Happy Ulster Day

Haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else, but today was quite an important day in 1912 and for a lot of families in Ulster, including mine, it is possible to have a look at what ancestors were doing on this day in history.

  • The Third Policeman

    a Sinn Feiner shouted “Up the Rebels”. He was knocked down by a Unionist who then ran down Shipquay street,

    Ah sure can’t you always expect a Cork man to be in the thick of things.

  • Harry Flashman @ 04:04 AM:

    Thank you for the Irish Times report on the start of the “Derry Civil War’: I did not, and so not have access to that archive.

    I admit that I was basing a gross over-simplification on my notes, mainly derived from the Derry Journal.

    Quite frankly, where could one reasonably start a chronology?
    With Bishop McHugh’s carve-up of the northern seats for the 1918 Election, which put Eoin McNeill in?
    With the Soloheadbeg ambush (21 January 1919), on the day the First Dáil convened (and so signalled the start of the War of Independence)?
    With the polarising of the working class between Sir Robert Anderson’s Ulster Labour Association and the ITGWU?
    With the Derry Carters’ strike of March 1919?
    With the start of RIC house-searches?
    With the Nationalist viictory in the January 1920 Municipal Elections?
    With Lord Mayor O’Doherty banning the flying of all flags from the Guildhall, and refusing any invitation which involved the loyal toast or the imperial connection?
    With the events of 15-16 April 1920, when the soldiers of the Dorset regiment opened fire, causing the riots of the following day, and the attack on the barracks (which does seem to be the first concerted SF action in the City)?
    With the shooting of a RC lad in Carlisle Square, on 19 April?
    With the Orange rampage through Bridge Street, and the subsequent rioting which had to be cleared by a bayonet charge? And, on the same day (19 May) the shooting of Sgt Mooney on Derry Quay?
    With the firing at Prehen on the nationalist Sunday outing (13 June)?

    All of that is the endless tit-for-tattery of the run-up to the weekend reported by the Irish Times.

  • As Tic

    but not for all of Ulster

  • Harry Flashman

    An interesting chronology there Malcolm and one of which I will admit I am largely ignorant, is it all from the Journal’s archive (not the most objective source admittedly) or do you have other sources? It is certainly a fascinating series of events in a not unsubstantial town in the United Kingdom most of which seems to have entirely dropped off the radar of history.

    My own interest stems from the June week when the worst outbreak occurred, my great grandfather, as I mentioned, became heavily involved, leaving his wife and two infant children and a very well paid foreman’s job to spend the week at a barricade between St Columb’s and Nazereth House taking potshots at the Fountain. Having been dismissed from his job at the end of the disturbances it was made clear to him that he better leave town, he took the Glasgow boat that night and his badly beaten body was found floating in the Clyde a week later, no one knew for sure what happened but the conjectures have been obvious.

    Were I still living in Derry I would love to research this fascinating time more thoroughly, I feel there is a very interesting book to be written about it. You wouldn’t be interested would you? You seem to have done alot of the legwork already.

  • Nevin

    Malcolm and Harry, apologies but several of my posts to Slugger recently haven’t made it onto the threads.

    Here’s an interesting link: Colm Fox, “The Making of a Minority – Chapter 4”. It shows that some attacks in Derry followed attacks elsewhere ie you shouldn’t draw conclusions about Derry in isolation.

  • Harry Flashman @ 02:09 PM;
    Nevin @ 02:18 PM:

    I’m not going to defend the impartiality of the consistently-moderate nationalist Derry Journal nor of the Unionist Londonderry Sentinel (which at least were on the spot), nor of the (then) pro-Union Irish Times. Such sources, however, are about the best we have for day-to-day coverage. There are other obvious (but questionably bias-free) sources, especially court records and the logs and monthly returns of the RIC District Inspectors (now in the Public Record Office). What would really be instructive are contemporary diaries, letters and the like of ordinary bods, on both sides.

    I must award Brownie points for spotting the Colm Fox extract on CAIN. He covers the ground exhaustively, though (speaking for myself) I find his style and his chronology a bit taxing. I don’t defend my own version: it is re-worked from manuscript notes of some time back.

    Let’s also note the useful material coming readily and increasingly available through the Google Books project and the like.

    And, yes, there is a whole series of studies needed on the local and community experiences across the Six Counties, across Ulster, and across Ireland as the War of Independence developed, as partition was imposed, and as the consequences for both sides festered and developed. [My own choice would be to look at how the working class were divided, and by malice aforethought.] Fortunately there is a whole host of hungry PhD candidates busy writing these studies. Some get published and publicised: CAIN, among other academic sources, does a good job for the rest.

    Now, if only (80-90 years on) we could find some common ground in the whole thing ….

  • willowfield

    BRADAN FEASA

    So let me get this straight, this covenant pledged that those who signed it would resist the democratic wish of both Britain and Ireland by any means necessary….And some unionists cant see why they are not so popular in the democratic world….hmmm….

    You mean defend the democratic wish of Ulster (i.e. the Ulster Protestant/unionis people). Don’t see why defending a universal right should be unpopular.

    RG Cuan

    Let’s all celebrate a declaration that ensured Planters would violently resist the will of their neighbours. Yee haa!

    But you’d be happy to celebrate the violent suppression of “Planters” by their neighbours?

  • willowfield

    I WONDER

    As far as I am concerned, the current argument against *terroristsin government” should have been applied in 1921.

    How could it be? There were no terrorists, as far as I know, in 1921. Unless you mean the IRA, but I’m not sure how they fit into a definition of terrorist.

    Anyway, I’ve posted 5 times here and elsewhere asking how any Unionist can defend importing guns from a country which their own country was shortly to go to war with and which at the time of importing was certainly not on good terms with HMG.

