“On the cusp of a bright shiny new future for Northern Ireland..”

One of the dangers of adopting the manner of a “well-behaved witness” is, as Davy Adams identified in the Irish Times today, that false, or partial, narratives may go unchallenged. [subs req]

But it is the building of separate, partial histories by the two traditional tribes in Ireland that causes the real damage. Each tends towards a one-eyed view of the past that sees only the positive on one side and the negative on the other, and ignores the bits that do not suit particular prejudices. It is up to us whether this is indeed a bright new dawn or merely an interlude that is used to build up trouble for the future. If it is to be the former, then we need to dispense with our tendency towards monochrome history and deal honestly and openly with the past.

He gives an example of one of the narratives he has in mind

Thanks to a concerted attempt by various commentators and “historians” to rewrite history, many young people believe that the Provisional IRA’s campaign was driven primarily, if not exclusively, by the lofty aim of winning basic civil rights for the Catholic population in Northern Ireland.

According to this new narrative, only when those rights had been secured did the IRA feel able to end its violence. Neatly avoided is any explanation why, if that was indeed the case, the IRA did not cease its activities in 1974.

By then the old Stormont regime had been closed down and virtually every demand of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association had been met, yet the IRA campaign continued for another 20-odd years.

The truth is the IRA used the wholly legitimate grievances of Northern Catholics as an excuse to embark on a violent campaign aimed at forcing Northern Ireland into a 32-county unitary state against the democratically expressed wishes of a majority of its people.

The IRA’s campaign ended, not because it had achieved its primary goal but, rather, because it had signally failed to do so. Moreover, the violence had in fact become counter-productive.

Republican talk of an “equality agenda” only came very late in the day – long after it had been delivered by the SDLP – when, in order to get off the hook of conflict, it was decided to replace an unachievable objective with one that had already been secured. A carefully cultivated political mandate gave most republican activists a welcome exit route from a hopeless, self-perpetuating struggle that was going nowhere.

And on the temptation to be a well-behaved witness..

On the cusp of a bright shiny new future for Northern Ireland, the temptation is to ignore the revisionists and spare oneself the bother and the boredom of having to trample back and forth over old ground.

Except in the new historical narrative where republicans are idealistic battlers for the rights of the oppressed, unionists are conveniently cast as the villains of the piece and, for the most part, authors of their own misfortune.

The inference is that the conflict lasted only as long as unionists resisted delivering on an “equality agenda”. This sidesteps the fact that from the time Stormont was closed in 1972 the unionists were powerless to deliver on anything. Any true account of the Troubles could only determine that unionism was far from blameless, particularly in regard to anti-Catholic discrimination.

But it was how unionists voted, not how they acted, that provoked the ire of physical force republicanism. Most of us in Ireland, whether Northerner or Southerner and irrespective of religious or political affiliation, are past masters at presenting “history” not as it was but as we would like it to have been. We are adept at the expunging of retrospective “non-conformists” from the tribal pantheon.

In this way, the Presbyterians of the United Irishmen have been almost completely erased from the collective memory of Northern Protestants because their beliefs and actions do not fit with contemporary political opinion.

But it is the building of separate, partial histories by the two traditional tribes in Ireland that causes the real damage. Each tends towards a one-eyed view of the past that sees only the positive on one side and the negative on the other, and ignores the bits that do not suit particular prejudices. It is up to us whether this is indeed a bright new dawn or merely an interlude that is used to build up trouble for the future. If it is to be the former, then we need to dispense with our tendency towards monochrome history and deal honestly and openly with the past.

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  • SuperSoupy

    What a load of nonsense. No one claims the IRA armed campaign was about civil rights. No one claims it was ended as rights were achieved.

    It was about ending British rule in Ireland and it was abandoned in favour of political methods of achieving that aim.

    The only revisionism demonstrated in the article is his own. Civil rights issues were a symptom of the problem, the reduction of those abuses with other majorbmoves made a political path towards unity appear open and it was siezed.

  • BP1078

    SS
    Any more “spastic” jokes?

  • Pete Baker

    BP

    Can we keep to the topic of this post, please?

  • Cahal

    “What a load of nonsense. No one claims the IRA armed campaign was about civil rights. No one claims it was ended as rights were achieved. ”

    I agree. My parents and their friends are mostly SDLP types, my siblings and their friends are mostly SF voters. I’ve never heard this claim made by any of them. They would probably universally agree on the aims of the IRA – a 32 county republic free of British interference.

    That’s not to say they’d all agree with the means that the IRA resorted to, to achieve that end – in fact the vast majority of them would not. Myself included.

    Anyway, perhaps the most important civil right, the right to national self-determination has forever been stripped from the Irish people.

    We’ll just have to deal with that and beat them at their own game i.e. out vote them in their own phoney state.

  • SuperSoupy

    Sorry, only the one. Not being a MENSA member I’m not clever enough to create another one. (now clear off and troll some one that gives a feck)

  • slug

    I do think that Davy’s points about wanting to bring both sides of the community together, so that we do move on to a better brighter future are spot on.

  • Bp1078

    Pete,
    Sorry.

  • BP1078

    SS
    Never prejudge..you’ve just showed yourself up.

  • Sean

    Pete

    Your post in itself is ample proof that each side sees it own differently

    You cast a very jaundiced on on the IRA

    While wholey ignoring the Loyalist crimes and casting them as hapless victims

  • SuperSoupy

    While disagreeing with a large chunk of the piece which is using an unfounded and wrong anti-Republican example as the core of an argument, I do think the points of differing histories are valid.

