A blight on the Twelfth…

The devil in any story is always in the detail. Lindy McDowell has some telling detail on this one, which involves a grieving father, a bonfire, ‘paramilitary sanction’, and a poor response from the PSNI. She also has some tough questions:

…the Orange Order. Where were they in all this? The bonfires are supposedly about celebrating Orange culture. Not paramilitary maggotry.

Why, then, was there no one on hand from the Order to supervise the bonfire – and to take immediate action in this case?

And, finally, the police. What the hell are the PSNI doing going through ” community liaison channels” before they act?

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  • Cruimh

    “as none of these other parties were the administrative power at the time don’t see why relevant.”

    Dewi – don’t you think the Churches had a responsibility to their people ?

  • Dewi

    Economicilliteracy

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>As people still starved when more food was being imported than was being exported then it is patently obvious that Ireland was NOT self sufficient in food.

    Single word answer please.<< *Groans* Relevance to the lack of aid to counter wide-spread hunger? Relevance to Trevelyans wish to thin out the population? Relevance to the news black out of the genocide?

  • Cruimh

    Sean – http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/past/famine/summer_1847.html

    Ireland moved from being a net exporter to being a net importer of grains.

    Anybody interested in Scotland and Ireland ?

    “Have you read anything by the Navvy Poet, Patrick MacGill? I suggest you try The Children of the Dead end and The Rat Pit. His account of how the famine relief was abused in his area of Donegal is instructive. “

  • Dewi

    Cruimh – I’ll find out what the Church did during the period – but I’d expect Government to help me primarily. Like what they did in the floods just now.

  • Cruimh

    “but I’d expect Government to help me primarily. Like what they did in the floods just now.”

    Dewi – sums up the problem. You cannot expect a 19th century Government to react or behave like a 21st century Government.

    There was food shortage and death in scotland during the 1840s – relief was inadequate also. Of course the problem wasn’t as severe because of the different reliance on the Potato – but it’s worth considering – if it hadn’t been for the Highland clearances there would probably have been something similar.

  • Sean

    crumb
    nice try at obfuscation but no where on that site does it claim that ireland was a net importer of food only grain. this is also some what obfuscated when you consider that a great deal of irelands grains were exported in the form of spirits and beer a very ineficient usage of grain in the midst of a famine

  • Dewi

    Dewi – sums up the problem. You cannot expect a 19th century Government to react or behave like a 21st century Government.

    But they were before 46 election ! – Then the Friedmanites took over.

  • Objectivist

    Protestant areas of Ireland were hard hit – and that effective relief wasn’t sent – even to more accessible areas like Lurgan – also damages the picture painted by our friends overseas.,
    Which makes the attempts by some unionists to whitewash it all the more surprising.As regards your imports/exports point could I have a source please albeit even if it’s true it is a complete nonsequitur as anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of economics can testify.
    Some Irish may have behaved abominably but then there were ‘Jewcatchers’ and other such Jewish collaborators during WW2.
    Proportionately more Irish lost their lives in the Famine Holocaust than Jews , globally speaking, in the WW2 Holocaust.As one Slugger poster one put it , saying the Irish died from starvation during the Famine is like saying Jews died of oxygen deprivation in the concentration camps.

  • bertie

    Objectivist

    The degree of intent in the two contrast greatly and that is surely a crucial element.

  • Dewi

    The legitimate connection between the two phenomena is ideological fanaticism. Did the libertarian free marketeers deliberately starve hundreds of thousands to death ? I’m still not quite sure but what is certain is that Trevelyan’s unyielding commitment to Free Trade and the specific decisions on grain exports were critical.
    There is a huge contrast between the two, obviously, in that the British didn’t cause the famine.

  • Cruimh

    “Which makes the attempts by some unionists to whitewash it all the more surprising.”

    whitewash it ? what do you mean ? The famine ?