    Obviously the defence is that weapons might be needed in order to defend self-determination which was under clear threat. The source of the weapons is hardly material.

    SAMMAGUIRE

    Surely people who support what the UVF did in 1912 and denounce the PIRA 1969-1993 are absolute hypocrites. The situations were very similar. Minorities not excepting the majority view.

    Very similar??

    In 1912 the vast majority supported the Unionist Party and the Covenant: in 1969-93 only a small minority supported PSF and there was no Covenant-equivalent even available to seek legitimacy. Hardly similar.

    In 1913 the UVF was formed to defend self-determination, but never took part in violent activity and killed no-one: in 1969-93 the PIRA employed terrorism to subvert self-determination and murdered nearly 2,000 people. Hardly similar.

  • willowfield

    SAMMAGUIRE

    Unionists in Ulster in 1912 were in a minority in Ireland (the political entity within the UK that they lived in) and didn’t like what the majority democratically wanted so they imported arms to maintain the Union. Is this not analogous to nationalists in modern times in a part of NI with a clear nationalist majority (say south of a line from Derry to Downpatrick) taking up arms to end the Union.

    No, because nationalists south of Derry/Downpatrick sought violently to end the Union for the whole of NI, not just south of the Derry/Downpatrick line. Unionists in 1912, however, were only prepared to use violence to defend the retention of Ulster – where they were a majority – not the whole of Ireland.

    OBJECTIVIST

    The Provos in 1969 had a convincing role model.

    Really? When did 500,000 people (actually, the equivalent would maybe be 2m) sign a covenant in support of the PIRA? I must have missed that.

  • kensei

    “No, because nationalists south of Derry/Downpatrick sought violently to end the Union for the whole of NI, not just south of the Derry/Downpatrick line. Unionists in 1912, however, were only prepared to use violence to defend the retention of Ulster – where they were a majority – not the whole of Ireland.”

    By that logic, I would be justified in a campaign to declare my house for the Republic.

  • willowfield

    And it was (outside the Unionist inner circles) universally detested. It was cynical in the extreme, if only because an Ulster sectarian cabal (in cahoots with the usual English Tory suspects) were prepared to sell southern Unionists down the Bann.

    “Selling southern Unionists down the Bann” … let’s see – a choice between saving the vast majority of unionists, or saving none of them – you would save none?

  • MacAedha

    Kensei
    No, because nationalists south of Derry/Downpatrick sought violently to end the Union for the whole of NI, not just south of the Derry/Downpatrick line. Unionists in 1912, however, were only prepared to use violence to defend the retention of Ulster – where they were a majority – not the whole of Ireland
    Not even the whole of Ulster

  • This thread is descending into the usual reiterative nonsense, but one last word:

    willowfield @ 09:00 PM:

    …a choice between saving the vast majority of unionists, or saving none of them – you would save none?

    I think the word “save” might need some explanation there. “Save” them from what exactly?

    Have a look at what was on offer in the Home Rule Bill, as introduced on 11 April 1912. It amounted to a bicameral legislature, having ‘power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Ireland’ but ‘the supreme power and authority of the Imperial Parliament is to remain unimpaired and unchallenged’. The 64 members of the Irish House of Commons would be elected on the same constituency basis as before: Ulster 59 members, Leinster 41, Munster 37, Connaught 25, 2 University seats, making 128 County Members, 34 Borough members and the 2 university members. Ireland would also retain 42 MPs at Westminster (which Asquith estimated would split 34-8).

    In passing, it is also noteworthy that, after 1922 and until de Valera changed the rules in 1937, the Free State Constitution was explicitly secular.

    Now for the numbers game. I know that, then and now, the equation of religious adherence with political tendency is approximate, but here goes…

    In the 1911 all-Ireland census Roman Catholics amounted to 73.8% of the population (and previous censuses indicate that this was a slowly declining percentage). That means that some 1.15m were non-Catholic (to be precise all, but for some 5,000 Jews, registered as members of Protestant denominations). I sweated the figures for the six counties in a previous posting in this thread, but, as I see it, the 26 counties contained over 300,000 non-Catholics.

    If one has to think in such terms, that’s a heck of a lot of one’s co-religionists not to “save”.

    Is there an alternative explanation of why the Unionist inner councils were so ready to go for partition? You bet. Try this for size:
    The Orange Order’s fears were based on the idea of the threat of Roman Catholicism, confiscation of land and the destruction of prosperous industries, but it was significant that it was an internal rather than external threat which caused the most unrest in the opening years of the [20th] century. The Independent Orange Order had 68 lodges by 1906 under the leadership of TH Sloan, who ran for election and directed criticism at the leadership of the Ulster Unionists for neglecting working-class concerns.
    Also important was the growing resentment at the landlord class as enunciated by TW Russell, who castigated their control of the land as ‘systematised and legalised robbery’…. Disgruntlement within the ranks of unionism, and the desire of the Ulster Unionist Party
    to achieve local control and quell working-class and tenant grievances, was one of the main reasons for the creation of the Ulster Unionist council in 1905.
    [Diarmaid Ferriter, The Transformation of Ireland, page 108. My emphases.]

    Should we not, then, be giving some weight to the thought that the whole anti-Home Rule furore of 1912, and echoing ever since, was
    (a) a nest-feathering ploy by the Unionist landlords and capitalists to divert the tenantry and industrial workers from agitating on other issues? and
    (b) party political machinations — certainly, and on their own admissions, crossing into illegality, and arguably into downright treason — on the part of Tory grandees intent on scuppering the Liberal/Nationalist consensus (for which, see Carson, whom I quoted previously)?

  • Objectivist

    The Provos in 1969 had a convincing role model.

    ”Really? When did 500,000 people (actually, the equivalent would maybe be 2m) sign a covenant in support of the PIRA? I must have missed that.”