    I obtained my school history in the Catholic maintained sector and even there modern history stopped at 1916 for Ireland while continuing up to and beyond WWII for the rest of the world. Recently another contributor informed me that major events in Irish history like the flight of the Earls werren’t taught at his school.

    A factual presentation of all Irish history including modern history from a purely factual position should be key to all education.

  • IJP

    Sean

    It is quite reasonable to say the IRA caused outrageous and unnecessary suffering for no purpose whatsoever. That is simply the case. You don’t have to keep cross-referencing Loyalists when you do so.

    Your post says a lot more about one-sided attitudes than Pete’s does.

  • SuperSoupy

    IJP,

    That simply isn’t the case. There was a very clear and continually articulated purpose to IRA armed struggle.

    Your post is demonstrating the application of spin to historical fact also.

    Anyone going to join me in my attempt to discuss the actual article and issues raised?

  • German-American

    Maybe my memory is faulty, but I recall that the revisionism that Davy Adams decries was also espoused by people unsympathetic to republicans, who claimed that the IRA’s stated goal of a united Ireland was simply a pose, and that in reality the IRA were at best “Catholic defenders” and at worst simply sectarian murderers and gangsters. In what’s quoted of the article (I don’t have access to the whole piece) Adams seems to be absolving the IRA of the charge of insincerity and instead accusing it of incompetence.

  • BP1078

    There’s an interesting common project going on in France and Germany at the minute, were their joint *history* between 1918-1939 is being analysed by historians from both countries and they are attempting to reach some kind of common
    consensus.

    There is no reason why something similar couldn’t be attempted in NI, the key though is how much do you want to compromise your view of history- for the average German or French student, there isn’t
    the same fear of losing their *identity* if too much is *given* towards the other side, Alsac-Lorraine or Strasbourg will be staying French whatever interpretation of joint history is finally arrived at.

  • SuperSoupy

    This is a turning into a wonderful example of the separate history and partiality that is central to the piece.

    By using an inaccurate example about the IRA as the core example discussion turns to ‘those bloody Republicans’ from across the political spectrum with no attempt to address the central point that is directed at all.

  • SuperSoupy

    BP,

    Interesting point but very few of us get our history from academia.

    For me, before reading myself into topics of interest I received most history at school, a little at home and a good bit from television.

    I’d be interested to hear how modern Irish history is currently taught in schools.

    In my youth the Catholic sector seemed to ignore much of modern Irish history – I think this may have been for fear it could ‘Republicanise’ young minds.

    At ‘O’ level the exams had a distinctly British focus over Irish history despite both being intertwined on this Island.

    Does this continue? Is modern Irish history over-looked for possible political reasons (hopefully outdated but always illegitimate reasons) in the education sector? Or is a more mature depoliticised presentation of history now the norm in the curriculum?

    (I know you may not have the answers but I’m sure sluggers has a history teacher or two out there)

  • kokane

    Historical viewpoint is driven by ideology which simply filters the facts to suit. There is no chance of historical unity as long as the ideologies of unionism and nationalism are stil battling for supremacy. Neither community will give up one of their main weapons for recruitment and justification.

  • BP1078

    I was fortunate to have a bit of maverick history teacher who constantly challenged our preconceptions about our own background and history.

    Generally though within the state sector, I think teachers tended to play safe, concentrating on what was needed to get you through the various examinations, shying away from anything that might provoke more questions or debate. But I think that’s more a fault of the teaching system rather than any inherent bias, teachers simply don’t have the time or motivation to push their students out of the comfort zone and this is as true in the area of literature as it is in history.

  • SuperSoupy

    My history teacher was a well known Republican. He taught us the cirriculum we needed to pass our exam. It had a massive focus on British history alongside broader world history. IIRC that huge chunk of shared history for both British and Irish pre-partition was largely ignored by the local examination board favouring things that were mostly England based.

    The Irish history element was given prior to starting the exam based teaching in 3rd form and even then the school seemed to ignore anything getting close to modern Irish histroy north or south.

    Instead of the Franco/German discussion on how it should be taught, I’m more interested to know if it is being taught.

  • Forecast

    SS – ‘There was a very clear and continually articulated purpose to IRA armed struggle.’

    Yea, changed every few years, and then got thrown in the bin, but at the time it was clear and articulate.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Gerry Adams has already made several attempts to portray himself, wrongly, as a key member of the Civil Rights Association.

  • SuperSoupy

    SSR,

    Provide a link or a reference to back that up and you won’t be guilty of what the article writes about – revisionism (I prefer to call it telling lies).

  • The Dubliner

    [i]”Thanks to a concerted attempt by various commentators and “historians” to rewrite history, many young people believe that the Provisional IRA’s campaign was driven primarily, if not exclusively, by the lofty aim of winning basic civil rights for the Catholic population in Northern Ireland.

    According to this new narrative, only when those rights had been secured did the IRA feel able to end its violence. Neatly avoided is any explanation why, if that was indeed the case, the IRA did not cease its activities in 1974.

    By then the old Stormont regime had been closed down and virtually every demand of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association had been met, yet the IRA campaign continued for another 20-odd years.