    Most of the unionist community in my experience don’t know a lot about the famine – it’s been so completely “claimed” by the uber-natioalists that they switch off when it arises – as it’s almost always used as part of the natonalist MOPE which at its most extreme claims ‘800 years of oppression made republicans do what they did , what else could the do, you deserved it”

    Oh – and I’m not going to discuss your attempts to trivilise the anti-jewish Holocaust.

    I’ve given sources.

  • parcifal

    the famine is still with us, starved of affection

  • lib2016

    But the effect of the Famine was to emphasise that the Union was there for England’s benefit rather than any conceivable good it might do for the ordinary Irish subject of Her Majesty.

    Just as the recent colonial war fought here emphasises that we are not now and never will be anything more than a colony in British eyes.

    However often unionists claim otherwise there is an historic and inevitable flow towards a United Ireland.

  • Comrade Stalin

    There’s a lot of bollocks put out about the famine. There were famines all over Europe during the C19th and before. In the United States in the C20th during the Great Depression you had circumstances similar to the Famine.

    This is not genocide. In the case of Ireland it was caused by crop failures, combined with a drastic failure of free market economics. In the USA, free market economics failed. In Soviet Russia and Mao’s China, the famines were caused during disasterous attempts to impose political ideology on people. This is not so different from the insistence in Ireland that the invisible hand of the free market would eventually fix things by itself.

    Of course Irish people exported their food. How else do you think they paid for the fare in order to immigrate to England, the USA and other places ? Those who were lucky enough to be able to pull together enough food, sold it and got out. Those who say that the British should have stopped this, are in fact saying that farmers should have been stopped from selling foodstuffs on the open market. In other words, food should have been taken from people who had it, and given to people who did not have it.

    That is communism, folks. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but this was at a time, much as is the case now, when Adam Smith’s ideas were popular, and even among those sympathetic to the problems, it was thought that intervening in the market would make things worse.

    Dewi writes:

    British Empire richest place in world – Ireland just across the water – reaction could have been swifter.

    This isn’t an argument proving genocide. Today, the United States is the richest country in the world. Yet the country is wracked with poverty, and a massive gap between the richest and the poorest. People live in trailer parks (to me this is the single most significant outrage), the social welfare system is heavily restricted. There is no public healthcare system for all but the very poorest people there – life expectancy figures for those on low incomes is lower than in many parts of Europe and in some cases is level with that of former Eastern Bloc states. I read that in Kansas the minimum wage for certain industries is $2.65 per hour. That is $20 per day, a third world wage. The reason why these glaring inconsistencies exist in the USA, and in Europe as well where we are only a little better, is because we insist on applying unrestricted free market economics with minimal social safeguards. Ignorance ? Yes. Carelessness ? Yes. Lack of concern for your fellow man ? Definitely. But is it genocide – meaning a systematic effort to wipe out an entire population ? No. If the Brits wanted to do that, they could have just laid Ireland under siege and sent the army in.

    Does our collective failure to stop famine elsewhere in the world, rather than spending our money at home on houses, nice cars (two per household now becoming the norm) and other goodies make us guilty of genocide ? Or is it because we don’t give enough of a shit ?

  • Objectivist

    your attempts to trivilise the anti-jewish Holocaust.,
    On the contrary I’m just using it to illustrate your attempt to trivialise the Famine – the WW2 Holocaust being the only remotely comparable event in modern Western European history.Trevalyan was Ireland’s Eichmann.
    The ‘applying 21st century thinking to the 19th century’ has been used.Grattan’s Parliament in the *18th* century averted a famine by blocking food exports.

  • Cruimh

    That is probably the best post I’ve read on Slugger Comrade Stalin.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Cruimh, thank you. The famine was a disaster, a large and painful memory in the history of the Irish people. But it really annoys me when people say that tbe British created or exacerbated it for specific genocidal purposes.