    Looks like my point is being missed. The UVF in 1912 explicitly threatened violence in order to avert Home Rule for the ‘whole’ of Ireland. They were not pushing for exclusion for Ulster or any part of Ulster. With respect to your point ‘500,000 people signing a covenant in support of the IRA’ this as a proportion of the population of the area to which they were trying to deny Home Rule loosely approximates to the proportion of the population of N.I. that voted Sinn Fein when the PIRA campaign was still active.
    Therefore if you can justify a minority theatening violence to usurp democracy in an All-Ireland context in 1912 you are effectively legitimising it in a 6 county context 80 odd years later.
    In making it clear that the only argument british governments understood was the barrel of a gun the men of 1912 paved the way for all forms of political violence later to bedevil the island of Ireland.
    The point must be made that historically the British have shown somewhat inconsistent standards towards demonstrations of ‘people power’ in Ireland.Daniel O’Connell addressed a peaceful meeting of 750,000 people at Tara , Co Meath in favour of repeal of the Union in the 1820’s. The reaction of the British was to threaten bloodshed if he went ahead with a further meeting at Clontarf.
    In 1860 a petition was brought to London seeking a plebiscite on Irish self-determination containing 423,026 signatures. It was ignored.

  • Dewi

    A wonderful thread this one – from start to finish. Love the family recollections.
    Malcolm working class Unionism is a fascinating phenomenon – what’s the best book ?

  • Dewi @ 11:59 PM:

    Yes, as a thread it certainly has had its moments.

    As for a “best book” on “working class Unionism”, I’d have to put my hands up and come quietly.

    I think I became interested in the phenomenon partly from being a Labour candidate, and wondering why the suffering masses didn’t rise in adulation to carry me shoulder high to Westminster, and partly from Henry Pelling’s 1968 book, Angels in Marble. That’s mainly on English politics, of course. And I’ve long since lent and lost my copy.

    As a starter, specific to NI, there’s an essay, Unionism’s Last Stand? by a guy called McAuley. It’s on the CAIN website (http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/ethnopolitics/mcauley03.pdf) and can be a bit of a grind. It covers the recent developments well, and has a fine bibliography appended to it.

    For the longer, broader 32-county view, as you can tell from the number of times I quote from it, I think Ferriter’s The Transformation of Ireland is a good read. It’s a general history, but balanced, covers a lot of stuff in considerable detail, and manages to relate economics, politics, sociology and the general culture. I keep coming back to it because it makes connexions beyond my senescent intellect.

  • Nevin

    Malcolm, here’s an alternative explanation:

    “In 1904, however, a number of southern Irish landlords suggested that local government powers in Ireland should be increased in order to improve the quality of its administration. A number of the younger northern unionist leaders were alarmed, regarding this proposal as ‘home rule by instalments’. They urged that a conference be organized to place the party on a ‘war footing’, and reform its organization so that it would be capable of ‘continuous political action’ and in a position ‘generally to advance and defend the interests of Ulster unionism’. As a consequence of their pressure a conference was convened in December 1904, and it resulted in the creation of the Ulster Unionist Council (UUC), which was launched in Belfast in March 1905.”

    It seems that Chief Secretary Wyndham was popular with Ulster Unionists when he introduced the Land Bill but the relationship reversed when his under-secretary MacDonnell, a ‘crypto-Nationalist’, drafted proposals for devolution in 1904. [source Bardon, “History of Ulster”]

  • Harry Flashman

    Nevin, thank you for that link, it makes fascinating reading, along with Malcolm’s chronology it certainly helps fit into historical context a long remembered (but barely talked of) fragment of family history. All the members alive then are long since dead, so I relied on hand me down information from parents and aunts who only themselves heard it second hand.

    To read that the Bishop Street barricade was actually a pivotal point in the riot is quite interesting and would imply that my great grandfather may have had a more active role in Volunteer activities than we had hitherto knew, indeed I don’t think we ever thought of him as being in the IRA at all.

    We had always believed that he must have been a right eejit to leave his young family for a week to play soldiers in Bishop Street (apparently my great grandmother brought him his lunch up every day), but given his previous job as foreman, his urgent need to flee the town at hours’ notice and his subsequent fate (we always understood that several UVF men were also on the Glasgow boat that evening) maybe we have done the man’s memory an injustice and that he might actually deserve more recognition for what appears to have been quite an heroic defence. Ah well I doubt if the Volunteers kept accurate membership lists so we’ll never know, but I will certainly think of him in a more favourable light (my middle name is his, as is my own son’s so at least his memory lives on).

    Fascinating stuff, I must see if I can pick up Fox’s book when I’m in Dublin next week.

  • MacAedha

    Dewi,
    ‘Malcolm working class Unionism is a fascinating phenomenon – what’s the best book ?’
    A good book, though located in one area, is ‘The rape & plunder of the Shankill’ ISBN 0950429201.
    This is akin to ‘Family & kinship in east London’
    However in my experience the best way to get such information is by speaking to people from unionist working class areas, one close relative from the hammer now votes SF due to disillusionment with the unionist government which, on her fathers return from war ‘placed him in slum housing and offered no employment’. For a slightly more contemporaneous, though shorter view, the 1992 report by NICVA ‘a community development story’ gives a good insight into life in areas as diverse as east Belfast and Cloughmills.

  • Nevin

    I also dabble in family history, Harry; it’s a veritable minefield; proceed with great caution.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if historians would stand back a little and let the Plain People speak? I’d rather read a range of stories from across the spectrum than the jaundiced speculations of supposedly academic historians.