    The truth is the IRA used the wholly legitimate grievances of Northern Catholics as an excuse to embark on a violent campaign aimed at forcing Northern Ireland into a 32-county unitary state against the democratically expressed wishes of a majority of its people.” – Davy Adams[/i]

    I don’t think anyone of sound mind sees PIRA as a bunch of Martin Luther King clones with M16s – the alleged aim precludes the preferred methods. But Davy Adams is correct to say that a civil rights spin is being put on a campaign that was marked by dismal failure and appalling abuses of the human and civil rights of others by PSF/PIRA. I wish he’d name and shame those is referring to, as I don’t see anyone doing it except PSF and their apologists and promotionists. PSF/PIRA need to tell those dumb enough to vote for them that they actually achieved something for them other than 40 years of poverty and misery and a strengthening of the position of Northern Ireland within the UK.

    I think he is wrong to see reunification as being the aim of PIRA and its sponsors. Some republicans undoubtedly had that aim and seized upon the civil strife to effect a violent campaign (along with a barrage of crackpot Marxist agitators, assorted ne’er-do-wells, and violent sociopaths who saw an opportunity to empower themselves), but very few of PIRA’s supporters shared it. PIRA, essentially, was a militant nationalist protest movement; a means of releasing pent-up cathartic hatred of the unionists and the British; an expression of defiance; a quasi-vigilant organisation; a self-sustaining cult of martyrdom, oppression and mythology, and a means by which the sociopaths who orchestrated the violence could achieve social status and political power – lots of complex dynamics interplaying. For nationalists, calling the violence ‘republican’ meant that they didn’t have to face up to their own deep-rooted sectarianism as manifested in PIRA. Only by that pretence (and that ‘respectability’) could they continue to pass themselves off as oppressed victims rather than violent sectarian oppressors and people who were engaged in a campaign of the denial of civil and human rights to the people on the other side of the sectarian divide. The most convincing lies are always told by people who have convinced themselves of the ‘truth’ of the lie before telling it to others.

    Self-determination was a key part of their mythology. Self-determination is not the same thing as independence – even the Easter Proclamation accepted that. And national self-determination was already achieved by the Irish, who nationally determined that they would accept a 26-county settlement and seeking the other 6 counties by agreement with either the Unionists or the British government by political and not violent means. Ireland achieved self-determination but did not declare full independence until 1949. The people of the north achieved self-determination at the same point in history as the people of the south, so nationalists always had self-determination.

    In 1922, the Unionists already had the Principle of Consent – they opted out of unity then but could have opted back in up until 1949 (i.e. the decision wasn’t the British government’s). Essentially, we’re back with the same deal. And just as back then, the same reason for partition applies: to keep the genie of civil war and ethnic cleansing in its bottle. All PSF/PIRA could have achieved was what was avoided in 1922 – bringing that genie of civil war and ethnic cleansing back out of its bottle. So, even if PSF/PIRA were successful in forcing British withdrawal (and they didn’t have a hope in hell), all they would have actually achieved by their demented campaign was a sectarian bloodbath and a place in historical infamy.

    Just as they couldn’t force British withdrawal, neither could the deranged sociopaths force the north to be integrated with the south. So, in terms of plan, what plan? A man might call himself Casanova and bragg of being a great lover of women, but if all he has ever done is fuck pigs in a sty, then others will right call him a pig-fucker and not what he calls himself. So it is with PSF/PIRA.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Soupy:

    There was a very clear and continually articulated purpose to IRA armed struggle.

    Run that past me again. Complete in your own words “The Enniskillen bomb was detonated because ..”. I’m awaiting your reply, but, fortunately, not with baited breath, lest I may breathe my last.

    SRR:

    Gerry Adams has already made several attempts to portray himself, wrongly, as a key member of the Civil Rights Association.

    Quite correct.

    Soupy, you may want to read Mark Davenport’s book on Gerry Adams. He observes Gerry Adams writing in a very different way about the same events in his earlier book “The Politics of Irish Freedom” (now out of print) and “Before the Dawn”. I haven’t yet been able to obtain a copy of “The Politics of Irish Freedom”, it’s a great shame that Adams doesn’t see fit to continue publishing his earlier literary works, I wonder why.

  • Sean

    Sean

    It is quite reasonable to say the IRA caused outrageous and unnecessary suffering for no purpose whatsoever. That is simply the case. You don’t have to keep cross-referencing Loyalists when you do so.

    Your post says a lot more about one-sided attitudes than Pete’s does.

    It is quite reasonable to say the IRA caused outrageous and unnecesary suffering, what is not reasonable is to not say that the unionists caused outrageous and unnecesary suffering as well

  • Comrade Stalin

    Regarding the subject of the article, Davy Adams writes a respectable and thought-provoking article. I wish all unionists took this perspective, we might move further on a lot faster.

    Republicans criticizing this article appear to lack the critical faculty of introspection. Adams, throughout his article, openly concedes that unionists did a bad job, and he concedes that this fuelled the conflict. When are republicans going to accept that they fuelled, rather than merely responded to, the problems that were faced ? Going by the responses in this thread, it seems they are not yet ready to grasp the true spirit of reconciliation.

  • SuperSoupy

    CS,

    I have those books. Direct me to the page where Adams claims he was a key figure in the CRM. Cheers.

    I’m sure others have the books too and can read themselves.

    Which page?

  • Roisin

    SuperSoupy,

    My experience of the history I was taught at Catholic school was similar. Home Rule, 1916 and Partition were covered, very briefly, and then it was onwards with the Liberal reforms, the Bolsheviks, the rise of Fascism in Europe, and so on.

