙂

  • mickhall

    Not only is it dangerous to ones cause, but foolish to negotiate with representatives of the British state secretly, as they will 9 out of 10 times betray you, using the get out clause that the politician just would not go for it, la, la, la. Irish history is littered with examples of this, not least the first hunger strikes of the 1980s, let alone the treaty negotiations at the end of the tan war.

    All liberation and radical movements should negotiate publicly for a number of reason; I stress the word negotiate as it is of course appropriate to have off camera talks that lead to public negotiations between the two sides.

    history has taught us that any off camera negotiations always benefits the established partner as they hold all the cards not least venue etc. Even if they need a successful out come the established party will still use such negotiations to poison the well, to split or discredit individuals or the movement the they are negotiating with, they can do this more easily if the negotiations are private as they have ready access to the media to drop lies and innuendoes into the pond whereas their opponents do not.

    It also makes the leaders of the liberation movement believe they are more powerful and in a more advantageous position than they actually are and once these secret negotiations become know publicly[ as they always eventually do], it gives them no other options but to continue them for a host of reasons.

    But most importantly if the radicals demand that all negotiations are open then it places the British government/whoever on the back foot as if they refuse they will be seen as the devious ones.

    Take for example the secret negotiations that led up to the GFA, there was nothing there that SF could not have negotiated out in the open, prisoner releases, ending of the armed struggle, decommissioning, indeed if this had have happened all the distrust on the part of Unionists and within some republican quarters would hopefully have been removed bar from those who base their politics on lies or b i g o t r y alone.

    Regards to All

  • Alan

    *Take for example the secret negotiations that led up to the GFA, there was nothing there that SF could not have negotiated out in the open, prisoner releases, ending of the armed struggle, decommissioning, indeed if this had have happened all the distrust on the part of Unionists and within some republican quarters would hopefully have been removed bar from those who base their politics on lies or b i g o t r y alone. *

    Except that talks would not have started at all. The leaderships’ (plural) legs would have been cut from under them.

  • Reader

    mickhall: Take for example the secret negotiations that led up to the GFA, there was nothing there that SF could not have negotiated out in the open
    Could Gerry really have sold the deal to his constituency if everyone had watched the discussions about On the Runs? Or Joint Authority, or A full Republican Amnesty, or new No Go Areas, or a British Declaration of Intent to Withdraw? Maybe it’s just better to look at the final dinner than watch the cow going through the grinder…

  • mickhall

    Alan,
    Except that talks would not have started at all. The leaderships’ (plural) legs would have been cut from under them.
    Posted by Alan

    alan,
    Then they would deserve for this to happen, as it would prove they had not prepared the ground adequately or did not represent the true views of their membership. Either way it makes one believe Adams and co entered into full negotiations with the Brits far to early and when they did they moved from one crisis to another, in the process running themselves ragged putting out fire’s the British or their acolytes had lit.

    Before you say this is better than carrying on with the war, that would not have been the only option they could have called a ceasefire, even issued the order to dump arms, then prepared the membership before entering full negotiations with the British.

    I notice you do not mention whether public negotiations are a good or bad thing?

    Regards

  • mickhall

    Maybe it’s just better to look at the final dinner than watch the cow going through the grinder…

    Reader

    Not if you are a vegetarian, as it would be uneatable.

  • nutjack

    no, it would still be edible

    a vegetarian would be making a judgement, based upon their own pre-conceived idea of what food actually is

  • Harry Flashman

    “let alone the treaty negotiations at the end of the tan war”

    -Mickhall

    Oh for heaven’s sake the Chucks aren’t still going on about that one are they?

    So let me get this straight, the IRA believed themselves to be the legitimate army of a sovereign state, their representatives in Sinn Fein were the representatives of a sovereign Irish government but somehow the nasty Brits pulled one over on the poor wee lads in the Treaty negotiations?

    Get over it boys, when you play in the big leagues you gotta play by the big boys rules, if you can’t cut it then don’t play the game!

  • mickhall

    “Get over it boys, when you play in the big leagues you gotta play by the big boys rules, if you can’t cut it then don’t play the game!
    Posted by Harry Flashman”

    No Harry, you miss my point, if you play by the rules set in stone by your enemy, you will soon find your arse out of your trousers. To enter into negotiations by first allowing those with whom you negotiate to alone set the terms and place is courting disaster.

    Governments like Blair’s who are always pontificating about democracy would have a real problem in refusing to negotiate in an open and honest manner without any secret clauses or backstage deals. Thus republicans should have demanded they do so and in the process they would have started these talks with the UK government already upon their back foot.

    Mick

  • Harry Flashman

    I actually understand your general point mickhall, though if you had waited for the British to enter public negotiations you’d still be blowing up chunks of English town centres to this day with no prospect of an end and a deeply hostile US government breathing down your neck, I reckon the RM got out when the going was good so they needn’t complain too hard now.

    My post was merely a comment on the sad predeliction among Chucks for complaining about how the dastardly Lloyd George bamboozled them in 1921.