    IMO some politicians are selectively mining the history of that era to advance our current political process. Why not tell us that the UVF and Irish volunteer members who were gearing up to confront each other prior to 1914 and after 1918 also found themselves standing together in the WW I trenches? [cf rugby players playing for club and country]

    When you’re in the front line, as the folks in Derry were in 1920, the choices can be very stark. That’s why our political leaders across these two islands IMO need to prepare for 2016, not stumble naively into it. History shows that Derry could easily be in the front line once again.

    There’s other stuff we could talk about but the legal process could leave us destitute and the illegal one kneecapped or worse; it can be a very unfair world. I was privileged to co-ordinate an inter-schools group where young people were enthusiastically giving their free time for the good of all whilst our tribal leaders were wreaking havoc and destruction.

  • Nevin @ 12:58 AM:

    Alan O’Day takes one through the Wyndham period in Irish Home Rule: the land question features in pp193ff.

    What a hyper-active little bunny Wyndham seems to hae been, pushing not just on land reform, but on schools and universities. The result was that he irritated everyone, and as O’Day says:
    Wyndham himself became the object of scorn within his own party. In February 1905 Colonel Saunderson observed that relations with the government were ‘strained almost to breaking point’. Henry Luce observed after the debate on MacDonnell’s role in the devolution plan, ‘if any other Province of the kingdom than Ulster had been concerned in the matter the affair might have been hushed up last September … but Ulster is a sleuth-hound which having once got its nose on the trail, does not uplift it except to spring on the fugitive.’ One outcome was the formation of the Ulster Unionist Council which held its first meeting on 3 March 1905, three days before Wyndham resigned. By exciting protestant suspicions, the devolution crisis marked a sharp turnback toward sectarian politics.

    And that brings us neatly back to your reference to Bardon. Now, I’m at a bit of loss here, because my Bardon has gone walkabout. Fingers of accusation are currently being pointed …

    Can I throw in a couple of other complicating factors, which pre-date the Wyndham land reforms, but tempered the mood of the time?

    The British forces in South Africa had been disproportionately Irish. That meant that the returning casualties went on the rates. Another aggravation for landowners. [One of my university mates used to argue that there was a curious symmetry between British military disasters, and the War Office deploying Welsh and Irish troops. Dewi please note.]

    In addition to which Balfour’s education bill envisaged rate support to denominational schools. This put the hierarchies on one side, while the non-conformists were screaming “Rome on the rates!”

    I reckon this has been one of the most satisfying debates I’ve joined on Slugger. How am I doing in such august company?

  • Nevin

    Malcolm, I should have put in the additional politics.ie source to the part in quotation marks as well but this old sleuth hound was getting a bit tired 🙁

  • Nevin @ 10:50 AM:

    Yeah; thought that “sleuth-hound” bit might appeal. Guess who had been reading Conan Doyle. It struck me that it neatly sums up a universal element in the northern character.

    Your prompt made me, finally, to book-mark the politics.ie wiki. I really must get in there and sharpen up some of those articles.

  • Dewi

    “Ferriter’s The Transformation of Ireland is a good read”…Amazon here I come.

  • Nevin

    Ferritor’s book is a pretty massive tome yet it is incredibly thin on the background to the formation of Ulster Unionism.

  • Dewi

    Got “The Rape and plunder of the Shankhill” and that Mcguinness book while I was at it..

    “One of my university mates used to argue that there was a curious symmetry between British military disasters, and the War Office deploying Welsh and Irish troops. Dewi please note”

    did alright at Agincourt didn’t we ?

  • willowfield

    MALCOLM REDFELLOW

    I think the word “save” might need some explanation there. “Save” them from what exactly?

    From absorption into a Nationalist State.

    I note you didn’t address the point – (from a unionist perspective) given a choice between saving the vast majority of unionists, or saving none of them – you would consider it the right decision to save none?

    OBJECTIVIST

    Looks like my point is being missed. The UVF in 1912 explicitly threatened violence in order to avert Home Rule for the ‘whole’ of Ireland. They were not pushing for exclusion for Ulster or any part of Ulster.

    The clue’s in the name: Ulster Volunteer Force. While ultimately unionists would have preferred the whole of Ireland to remain in the Union as was, in practice the moves in Ulster were towards Ulster exclusion, cf. plans for provisional Ulster government, etc. (And the UVF wasn’t formed until 1913.)

    Therefore if you can justify a minority theatening violence to usurp democracy in an All-Ireland context in 1912 you are effectively legitimising it in a 6 county context 80 odd years later.

    I don’t justify a minority threatening violence – I justify the majority of unionists preparing to defend their self-determination; just as I justify the majority of nationalists doing likewise at the same time. If the majority of unionists had opposed the Volunteers, then I would not justify them as they would have been lacking in legitimacy.

    In making it clear that the only argument british governments understood was the barrel of a gun the men of 1912 paved the way for all forms of political violence later to bedevil the island of Ireland.

    Yeah, because Irish history began in 1912 and all previous violence never happened. What disingenuous sophistry.

  • Nevin @ 11:35 AM:

    I am unsure what you want. There is a gulf of difference between a history of Unionism and of the Ulster Unionist Party. I guess from your phrasing, that it is the latter you seek.

    Ferriter [thus] is not writing a history of how Ulster Unionism was put together. He is writing a general history, as I specifically made clear. He covers the first decade of the 20th century in some 90 pages; and what makes it useful to me is his referencing the various strands to each other.

    Nor is Bardon merely a history of Unionism.

    Indeed, I suggest that any such study could be very narrow, and either a whitewash or a hatchet job. If you want your history highly partial (and certainly not critical or modern) Balfour’s original defence of Unionism is on-line at http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/E900031/index.html

    Does either Miller: Queen’s Rebels, Ulster Loyalism in Historical Perspective (1978) or Boyce and O’Day: Defenders of the Union: A Survey of British and Irish Unionism since 1801 (2001) fit your bill?