    The only thing of significance was that our class asked for more and the teacher said that’s all that was on the syllabus.

    English literature was treated the same way. Completely English-centric, with the only exception being Singe’s Playboy of the Western World.

  • SuperSoupy

    Roisin,

    I can only remember one Irish literature element during my entire school days – Juno and the Paycock but I enjoyed the additional but not taught The Plough and Stars at the back of the school copy much more. We got a minimum of a Shakespeare a year and a shit load of WWI war poetry. Heaney, no chance – comparing English war poets 6 months worth.

  • Roisin

    Souper,

    Same thing. Not a single Irish poet, not even Yeats. Months spent comparing Owen, Auden and Kipling. Shakespeare every year, Dickens, the Bronte sisters. I used English class to catch up on my sleep. Put me off reading for years.

  • SuperSoupy

    Roisin,

    As I asked before, I wonder if it is still the case.

    D Adams above is questioning ‘partial’ history.

    It seems that the Catholic experience of history and literature was/is(?) weighted towards Anglophile attitudes our in schools.

    No proof of Nationalist spin in the piece though it presents a very questionable anti-Republican example. Maybe Davey doesn’t realise how the cirriculum works?

  • SuperSoupy

    Also:

    Suffrajets, part of the history cirriculum.

    Constance Markiewicz, never heard of her.

  • Roisin

    As part of Irish class in first form we were asked to do a project on Irish names. I went to the main library to look for books, and not able to find any asked for help from the librarian. The looks I got from these two women were something else. First they looked at me like I’d just gotten off a spacecraft, and after one of them showed me to the Irish section, all of about half a dozen books, they took it in turns to walk past my aisle giving me dirty looks. I’m sure the shelves in the Irish section are bursting now.

    There was nothing useful there, but in searching for books of older relatives I managed to get hold of a little book called Two Centuries of Irish History, published in 1906 and edited by Tim Healy. I’ve since lost my copy, which I regret as it’s out of print and very difficult to get hold of, usually only kept in reference sections of large libraries. It’s a collection of essays, from about 1690 to 1890, stuff on the Whiteboys, Peep O’ Day Boys, Defenders, Orange, League of Teagues, AOH, Fenians, Famine, even Boycott. There’s an interesting story about an English landlord who kept hunting dogs half-starved. As well he had a pet gorilla that he allowed to freely roam that used to hang off the ledges and piss on the dogs below. One night the gorilla fell from a ledge and the dogs tore it to pieces.

  • Wilde Rover

    I’m sorry Pete I’m a little confused.

    Are you presenting this article as an example of the very malaise it purports to diagnose?

    If so, interesting tactic, but a little too cryptic for my tastes.

    However, if this post is to be taken at face value then I must say it’s a little disappointing.

    The article you cite quite rightly brings up the subject of the republican spin machine trying to associate any arguable justification of militant republicanism under Stormont with the subsequent twenty years of pointless depressing utter folly under direct rule.

    The supposedly balanced piece ends up wandering into unionism’s need to get in touch with its Inner Tone.

    That’s not one eyed it’s cross eyed.

    It discusses a very real spin situation and then completely undermines the very premise it’s trying to advance by wandering off on an historical tangent to nowhere.

    How about seriously coupling collective republican amnesia re post-Fall of Stormont with collective unionist amnesia re pre-Fall of Stormont?

    And as for “far from blameless,” that sort of ultra minimalism is as myopic as the “Every Provo ever honourable and true” business emanating elsewhere.

    Honestly Pete if you aren’t being ironic you’ve picked a howler.

    It would be unfortunate if your posts degenerated into something like the inane PR machine fodder coming from other elements.

  • The Penguin

    Wilde Rover

    I think you are being a little too harsh. In my reading of the whole article it appears Adams is concerned with how we all treat history and mould it to suit ourselves and the damage this can cause in a society of competing loyalties. Laid out below is his pointing to two examples of where, even within the tribes, historical events have been dumped as though they didn’t happen. This is legitimate comment. I think he is saying that we should at least recognise these things as having happened.
    But he makes clear it is the separate partial histories that concern him. One such history, or myth, is being constructed as we speak so his overall point is timely and well made.

    “We are adept at the expunging of retrospective “non-conformists” from the tribal pantheon.

    In this way, the Presbyterians of the United Irishmen have been almost completely erased from the collective memory of Northern Protestants because their beliefs and actions do not fit with contemporary political opinion.

    Likewise, until very recently in the Republic, the bravery and sacrifice of many thousands of Southern Irishmen in two World Wars was considered an embarrassment.

    But it is the building of separate, partial histories by the two traditional tribes in Ireland that causes the real damage.”

  • Flyer

    Sean

    “It is quite reasonable to say the IRA caused outrageous and unnecesary suffering, what is not reasonable is to not say that the unionists caused outrageous and unnecesary suffering as well”

    Some unionists caused outrageous and unnecessary suffering. Most unionists, as with most nationalists, did not. It is wrong to apportion blame to people for violent acts they disagreed with just because those who did them shared their view on the border. I would not dream of saying that everyone who disagrees with vivisection is guilty for the bombings of the ALF.

  • IJP

    SuperSoupy

    Given your response to my post, care to actually answer Comrade‘s question?

  • IJP

    That’s what the article is all about, btw.