  • PaddyReilly

    While agreeing that we should not harp on past wrongs, the implementation of the Treaty is not something that can be forgotten, because it is still with us.

    The European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act guarantee us that rights and freedoms shall be secured without discrimination on any ground (Article 14) whereas the Treaty and partition have the effect of making such discrimination the foundation of the state. Under the present dispensation Protestants/Unionists have the right to create borders and secede within such borders and Catholics/Nationalists have no such right.

    This fundamental imbalance which has the effect of removing almost all political rights from those discriminated against, is obviously the root cause of all the troubles.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “My post was merely a comment on the sad predeliction among Chucks for complaining about how the dastardly Lloyd George bamboozled them in 1921.”

    I have to say I agree with you here Harry. It’s naive to criticise Lloyd George for having played defended his own country’s interests in negotiation. Yes, the moral force was with the Irish delegation, but to cry foul at Lloyd George defending the British wicket so well simply demonstrates a lack of understanding of the dynamic of power. Any leader will look to his own people’s interests first, even if he actually believes the other crowd have an objectively better case.

    It’d be like Fermanagh fans complaining about Armagh beating them at Clones yesterday, on the grounds that Fermanagh have never won an Ulster title, deinitely deserve one, and everyone would love to see them finally do it. Meanwhile Armagh are going for three-in-a-row, and six out of eight, and certainly don’t NEED another Ulster title. But that’s not how it works in football or in politics.

    (This is only a metaphor by the way – I’m not suggesting that anyone in Fermanagh is actually saying this.)

    The Irish delegation in 1921 screwed up their strategy by making the Oath, and not partition, the deal-breaker. The outside world would have understood the concept of the integrity of the national territory, and would have understood the new Free State’s reluctance to having an Alsace-Lorraine situation on the island of Ireland. The disaster that the new Northern Ireland state would become could have been easily predictable. Partition was the issue which had real substance – but the entirely symbolic issue of the Oath was one that few outsiders could have understood. It was an issue that enraged a nation that had the blood up, but history has demonstrated that though the issue of the Oath was emotive, it wasn’t really anywhere near as onjectively important as it must have seemed at the time.

    Ireland needed cooler heads, who could have pursued a dispassionate strategy in the negotiations. Like DeV, for example, the man with whom negotiating was described by Churchill as “like trying to lift mercury with a fork”. (DeValera’s response was: “Only a fool would try to lift mercury with a fork. You should try using a spoon.”)

    Who knows what might have been achievable if Ireland’s negotiating team had performed better in 1921? A united republic? Unlikely, but a better Treaty? Undoubtedly.

    Either way, it’s naive and pointless to condemn Lloyd George for having run rings around Our Boys.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Flashman: “My post was merely a comment on the sad predeliction among Chucks for complaining about how the dastardly Lloyd George bamboozled them in 1921. ”

    No one got “bamboozled” in 1921. If anything, the acknowledge their own weak hand and made the best deal they could make as they perceived it.

    Instead, the hard realities were accounted for and a treaty based upon that. The Unionist crowd had already let it be known they would fight to stay in the Union and Britain lacked the political will to find out if that was a bluff or not. Idealism is lovely, but there comes a time when it must give way to realpolitik. The options were go back to war, a non-starter, accept a transitional step that would allow greater aspirations or push for a new war in the North.

  • Harry

    If the irish had stayed unified we could not have been beaten. It would have required a vietcong level of single-mindedness though which was lacking, overborne instead by the petty bourgeois considerations of the same kind of people now so prominent in the ranks of the southern middle-management pygmies. The result was a stunted country and the fatally compromised potential still evident today.

    On another point, Godson in that article says:

    And he [Faul] would have been unsurprised by allegations that Martin McGuinness was a British agent: he had claimed as much to me more than five years ago.

    Is this not an extraordinary thing to say? Has no-one picked him up on this?

    All in all the article reads like a shallow-headed piece of pro-brit propaganda.

  • Betty Boo

    Harry,
    “All in all the article reads like a shallow-headed piece of pro-brit propaganda.”
    I wouldn’t necassary call it pro- brit propaganda and even less an article but someone seems to keep on milking. A bit like making endless excuses for leaving when you have to go for you own sick but knowing you are stil wanted to stay.

  • “Don’t trust the Brits, they invented Cricket”

  • Harry

    Obviously it’s pro-brit Betty. The only words out of 900 words which refer to Faul’s opposition to the british are: Faul vaulted to prominence in the British press in the 1970s, acquiring the soubriquet of the “Provo padre”, for his exposure of security force excesses. (25 words). The other 875 words are about how Faul persuaded others of the error of irish republicanism. Unionism (Godson) and the conservative irish clergy (Faul) ganging up again to justify enervating irish self-assertion and attempting to reduce it to passivity. And all the while the poor plucky brits guilty only of ‘excesses’ while the irish are guilty of murder.

    Tiresome bollox.

  • Betty Boo

    And it is rather remarkable that his juicy bits, so well held back for the last 20-30 years, come out now, after he is buried.
    Maybe there was no use for them earlier.