    There are several recent studies devoted to Carson: ATQ Stewart in 1981; and Geoffrey Lewis, a couple of years back, jump to mind.

    Then there is Paul Bew’s Conflict and Conciliation in Ireland from the late 1980s, which (as I recall, and I don’t have it here) is largely concerned with the land question. By one of those coincidences that isn’t, John Bew is supposed to be, even as we speak, writing a history of Unionism from his ivory tower in Peterhouse, Cambridge.

    I welcome any further reminders and suggestions.

  • cladycowboy

    willowfield

    “I don’t justify a minority threatening violence – I justify the majority of unionists preparing to defend their self-determination”

    The ‘majority of Unionists’ were still a minority in that political arena.


    just as I justify the majority of nationalists doing likewise at the same time. If the majority of unionists had opposed the Volunteers, then I would not justify them as they would have been lacking in legitimacy.”

    Correct me if i’m wrong but this logic would imply that if the majority of Nationalists had supported PIRA then this would have legitimised PIRA in your eyes and you would no doubt have supported their quest for Nationalist self-determination?

  • willowfield @ 12:07 PM:

    The sub-text of your accusation is that the creation of a sectarian statelet (and despite previous comments, I can find no better term) in the six counties was the sole end and purpose of Unionism. That sounds suspiciously like:
    We are the precious chosen few –
    Let all the rest be damned.
    There’s only room for one or two,
    We can’t have heaven crammed.

    Even the original Unionists were more circumspect that that. Balfour (to whom I referred in my previous posting) was quite effusive in his reasoning:
    That the establishment of an Irish Parliament must involve doubtful and far-reaching consequences is denied by no one. What then is the prima facie case which has induced many Englishmen and Scotchmen to think that it ought to be seriously debated? If we could erase the past and approach the problem of framing representative institutions in their most practicable shape for the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, who would think it wise to crowd into these small Islands two, or, as some would have it, three, four, or five separate Parliaments, with their separate elections, their separate sets of ministers and Offices, their separate party systems, their divergent policies? Distances are, under modern conditions, so small, our population is so compact, the interests of its component parts are so intimately fused together, that any device at all resembling Home Rule would seem at the best cumbersome, costly, and ineffective; at the worst, perilous to the rights of minorities, the peace of the country, and the unity of the Kingdom.

    In short, what Balfour feared was what the Unionists wanted and got.

    And, let me remind you, the Saorstát Constitution was explicitly secular, especially Article 8:
    Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality, guaranteed to every citizen, and no law may be made either directly or indirectly to endow any religion, or prohibit or restrict the free exercise thereof or give any preference, or impose any disability on account of religious belief or religious status.

    Is such a liberal opinion so objectionable that people need to be “saved” from it? Or so terrifying, the sacrifice of a third or more of your numbers is justified to “save” the remainder? Am I allowed to find that mind-set horrifyingly totalitarian?

  • kensei

    “I don’t justify a minority threatening violence – I justify the majority of unionists preparing to defend their self-determination; just as I justify the majority of nationalists doing likewise at the same time. If the majority of unionists had opposed the Volunteers, then I would not justify them as they would have been lacking in legitimacy.”

    I am declaring my house to be a new Republic. I don’t like the taxes. Plus i suspect there is oil under there. And I don’t care about anyone else, I just want my land free. Kensoia, I call it.

    I have established the Kensoia Volunteer Force. By established, I mean that’s what I’m calling myself these days. Am I justified in getting nukes off the black market and threatening violence unless Kensonia is freed from the yoke of other-people tyranny? I’d get rifles from Germany but I’m not sure it’s really enough.

  • willowfield

    Malcolm

    The sub-text of your accusation is that the creation of a sectarian statelet (and despite previous comments, I can find no better term) in the six counties was the sole end and purpose of Unionism.

    Well, you may choose to consider that to be the subtext, but I have never said that it was the “sole end and purpose”. What I have said is that Ulster unionists’ aim was to be excluded from a Nationalist State. The precise nature of what that exclusion would involve was of secondary importance. A provisional government was planned only as a last resort: the preference originally was not for “a sectarian statelet” but for Ireland (or Ulster) to remain represented in a single Union parliament. The idea of a NI parliament only emerged after the war and only in the context of Government hopes that two home rule parliaments in Ireland might eventually merge into one.

    Is such a liberal opinion so objectionable that people need to be “saved” from it? Or so terrifying, the sacrifice of a third or more of your numbers is justified to “save” the remainder? Am I allowed to find that mind-set horrifyingly totalitarian?

    The contents of a constitution yet to be devised (a) would not have been known to people in 1912 not possessed of the gift of seeing into the future; and (b) were, in any case, mere words that would not have altered the effect of all-Ireland home rule, namely to place unionists under a Nationalist Government within a Nationalist State, contrary to their deeply-held democratically-expressed wishes.

    Kensei

    Good luck with it. Can’t see anyone taking any notice, though.

  • Reader

    kensei: I am declaring my house to be a new Republic.
    Then you’ll need your own defence forces, your own police force, your own economy and utilities. Good relations with your neighbours might help with some of those. So will the oil revenue. So long as you have a verifiable majority of voters in your territory, there shouldn’t be a problem. Do you intend to allow emigration, or do you intend to choose the East-German (as was) policies?

  • Nevin

    Malcolm, I’ve just carried out a quick scan of Ferritor’s first chapter. Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Methodists appear not to be part of his ‘Church’. Likewise Unionists and unionism barely rate a mention. Surely there should have been room for these minorities in 90 pages.

  • willowfield @ 01:05 PM:

    The resolution to form a Provisional Government was made on 23 September 1911: which hardly qualifies as a last resort. It didn’t simply appear out of the air at that public meeting, either.