  • kokane

    The Provos did the most killing – as they were fighting a war and aiming to change the status quo – then you might expect that. Some of their choice of targets during the war had a distinctly unwar like flavour. For instance shooting off duty policemen in front of their families when there were plenty of on duty British soldiers avialble if you wanted to do the war thing properly. Whatever loyalists or British Army etc did is that is a separate matter – Republican should account and explain THEIR actions. I assume there must a high level of discomfort for Republicans in what went on and this should be expressed rather than simply saying “the other side was worse”.

  • Sean

    Flyer

    Some unionists caused outrageous and unnecessary suffering. Most unionists, as with most nationalists, did not. It is wrong to apportion blame to people for violent acts they disagreed with just because those who did them shared their view on the border. I would not dream of saying that everyone who disagrees with vivisection is guilty for the bombings of the ALF.

    Then why are all nationalists and especially all SFers branded as terrorists in the unionist community. The premise I think you are putting across is that people can support an ideal with out being attached to the outrages of other fellow supporters? Then why in your community is there a continual haranguing of SF as terrorists.

  • Sean

    Kokane

    War has moved on from the time when 2 armies stood across from each other in colourfull uniforms and shot,stabbed or slashed their enemy into submision. The IRA was only able to run a guerilla war because their numbersa were relatively small and guerilla war is the ugliest kind of war there is. Its about results not epic battles or heroes, the IRA produced results and unfortunately had to do some ugly things to do it

  • Perhaps Davy Adams might care to produce some statistical data to support his assertion that

    “many young people believe that the Provisional IRA’s campaign was driven primarily, if not exclusively, by the lofty aim of winning basic civil rights for the Catholic population in Northern Ireland”.

    I can honestly say that I do not know a single person who remotely believes any such thing. Complete and utter hogwash Davy…

    The campaign was about ending British rule in Ireland. Full stop.

    Davy might also care to reveal whom EXACTLY he is referring to when he states “Thanks to a concerted attempt by various commentators and “historians” to rewrite history”. But somehow I doubt it…

  • kokane

    Sean,

    “Then why are all nationalists and especially all SFers branded as terrorists in the unionist community”

    SF are the largest Nationalist party – the IRA command structure is still intact in some shape or form – they only ditched their guns a few weeks ago. From the Unioinst side of the fence – if the Provos were terrorists ( a view not shared by SF voters and many nationalists) would then seem reasonable to assume that the people who vote their political associates in must at least sympathise with what went on.

    The UDP PUP get bugger all votes – Unionists have logic on their side in this arguement. The problem revolves round the old chestnut one mans freedom fighter is another mans terrorist.

  • Sean

    That is a complete load of bollocks kokane

    So the Ian Paisley is a murderer because the murderers voted him in?

  • kokane

    Sean,

    “So the Ian Paisley is a murderer because the murderers voted him in?”

    ???

    I think you may have missed the point.

    If a party is associated with – from a Unionist point of veiw what is a ‘terrorist campaign’ – and the people vote them in – then there may be a reasonable assumption that the people at least sympathised with the ‘terrorist campaign’.

    I dont think however that most nationalists see the IRA campaign as a terrorist one.

  • Dissenter

    The problem for me with this type of discussion is that it always re-enforces that which divides us rather than the shared culture that unites us…maybe when I was growing up in the late 70’s, I was fortunate to fall in with a bunch of Belfastians, from all kinds of backgrounds, who didn’t give a flying **** about religion and felt no affinity with either the Paisleyites, the paramilitaries, the Shinners or any of the other tribal ballix that everyone in Northern Ireland supposedly subscribes to…I know so many people who feel like this but it seems we’re ignored because we haven’t come up with our own flag yet! The type of folk I’m talking about take huge pride in Ulster’s rural beauty, sense of humour, music, down-to-earth attitude etc etc…is it so hard to understand that someone can be Ulster to the bone but still not feel that they have to tow the party line of Nationalism or Unionism??

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Sean: ”Its about results not epic battles or heroes, the IRA produced results and unfortunately had to do some ugly things to do it”

    If by results you mean mangled bodies on pavements and endless premature funerals for both sides, then yeah I agree with you Sean.

    If you mean ‘political’ results, perhaps you could enlighten us.

    It’s painfully clear that (as stated previously) post 1974 the provo campaign was about nothing more than psychopathic bloodlust and twisted martyrdom in the pursuit of a goal that was clearly unachievable by violent means. The ‘results’ were a huge pile of bodies, a gigantic waste of money and the aspiration of a united Ireland set back decades.

  • kokane

    Sean: ‘Its about results not epic battles or heroes, the IRA produced results and unfortunately had to do some ugly things to do it’

    I think this is pretty limp – there were choices to be made on the ground and some of these choices should be explained by Republicans. The current leadership of SF probably took some/most of these choices. I would like to know why they thought it neccesary to shoot elderly retired UDR men in front of their families.

    I am a SF supporter but not an uncritical one and would really like to hear Grizzly or Martin etc tell it as it was.

  • Wilde Rover

    The Penguin

    “Likewise, until very recently in the Republic, the bravery and sacrifice of many thousands of Southern Irishmen in two World Wars was considered an embarrassment.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    The likes of Brendan “Spitfire Paddy” Finucane, youngest wing commander in the RAF, who shot down sixteen Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighters with the Australian squadron over seven weeks during the Battle of Britain at the tender age of twenty-one have never been acknowledged by the general public in the Republic.