    Folks, pick up a Charles Dickens novel. Tell me then that the British ensured that their poor were well looked after. Western countries in the C19th were quite clearly all about rich people getting richer, and squashing poor people underfoot. The gentry who ran Britain and other countries did not care a jot for poor people, whether they were in Birmingham or Belfast. This is why the trade union movement gained traction; this is why communism became a place of refuge for people across the world who were bitterly treated by the status quo.

  • bertie

    Cruimh

    I was pretty impressed with it too!

  • Objectivist

    Of course Irish people exported their food. How else do you think they paid for the fare in order to immigrate to England, the USA and other places ?
    It was used to pay rackrenting absentee landlords.

  • Dewi

    Joseph – you are correct in all u say – but I still think mass starvation would never have been allowewd to happen in Hampshire for instance. Probably cos of fear of revolution.

  • Dewi

    A more sophisticated response Joseph – I never said genocide – others more qualified than me have – but it happened and could have been prevented by government action.

    A tangential question, and faraway from the thread, is what would have a sovereign Irish government done in the circumstances ?

  • Objectivist

    .A tangential question, and faraway from the thread, is what would have a sovereign Irish government done in the circumstances ?
    I answered this in posting no 16 on this page the same page:
    ‘Grattan’s Parliament in the *18th* century averted a famine by blocking food exports’

  • Comrade Stalin

    Dewi:

    Joseph – you are correct in all u say – but I still think mass starvation would never have been allowewd to happen in Hampshire for instance. Probably cos of fear of revolution.

    I’m not sure I buy that. Why would the Irish be less likely to rebel than the people in Hampshire, especially given their history ?

    A more sophisticated response Joseph – I never said genocide – others more qualified than me have

    Anybody who uses the word “genocide” in relation to the famine is clearly not qualified to discuss it.

    but it happened and could have been prevented by government action.

    I accept that government action may have stopped the famine, if they had imported large enough quantities of food. I think the reason why the famine is controversial because people claim the government deliberately withheld this in order to wipe out the population. My point is that there is no evidence for this. There is no evidence that the government would have behaved any differently towards any other section of people. God’s sake, there are famines in the world today that nobody lifts a finger to stop. Even worse, there are famines in the world that we slap ourselves on the back, convincing ourselves that we have saved lives by shipping powdered milk to a country poor clean water supplies. If the Brits are guilty of famine in Ireland, then every man and woman with any disposable income in the Western world is guilty of genocide in Darfur.

    Objectivist:

    It was used to pay rackrenting absentee landlords.

    Absentee landlords are not illegal in Ireland, or in most of Europe, today. The charging of rent is not regulated in Ireland today as far as I know. If there were a major economic catastrophe in Ireland on the scale of the famine, today’s Irish government would be poorly equipped to address it. People in rural Ireland complain as it is that the government fails to account for their needs with the same priority afforded to the greater Dublin area. For crying out loud, they don’t have clean drinking water in Galway. I don’t think that’s because there are evil masterminds in the Irish government rubbing their hands with glee trying to squash Galway by stopping drinking water. I think it’s just that politicians are morons. Damn shame the people of Galway didn’t choose to register their opposition to this by voting in a different group of politicians – not a single FF TD lost office in Galway – but that’s their choice.

    Objectivist:

    I answered this in posting no 16 on this page the same page:
    ‘Grattan’s Parliament in the *18th* century averted a famine by blocking food exports’

    This isn’t necessarily a straight answer. Allowing people to sell their food and buy a ticket out of Ireland to a better life elsewhere would have significantly reduced the pressure on food supply in Ireland and thereby reduced the death toll. Forcing people to give up their food might have made things worse. Who knows ?

  • Dewi

    “accept that government action may have stopped the famine, if they had imported large enough quantities of food. I think the reason why the famine is controversial because people claim the government deliberately withheld this in order to wipe out the population. My point is that there is no evidence for this. There is no evidence that the government would have behaved any differently towards any other section of people. God’s sake, there are famines in the world today that nobody lifts a finger to stop. Even worse, there are famines in the world that we slap ourselves on the back, convincing ourselves that we have saved lives by shipping powdered milk to a country poor clean water supplies. If the Brits are guilty of famine in Ireland, then every man and woman with any disposable income in the Western world is guilty of genocide in Darfur.”