    Your point about the Constitution is valid. However, my intent (carried over rather crudely from previous postings, I fully admit) was to show that the 1922 settlement gave very little that hadn’t been in the 1912 Bill. I find it surprising that there was so little that was overtly sectarian in the SF programme, even after 1916 (let’s not confuse the issue with de Valera’s later shenanigans).

    Take that a stage further:
    You are espousing the the Unionist position.
    You defend that position on denominational grounds, in “saving” a proportion of Ulster Protestants from whatever.
    Yet the settlement on offer, from quite early on, amounted to a republican democracy.
    This was sedulously hidden from British royalist and unionist opinion.
    Even the infamous Oath (which became the shibboleth) asked only for “fealty” to the Crown as Head of the Commonwealth, but insisted on allegiance to the Constitution of the “new” Ireland.

    Surely the Unionist position would be more honest, more credible if it focused on the politics rather than the theocracy. As you present your argument, it doesn’t.

    At some stage in one of these threads I’m going to have to do a thing on the use of the words ‘nationalist’ and ‘Nationalist’. I’d like you, guessing that we’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, on similar issues, to be prepared to define your use of the terms, please.

    One last thought (if rather off-topic): the Home Rule/Treaty settlement largely worked, while the history of the NI statelet has been somewhat, err…, chequered.

    Very few nations have an unbroken democratic tradition in the 20th century. Of all the States that emerged in the aftermath of WW1 , only two (the Saorstát/RoI and Finland) managed to maintain democratic institutions from then to now. Finland, with about the same population as Ireland, had 25,000+ violent deaths in a few months of 1918. The whole 1913-23 Irish experience cost perhaps 8,000: not trivial, but remarkably few.

    The Saorstát/RoI, for all its faults, has maintained a written constitution and a corpus of judge-made law (comparable with the much-longer US and more-recent Federal German achievement, both of which owe something to the English tradition and, in the case of the FDR, even to the original Home Rule proposals). [The previous constitution-making attempt by the English (I am being specific here) was Cromwell’s Institute of Government, which died because even Cromwell scorned it.] Not a bad record, all in all.

  • Nevin @ 01:26 PM:

    I repeat: “Ferriter”.

    I suspect you cavil because it’s not that sort of book. However, try page 886 (of the 2005 paperback edition) and there’s enough references to Ulster and Unionism to keep most people grinding teeth. That’s what an index is for.

    You provoke an interesting distinction: Ferriter is writing in a post-religious society (which is what the RoI is becoming, to the expressed distress of many, bishops and German ambassadors alike). NI has yet to reach that phase of development.

    [That should cause trouble!]

  • Nevin

    “In short, what Balfour feared was what the Unionists wanted and got.”

    Malcolm, I suspect few Unionists would have disagreed with Balfour’s position though their emphasis and reasons would have been different.

    Can’t you find a less offensive and more appropriate term than ‘sectarian statelet’? Did SF make any efforts to kick Ne Temere into touch?

    “The whole 1913-23 Irish experience cost perhaps 8,000: not trivial, but remarkably few.”

    Perhaps you should that Partition for that, Malcolm. Irish nationalism had closed its ears to dissenting voices and Ferritor’s first chapter would seem to demonstrate that the malaise persists. The actions of SF down through the generations have negated it’s claim to being republican democrats.

  • Nevin

    “Perhaps you should that Partition for that, Malcolm”

    OOPs ‘thank’ for the first ‘that’ – mind moving faster than typing!!

  • kensei

    “So long as you have a verifiable majority of voters in your territory, there shouldn’t be a problem.”

    One man, one vote. Me. 100% desire for Kensoia. Hypothetically, supposing Westminster objects and legislates to deliver me into the tyrannical hands of our greedy fundamentalists cleric led government, am I morally justified in dropping the bomb to defend my freedom?

    They have never loved me, they just want my taxes….

  • lib2016

    I didn’t want to interupt an excellent discussion which is being carried on at a far higher level that I could aspire to.

    Hope we can see further clarification of the sectarianism question. If found guilty by common consent I promise to come quietly.

    For myself who has neither the intellectual resources nor the knowledge being displayed here the answer must be that democracy and republicanism seem more functional than any of their competitors.

  • Nevin

    Malcolm, Ulster and Unionism were around at the time of Chapter One, yet they barely feature.

    I’ve got the 2005 edition – and I can find no mention of Presbyterians or CoIs or Methodists in the index despite their distinctive contributions, north and south.

    I’m have trouble with the Ferrit and you need a slash – in the second

  • Turgon

    lib2016,
    “Hope we can see further clarification of the sectarianism question. If found guilty by common consent I promise to come quietly.”

    I can assure you: you have been guilty of sectarianism. I doubt I need to remind many people of the statements which so aptly demonstrated your sectarianism and from memory there were very few people leaping to your defence.

  • lib2016

    Turgon?

    I’m going to hate myself for rising to the bait but just how do you reckon that pointing out that republicans slaughtered innocent people at Enniskillen was sectarian?

    Irish republicans have frequently been guilty of sectarianism and I’m not stupid enough to pretend that I’ve never made that mistake but in this instance I just don’t see it.

    Irish republicans base their ideas mainly on politics while unionists are much more likely to drag clericalism into the mix. As commonly understood and indeed in my personal experience this means that unionists are portrayed by their opposition as sectarian while republicans are seen as zealots.

    Neither extreme is very attractive but we do have to learn to discuss the matter rather than call each other names and in that spirit I look forward to your reply.

  • Dewi

    “just how do you reckon that pointing out that republicans slaughtered innocent people at Enniskillen was sectarian?”

    Your response was to a question of mine – it read something like.