  • Sean

    If by results you mean mangled bodies on pavements and endless premature funerals for both sides, then yeah I agree with you Sean

    By results I mean and end to a protestant parliament for a protestant people, gerrymandering, no irish need apply, ruc, rir etc etc.

    the english government clearly did not care about the hardships and lack of civil rights of the Catholic population until it was brought to their attention via the world media and then only tried to stick plasters on gaping wounds. It might have not been their stated goal but it was the result

    think this is pretty limp – there were choices to be made on the ground and some of these choices should be explained by Republicans. The current leadership of SF probably took some/most of these choices. I would like to know why they thought it neccesary to shoot elderly retired UDR men in front of their families

    let me ask this question. Why did the securocrats find it necesary to shoot Finucane at his dinner table? or Blow up nelson in her car on her street?

    Theres plenty of dirty hands to go around and I am not saying the IRA is clean but the unionists have to accept their shitty hands as well

  • The Penguin

    Wilde Rover
    “Likewise, until very recently in the Republic, the bravery and sacrifice of many thousands of Southern Irishmen in two World Wars was considered an embarrassment.”

    The above is a direct quote from the Adams article that sits alongside the Presbyterian United Irishmen one as examples of our selective historical memory.

  • kokane

    Sean,

    There are a whole lot of legitimate questions for the ‘other’ side. Regarding the killings you mention there is actually a public enquiry being set up by the Englezes into them.

    I want to know about ‘my’ side and what was done in the name of Ireland.

  • Sean

    kokane There are a whole lot of legitimate questions for the ‘other’ side. Regarding the killings you mention there is actually a public enquiry being set up by the Englezes into them

    What you say is true but as the powers that be are doing there best to limit access and powers to these commitees what will come out of them? Are not MI5 and the police even right now vigorously shredding the secret files they got back from the Stevens Enquiry? And these are the forces of Law and Order? What incentive is there for a private organization to participate fully in an enquiry? With out the full co-operation of the IRA how will there be a complete invesatigation inot the IRA?

    Its silly to equate the investigation of a private organization with the investigation of a corrupt governmental body

  • Wilde Rover

    The original point is that the article itself fails to grasp the nettle i.e. the annoying Stormont Era question.

    I probably was being too harsh though.

    Still, best to keep everyone on their toes ;-0

  • kokane

    Sean,
    I am saying these things are separate – dont equate them – my questions were adressed to SF. You introduced state/loyalist violence.

    Antime these questions are asked someone says ( and in this case the someone is you ) what about the ‘other’ side.

    We dont need a public enquiry for Republicans to explain to us why certain people were legitimate targets. Grizzly, Martin can you tell us for example why retired members of the UDR were so considered? How do you now feel about having such a policy?

    And we dont want to hear the trite lines about “war is dirty business” – as war is also a decisions business.

  • Sean

    the IRA I assume, as i am not a member, cosidered any member of the security forces as a legitimate target retired or not

  • The Third Policeman

    SuperSoupy,

    I’ve just finished my history A level there last year. We did plenty of Irish history but only as far as 1900. We covered the period 1770-1800 in detail with its reforms and rebellion. Then we did nationalism in the 19th centuary (Emmett, YIs and Fenians, O’Connell, Butt and Parnell, GAA, Gaelic League and other culteral movements). That was it for Irish history but Im told the school (a Catholic Grammar) is now teaching partition and civil war as well. We were encouraged to question the myths of what we thought we knew but at the same time our teacher was a good solid umm.. constitutional Republican (she took great pride in being able to name all the people in a photo of a nationalist riot back when we learnt about the Troubles in GCSE).

    The whole thing however was a quite sterile and bred an atmosphere where any republicanism was to be strictly discouraged. During European language week in my second year there were displays on the languages taught by the school, (French, German, Spanish and Irish). After the second day the tricolour on the Irish display was removed for fear of upsetting anyone. Aye right. Last year the principle asked me and my friends to remove our Easter lilies. Didn’t happen though. I think he recognised me as the young fella with the ma who called in to complain about ‘United Kingdom’ on our address on my report card. Haha.

    In the end though I think it was simply just a very snobby school more than anything else (we always saw it as a throw back to the days when a Catholic school had to ‘rise’ above its culteral identity in order to be accepted in higher circles).

    English lit was a pure joke, not in any anti nationalist conspiracy but because it was taught without that fierce passion that’s needed to make poetry and literature come alive. Imagine learning Funeral Blues and never being told about Auden’s private life?! Comparing Shakespeares’ Macbeth to Polanskis’ without mentioning Manson!? If tv is the cancer to young people’s love of reading then surely a course in English lit is the coffee eneama. That is, painful, uncomfortable and utterly useless.

    I would never say that the nationality of the author is a neccessity to enjoying literature but when teaching a class full of GAA culchies and bogtrotters who couldn’t give a toss about whether or not Lady Macbeth ever gets her hand clean or not surely it would be smart to first teach them to appreciate their own national treasures. Joyce is out of course, imagine getting ‘analyse the themes of Finnegan’s Wake’ in your exam! Jesus you’d start to weep. Hell I couldn’t even finish Ulysses. But why not Brendan Behan, Oscar Wilde, Samual Beckett. What’s wrong with Yeats and Kavanagh? Hell, what about my own favourite, the genius that is Flann O’Brien? At Swim Two Birds is a thousand million times better than anything a hack such as Shakespeare ever threw together!