    But the initial approach worked yes ? – the change of policy meant hundreds of thousands died. Feel terrible about Darfur but my Government don’t rule it and so effect by influence rather than decision.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Feel terrible about Darfur but my Government don’t rule it and so effect by influence rather than decision.

    That’s a cop out. The West has the financial power to end poverty in the world. The reason why it doesn’t is because very few people would tolerate the massive tax increases that would be required to achieve it.

    You don’t feel that you have a responsibility to ease suffering in Darfur. That is the same as the British government during the Irish famine. I don’t think that makes you or anyone else a genocidist.

  • Dewi

    Joseph – fine – I agreed with u earlier because u r usually right – not this time. British Government policy was saving peoples lives and then they changed policy (1846)- which lead to mass starvation – I think that’s a fact – do u agree ?
    On darfur the relationship ain’t quite as direct maybe ?

  • Cruimh

    “British Government policy was saving peoples lives and then they changed policy (1846)- which lead to mass starvation – I think that’s a fact – do u agree ? ”

    I’m not sure you can reasonably put events into such a simplistic, black and white perspective as that and claim it as “fact” Dewi.

    for example it’s a rather important point that there was a change of Government in 1846, so this wasn’t a Government changing it’s mind, it was a new Government entirely.

  • Dewi

    The new Government changed the policy – that is the quite specific point about the famine I”ve been making since since this morning for God’s sake.

  • Cruimh

    It wasn’t how you worded it 10.56PM Dewi.

  • Dewi

    Apologies – its what i meant about chnaged government – see my posts all effing day

  • Cruimh

    Dewi – if you offer a summary on which you ask for agreement then it’s important that it be accurate. It was quite a large difference.

  • Cruimh

    Sorry Dewi- was in the middle of a hand of cards nence the brevity – wasn’t meaning to be so terse or come across as rude.

  • Dewi

    “then they changed policy (1846)”

    Cruimh – that was my comment – and sorry – that’s been the whole sodding point – the new government were ideological idiots – I thought we had covered this.

  • Cruimh

    Sorry, what you wrote was

    “British Government policy was saving peoples lives and then they changed policy (1846)- ”

    “they” didn’t change policy. A new government changed policy.

    Big difference.

  • Dewi

    It was still the government FFS – anyway – off to bed Nos effing da

  • Cruimh

    Night Night Dewi 🙂

  • Harry Flashman

    You may say the new 1846 government’s economic policy was idiotic but it was based on overturning the previous idiotic economic policy.

    The new government had been elected to overthrow the hated Corn Laws, these laws had featherbedded the big grain farmers of England – and Ireland (only a small proportion of the latter were protestant by the way, the big Catholic beef, dairy, barley, wheat and horse farmers and merchants of the East, South and Midlands of Ireland were as interested in helping their starving co-religionists in the west as you and I are in helping our fellow humans in Darfur).

    Prior to the repeal of the Corn Laws there was near starvarion among the poorest in England as they could not afford the artificially high price of locally produced wheat. This wheat was protected from cheap foreign imports. The Whigs expressly believed that starving the poor to protect the rich was bad economic policy and insisted instead on letting the free market decide. Having been elected on a platform of non-intervention in the grain farming market they felt it would be wrong a year later to interfere and start seizing the property of grain farmers.

    We are really only talking about one year, 1847, when the blight hit with a vengeance, it was a horible coincidence that this was the year when a free market government had just been installed in office, the law of unintended consequences if you will, and to be fair to the Whigs when they finally ascertained the true scale of what was going on in Ireland they did reverse their policies a little and begin buying up corn.