    “It was a war, and this was attack on the community that sheltered the enemy. Innocent people die in wars. Get over it”

    Not an exact quote but I’m sure that was the drift. I certainly got the impression of youdefending the act at the time. At best badly phrased ?

  • Suilven

    lib2016,

    You described Enniskillen as ‘fighting back’. Given that those who died were mainly OAPs and a young girl, I find it hard to believe that they harmed you or your community, directly or indirectly. Therefore to describe a bombing targeted at an event mainly commemorated by Protestants, as ‘fighting back’ smacks of an ‘any Prod will do’ attitude, and ergo can fairly be described as sectarian.

    It’s no use spinning, at this late stage, that you were paraphrasing the IRA position – it’s clear, reading the initial post, that you were disseminating your own opinion. You should stand by it, if so.

  • Turgon

    lib 2016,

    Well I guess I am just still have a problem with your comments (see below) and your complete lack of apology for them.

    “As for Enniskillen itself – the nationalist population was under attack from the British Army and the community which backed them. They fought back and when there is violence innocent people get hurt….end of story. ”

    Then for good measure we have you comparing the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries and explaining the moral superiority of the IRA.

    “I don’t accept any moral equivalence between organisations founded to defend the cause of liberty, equality and fraternity and those founded to defend inherited privilege.”

    Funny lib I showed your comments to my wife. She just went rather pale and said “Oh dear”. Remember lib some people (my wife) knew those who your less immoral friends murdered that day.

    But of course we have a more recent offering on this very thread
    “To attack what was locally regarded as a demonstation of armed unionism was wrong. It was not sectarian. ”

    So to remember the dead of two world wars is a “demonstration of armed unionism” is it?

    I guess my father in law spent three and a half years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp for armed unionism did he?

    You do not need to apologise for your repugnant bigotry but do not try to hide behind new comments. You stated that the Enniskillen murders were non sectarian, not me. You claimed that the IRA were morally superior to the loyalist terrorists not me. And yes; I am going to keep on reminding you of that fact. Get used to it.

  • willowfield

    Malcolm

    The resolution to form a Provisional Government was made on 23 September 1911: which hardly qualifies as a last resort. It didn’t simply appear out of the air at that public meeting, either.

    For goodness’ sake, I meant the provisional government was only to be formed as a last result … not that the policy was formed as a last resort.

    Your point about the Constitution is valid.

    Thanks.

    However, my intent (carried over rather crudely from previous postings, I fully admit) was to show that the 1922 settlement gave very little that hadn’t been in the 1912 Bill. I find it surprising that there was so little that was overtly sectarian in the SF programme, even after 1916 (let’s not confuse the issue with de Valera’s later shenanigans).

    Look, the choice of words of constitutions; the inclusions or exclusions of provisions in bills; the absence of overt or covert sectarianism from post-1916 SF programmes were all inconsequential to unionists who were opposed to absorption into a Nationalist State.

    Surely the Unionist position would be more honest, more credible if it focused on the politics rather than the theocracy. As you present your argument, it doesn’t.

    ??

    Unionists were opposed to home rule – honestly and credibly. They openly and honestly articulated fears about being dominated by a people defined and identified in opposite religious terms to themselves. As was entirely reasonable.

  • Dewi

    “Unionists were opposed to home rule – honestly and credibly. They openly and honestly articulated fears about being dominated by a people defined and identified in opposite religious terms to themselves. As was entirely reasonable.”

    Noew less than 50% attend Mass regularly in the 26 counties. The definition of Ireland in religious terms is disappearing rapidy. Surely this changes the whole political dynamic on the Island….although dynamic maybe not the right wrong. A patient re-discovering of each other.

  • lib2016

    Turgon et al.,

    Innocent people do get killed in wars, and one well supported version of what has happened in Ireland is that of a long drawn out war for national freedom with Irish unionists caught on the wrong side of history.

    Whether the British Army murders their way through Iraq, Afghanistan or West Belfast they still qualify as murderers in the opinion of most people worldwide.

    No spinning by defenders of defunct empires can change that nor will hysterical outbursts stop me posting that opinion.

    I learned the hard way not to drive too close to British Army patrols in the early 70’s. If others preferred to demonstrate their loyalty to the largest tyranny which has ever existed on this earth then they really can’t expect too much sympathy on a forum where their unfortunate deaths are seen merely as fodder for unionist propaganda. Though you show no respect for your dead don’t expect others to sink to that level.

    Did the four million Indians starved to death by the British Empire during the Second World War not also have wives and children? Do we all not suffer alike or do the ruined lives and early deaths of exploited Irish peasants over many centuries still count for nothing?

    And of course the War Memorials and the rituals associated with them are the perfect excuse for unionists to pose as being more British than the British.

    Wave your shrouds, lads. It will alienate your few possible allies all the more. As for me I’ll mourn all the dead equally.

  • páid

    There are one or two well-read folk contributing here.

    Another rather well-read republican Irish Protestant, by the name of Mansergh, maintains that partition was inevitable from about 1911.

    As our Máirtín is regarded as the top brain in the Irish Govt. on matters Northern, this viewpoint explains a lot.

    Treason, rebellion, disloyalty, freedom-fighting, call it what you will; – if it was inevitable, it was, well….inevitable.

    Nevin and willowfield, I’ll try and come up with a nicer description of (maximise the land, minimize the Taigs) NI than ‘sectarian statelet’.

    Ye might do me a favour in return of not calling it Ulster.

  • páid @ 05:30 PM:

    Is that from Máirtín Mansergh’s collection of essays, published by Mercier? I’ll have to read it.

    Nicholas Mansergh (the Da’) would seem to push the inevitability thing a bit further back:
    … in the long unhappy history of Anglo-Irish relations only one event [the War of Independence] is more truly tragic than the rejection of Home Rule in 1886. The opportunity of settlement had come, perhaps the greatest of English statesmen was ready to grasp it and yet the unique chance was destroyed by a failure in perception whose consequence not even time can wholly repair.