    Of course if I was Ard Rí na hÉireann, and God willing some day I will be, I’d be captivating students with books that’d interest them, ‘On the Road’ and ‘Fear and Loathing’ with plenty of Bob Dylan song lyrics for the poety to cement the whole thing together.

    Actually the real worry is the neglecting of Irish myths and legends at primary school level. its a crime that I had to teach my little brother about things like Fionn mac Cumhaill, the Buile Shuibhne and Tír na nÓg. And of course our precious urban myths like Bloody Mary…ooooh…. ahem.

  • SuperSoupy

    TTP,

    Thanks for that.

    This is where I think a discussion on history should be based before moving on to D Adams’ stuff on separate or partial histories: The shared Irish history that didn’t stop being shared at partition. I feel the same about literature.

    If the Irish elements are dimished or given a reduced focus due to schools being part of British cirriculum based education systems it is the starting point for divergent historical interpretations.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”By results I mean and end to a protestant parliament for a protestant people, gerrymandering, no irish need apply, ruc, rir etc etc.”

    Sean those first three had all disappeared by 1974, yet the provos kept blasting away for 20 more miserable years.
    I don’t get the RUC inclusion as, shortly after declaring that PSNI = RUC, SF are now saying that they’re just fine. So what ‘results’ are you referring to here?
    Face it, the provo campaign post 74 acheived precisely nothing. The political wing only got serious votes when the shooting stopped.
    The provos murdered more of their ‘own community’ than the police, army & loyalists combined. The unionists became more entrenched and southerners more alienated. The resulting peace settlement has seen republicanism accept the unionist veto on partition, the NI police force, decommissioning, British rule administered through Stormont and the withdrawal of articles 2 & 3.
    Results? Delusions more like.

  • Roisin

    GLC,

    [i]The political wing only got serious votes when the shooting stopped.[/i]

    Voting trends don’t support that. There was a steady upward trend. In fact, after the IRA ended its first cessation in 1996, Sinn Fein continued to see a rise in votes. How do you account for that?

  • Roisin

    3rd Policeman,

    What percentage of the GCSE curriculum (rather than at A level as the majority will stop at GCSE) would you estimate is divided between Irish history and non-Irish related British history?

  • IJP

    SuperSoupy

    Had enough time to think about Comrade‘s question yet?

  • The Third Policeman

    Pweh I can’t really remember to be honest Roisin. Umm we did the Irish troubles and i remember that for coursework we had to compare NICRA to the Black Civil Rights movement in America and the sufferings of the two peoples. We also studied 1920s America with its boom and bust so that included the Great Depression as well. The biggest module however was the Cold War. That was actually the most interesting one. Looking back now I’m sure we did a fourth module but I can’t mind what it was at all. God thats a worry lol.

  • Sean

    GLC

    By 1974 the government had paid lip service to addressing the nationalist concerns thus my analogy of plasters on gaping wounds. It was only after the IRA refused to acceed to the window dressing reforms that the english started getting serious about the Irish question. And only after the bombing of London did they start to put teeth into the legislation and pressure on the loayalists to negotiate

  • kensei

    “What percentage of the GCSE curriculum (rather than at A level as the majority will stop at GCSE) would you estimate is divided between Irish history and non-Irish related British history?”

    Been a while, but IRC my history GCSE covered 3 main areas – 20’s/30’s America, the Cold War and Irish history since 1969. I think a lot depends on the school and the teacher.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Regarding what Davy Adams said, but there should definitely be more of an emphasis placed on Irish history in Unionist/Protestant schools system today. That there isn’t is somewhat part of the problem in NI today. And there should be more of an emphasis placed on the Irish Protestants who have contributed to Irish society and culture throughout the ages and less of what went on across the water.
    Young Unionists/Protestants would have more of an understanding and empathy toward Irish culture,(and the Nationalist community. Less alienation would result!

  • The Penguin

    Gréagóir

    With the best of intentions, I’m sure, you have just provided an example of the one eyed approach that Adams is on about. You seem to think it is only with the Unionist/Protestant version of history that there is a problem.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Likewise there should be more of an understanding of British culture and history throughout Ireland. However, regarding popular culture Irish people throughout the island already appreciate British culture everyday with the likes of Coronation Street, Eastenders, Man Utd, Liverpool, Celtic, Rangers, Chelsea, the fry up, the Royal family, The Grand National, The Sun, The Mirror, Robbie Williams, Take That, etc..etc..all are a part of each day in some way, including most of all, the English language, (of which Ireland has provided her fair share of writers and poets.)

    On a more solemn note the Irish Government last year recognised the Irish people who fought and died for the British armed forces at the Somme in WWI by holding a ceremony at the Sir Edwin Lutyen’s designed Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge in Dublin. Vist St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and view all the British military standards and Union flags (and just to note Douglas Hyde the first president of the Free State was a Protestant).

  • Greenflag

    Third Policeman, Kensei , Roisin, Sean , Super Soupy, Gerry lvs Castro , Penguin . IJP etc etc

    To get the ‘full flavour’ of Irish History in the broadest British sense where better than have a glance at page 317 of Whitaker’s Almanac for the year 1890 which by it’s own admission contains

    ‘A large amount of information respecting the government finances population commerce and general statistics of the British empire throughout the world with some notice of other countries ‘

    Some excerpts

    Population

    Ireland 1845 : 8,295,061

    From May 1851 to the end of December 1885 no fewer than 3,051,361 people emigrated as many as 105,743 people in 1883 alone..