    To describe the mess of this one year as a deliberate genocide is simply hystrionic nonsense. It was nothing of the sort and given the scale of the disaster and the sort of people who would have made up an independent Irish administration in Dublin (the wealthy Irish Catholic farmers and merchants who were selling their grain to the English) Irish independence would not have made a whit of difference to the outcome.

    But why debate facts when anti-English hysteria and shroud waving is so much more fun?

  • Sean

    why debate facts when pro-english hystrionics can be weaseled aloud

  • Objectivist
  • Objectivist

    Most of the unionist community in my experience don’t know a lot about the famine
    We are talking about arguably the most seismic event in Irish history which had reverberations throughout the island of Ireland ,as a result of which the island lost at least a quarter of its population through starvation, and emigration and which has ongoing relevance – the population of the island has still not recovered.It is relatively recent (compared to 1690)- many of its eye witnessses lived well into the twentieth century.Sounds like some swotting up in is order.

  • Harry Flashman

    #

    why debate facts when pro-english hystrionics can be weaseled aloud
    Posted by Sean on Jul 22, 2007 @ 02:38 AM

    Sean you have responded several times to many of my posts and in not one single occasion have ever actually managed to debate me on the topic in question instead continually resorting to childish meaningless and inaccurate personal abuse.

    Do me a favour, if you feel unable to counter my arguments just take a deep breath and don’t bother responding, you only make yourself look like an idiot.

  • Dewi

    “We are really only talking about one year, 1847, when the blight hit with a vengeance, it was a horible coincidence that this was the year when a free market government had just been installed in office, the law of unintended consequences if you will, and to be fair to the Whigs when they finally ascertained the true scale of what was going on in Ireland they did reverse their policies a little and begin buying up corn.”

    “Horrible coincidence” is a fairly bland way to describe the Government failings here – Goverbment stupidity (at best) was responsible for mass starvation.

  • Cruimh

    “- the population of the island has still not recovered”

    ‘recovered’ ? The island is already crowded. You make it sound like it was a good thing that Ireland was so heavily populated in the mid 19th century.

    The famine has no relevence for today for my community.

  • Dewi

    “The famine has no relevence for today for my community.”

    For unionist posters is that a generally accepted position ?

    Seems a little strange to ignore completely. Is it taught in schools ?

  • Cruimh

    Dewi – read again – ‘relevence for today’.

    It’s not ignored completely and of course it’s taught in schools – as is the Black Death and the eruption of krakatoa.

  • Objectivist

    ‘recovered’ ? The island is already crowded. You make it sound like it was a good thing that Ireland was so heavily populated in the mid 19th century.,
    So the Famine was a good thing because otherwise you would have to wait a bit longer at traffic lights?
    You have acually echoed the curious psychology of the British ruling class at the time.
    .”The famine has no relevence for today for my community.”
    ”It’s not ignored completely and of course it’s taught in schools – as is the Black Death and the eruption of krakatoa.”

    The imperative, suggested here, to consign historical events into a mental cupboard marked ‘no longer relevant’ is not exactly a defining characteristic of unionism.

  • JC

    co-religionists in the west

    Belfast is in the north-east.

  • Reader

    Objectivist: the population of the island has still not recovered.
    Nonsense: the population has since ‘recovered’ many times over, but constantly exported its surplus ( anything > 5.5 million) to England and America. Are you blaming the famine for all that subsequent emigration too?

  • Billy

    loftholdingswood

    What crime did “MickyBo” commit to get his name burnt on an Orange Bonfire last year then?

    As far as I’m aware, he went out to buy a pizza and was beaten to death by a gang of “loyalist” youths.

    It couldn’t possibly be simply because he was a Catholic could it?

    Got any excuses for that one?

  • Dewi

    “Nonsense: the population has since ‘recovered’ many times over, but constantly exported its surplus ( anything > 5.5 million) to England and America. Are you blaming the famine for all that subsequent emigration too?”

    Reader – do all countries have natural levels of population above which need to export people ? – fr’instance what’s England’s ? – or indeed the planet’s ??