    By the way, I’m surprised to get away with my repeated use of “the War of Independence”. I thought I was pushing political correctness there.

    Hey ho, back to Emmylou Harris and some real work.

  • lib2016

    “..I’m surprised to get away with my repeated use of ‘the War of Independence'”

    Were you referring to the First or Second War of Independence? 😉

  • lib2016 @ 05:56 PM:

    By “first”, do you imply the one that Brian Borúma concluded? If so, it’s a longer count than that…

    You so-and-sos keep distracting me: give over!

  • Turgon

    lib 2016,
    “As for me I’ll mourn all the dead equally.”

    Except of course that republican paramilitaries were morally superior to loyalist ones in our book.

    Except of course that Enniskillen was non sectarian and of course it was a case of the nationalist community “fighting back” and that was sad but so what in your book. Tel me lib 2016 which of those who died that day were oppressing the nationalist community?

    “they really can’t expect too much sympathy on a forum where their unfortunate deaths are seen merely as fodder for unionist propaganda. Though you show no respect for your dead don’t expect others to sink to that level.”

    So that is the level of your sympathy for those murdered by your morally superior friends “not too much” and all you can manage is that the deaths were “unfortunate”.

    As to “And of course the War Memorials and the rituals associated with them are the perfect excuse for unionists to pose as being more British than the British.”

    No as I said we go because my late father in law spent three and a half years in a Japanese POW camp. I go because my and my wife’s relatives fought in two world wars. I can assure you my attendance is not “posing”. Still one can begin to understand the mentality of your pathetic attempts to justify your morally superior friends actions’ by accusing us of having “the perfect excuse for unionists to pose as being more British than the British.”

    Keep spinning lib. I do not think many will take your “mourning” too seriously.

  • Dewi

    Lib2016 – was the Enniskillen bombing right or wrong ?

  • Nevin

    páid, I understood that 6 was a compromise between the Unionist 9 and the Nationalist offer of 4. Also, IIRC partition was officially recognised in a tripartite agreement in December 1925 but it didn’t stop Dev reneging.

    MM was also reported in a history lecture down in the south-west IIRC that he and Alex Reid drafted the IRA cessation document in 1994.

  • Nevin

    What’s with the fada? I have an email from the great man which ends:

    “With best wishes,
    Yours sincerely,

    Martin Mansergh”

  • Nevin @ 08:12 PM:

    In my case it was:

    part irony (he is one of the few TDs and other worthies not dignified bilingually on wikipedia and the like) and

    part a gesture of solidarity with another posh southern Protestant who provides a rotten role model for any young Protestant Irishman. Let us also remember As the scion of an Anglo-Irish family, Dr Mansergh was educated in a British public school, speaks with a posh English accent, and has the air of an English gentleman.

    Anyone who gets up the nose of Eoghan Harris like that (Sunday Independent, October 9th and 23rd, 2005) can’t be all bad.

  • Nevin

    Still, Malcolm, it was very decent of him to reply to me with the confirmation that I sought.

  • POL

    Hey guys maybe ulster day was just an example of the Protestant work ethic, you know found the time between three jobs to to self mutilate and sign a petition(did they have all night garages in them days).

  • Objectivist

    The clue’s in the name: Ulster Volunteer Force.
    That mean While ultimately unionists would have preferred the whole of Ireland to remain in the Union as was, in practice the moves in Ulster were towards Ulster exclusion, cf. plans for provisional Ulster government, etc. (And the UVF wasn’t formed until 1913.),

    That means nothing. The historical record is quite clear. By raising Cain in one part of the island the covenanters were trying to stymie Home Rule for the *whole* island. To suggest otherwise is to deny historical realities. This was particularly true of their leader the Dubliner Carson who in fact knew little and had no emotional connection with Ulster. He wanted to use Ulster to make sure his beloved Dublin stayed in the U.K..
    Please note how matters progressed – the whole island ( in terms of surface area) – 80% nationalist, a 9 county Ulster – 70% nationalist, the 6 co area – 50% nationalist. In other words the largest amount of nationalist territory that they could feasibly hang onto.A classical use of armed threat to maximise the tribal hegemony. Yes, the PIRA had excellent teachers.

  • páid

    Malcolm R,

    I was sure he wrote that partition was inevitable from 1911 but when I checked the Irish Times archive I found that he wrote on June 17 2006…

    “From 1914 on, when partition became virtually inevitable, and especially from 1921 to 1968, the two parts of the island did have separate histories”

    So I have been misquoting him, mea culpa. Though from what I have read (not as much as many) I suspect that inevitability came to be over a number of years. Indeed my trawling came up with a book I have never read – Michael Laffan, The Partition of Ireland, 1911–1925 (Dundalk, 1983).

    There is a point when differences between population groups, based on ethnicity, religion, language et cetera become so great that they form a basis for separate nations, depending of course on the conduciveness of the external environment.

    For good or evil, early in the twentieth century, this point was passed in Ireland. My own opinion is that these differences between North and South have passed the HW mark, but in regard to the next 50 years……where we goes, I don’t knows.

  • páid

    And my use of Máirtín is just playfulness, cod familiarity.

  • Lib2016

    Dewi,

    The murder of innocent people is always wrong. In the case of the Enniskillen massacre it was not only wrong but also harmful to the republican cause. In my view there are no possible grounds for justifying it.

    To explain why (in my opinion) it happened is no more a justification of murder than saying that because of their extreme racism the Nazis persecuted the Jews is a justification of Nazism.

    Unfortunately any attempt to explain why that murder and others happened is viewed in some quarters as a defence of those murders. It is, of course, no such thing.