    And the reason for the above state of affairs

    Here’s Whitaker

    ‘ In many respects Ireland is far behind Great Britain , not only in manufactures , commerce and agriculture , but also in those other sources by which a nation is enriched and her population made prosperous and happy . The coasts abound with fish , but this source of wealth is much neglected . The mineral riches of the country such as coal , iron , etc are underdeveloped and there can be little doubt that one fourth more corn , cattle and other agricultural produce might be raised and exported’

    And here’s Whitaker at it’s condescending imperial best 🙂 Northern Ireland power sharing politicians please take notice 🙂

    ‘The Irish people unlike the Scotch are too much in the habit of expecting too much assistance from this country in those matters in which they should help themselves . Had they the same persistent industry and self reliance as the Scotch, the country would present a very different appearance from what it does ‘

    ‘The Government is semi independent (was it ?) . A Lord Lieutentant appointed by each successive Ministry exercises almost regal sway.( Not unlike the reign of the last 35 years of the NI Secretaries of State). He has a salary of 20,000 pounds ( not bad for 1890 ?) but being usually a nobleman of large private fortune his expenditure is frequently much more than the amount received . The peerage consists of 177 members who are represented in the Imperial Parliament by 28 of their number and 103 members represent the country in the House of Commons .’

    Further on Whitaker ‘relents ‘ a little 🙁

    ‘It is on all sides admitted that for many years the Irish people were badly governed and had much to complain of : and in point of fact have never been without a grievance , real or imaginary ( nice touch the ‘imaginary ‘ eh ?) For centuries the Roman Catholics who form the chief part of the inhabitants were subject to many disabilities :these were greatly alleviated by the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill of 1829 and entirely relieved (no kidding ?) by the disestablishment of the Irish Church in 1870.
    British statesmen both Liberal and Conservative have for the past 50 years (presumably 1840 -1890 we won’t mention the famine) done their best to remove all real causes of complaint .

    It is possible as the years roll on the past will be forgotten and that the Irish people as the Scotch have already done will find their connection with a rich country like England of incalculable benefit to themselves .’

    ‘At the time of the Union , Ireland was a very important national factor much more important than at the present ‘ ( Hurray for the Union what ho old chap ) .

    Some more Union benefits as per Whitaker.

    ‘The population of England and Wales in 1801 was but 9,060,993 while the population of Ireland was 5,216,329 considerably more than half of this country ; while the population of Scotland was only 1.625,000 . Ireland formed a proportion no less than 33% of the whole.’

    And after 88 years of beneficial Union rule Whitaker’s expounds on another side benefit of the Union of Britain and Ireland.

    ‘In 1889 the relative proportions had completely changed for of the 37,750,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom there were but 4, 650,000 in Ireland or jst 13% of the whole . Scotland had in the meantime sprung up to 4,100,000 and it’s population will soon be larger than that of Ireland .

    Presumably it wasn’t Whitaker’s intention that the Irish having read the Almanac’s prescription for the ‘State of Ireland’s ‘ woes i.e that they were lacking in the essential ingredient of self reliance should go so far as to take Whitaker’s advice too literally and proceed to complete self reliance outside Her Brittanic Majesty’s Union ?

    I can only imagine what Whitaker’s would say of the present day ‘self reliance ‘attributes of her majesty’s loyal ‘unionists’ and disloyal ‘nationalists’ in Northern Ireland?

    Probably unprintable in these politically correct days !

  • Greenflag

    Whitaker’s ‘prescription ‘ for Scotland and Northern Ireland

    ‘The Scottish and Northern Ireland people unlike the Irish Republic are too much in the habit of expecting too much assistance from this country in those matters in which they should help themselves . Had they the same persistent industry and self reliance as the Irish in the Irish Republic their countries would present a very different appearance from what they do ‘

    Who said God was’nt an Englishman or at least thinks he’s an Englishman 🙂

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Would be worth checking out too the writings of Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and Benjamin Franklin who all paid a visit to these shores and remarked at the immense poverty and neglect of the Irish people as well.

  • Greenflag

    Also not forgeting Trollope .

    Whitaker’s Almanac was the ready reference of it’s time and a copy was to be found in every ‘educated’ household .

    It gives ‘an all round flavour ‘ to the spirit of the age in a way that no history or novel could .

    Remarkable Occurrences 1888-1889 lists the following gems just as a sample

    Dec 6th 1888

    The German factories at Bagamoyo attacked by a native chief with a large force

    Dec 8th 1888
    A farmer near Ennis brutally beaten for refusing to subscribe to the Parnell Indemnity Fund .

    Dec 19th 1888
    Mr Gladstone left London for Naples

    Dec 28th 1888

    The Hon Miss Prittie sister to Lord Dunalley killed while hunting near Nenagh.

    March 2 1889

    Two chiefs sent on a mission by the King of Matabeleland presented to the Queen at Windsor

    Nov 22 1889

    The Parnell Commission having sat for 129 days the inquiry concluded with a speech by Sir Henry James lasting 11 and a half days . About 493 witnesses were examined and 98,177 questions answered !

    Sept 5th 1889

    Seventy lives estimated to be lost owing to a fire in Penicuik Colliery , Midlothian .

    Nov 15 1889

    Revolution in Brazil . Emperor deposed . Republic declared .

    Nov 19th 1889

    Attempted murder of his Honour Judge Bristow at Nottingham by a German dentist named Arneman

    Plus ca change eh ?