So what is a Republican party?

El Mat has been told by some of his fellow writers that the SDLP cannot be defined as a Republican party because that is not the way it is perceived by others. That is, as he points out, an almost impossible point to prove one way or the other. So, he asks, what makes one party a Republican when they say they are, and another, which makes precisely the same claim, not?

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  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Ermmm….. I luv the Royals HarryFlashman, and I actually read the info on the Ceefax pages as I idly browsed through them.

  • joeCanuck

    I wonder how much power the monarch actually has. She must have some influence, I guess, given that the Prime Minister has to regularly report to her.
    For example, can she, does she, reject any of the names on the list provided to her by the government(?) of people proposed for “honours”?

  • willowfield

    KENSEI

    The theory matters, because it has concrete effects.

    The reality matters: Parliament is elected by the people – the fact that “in theory” power transcends from God does not matter!

    (NB Half of Parliament is elected by the people.)

    Just like in the Republic of Ireland! You probably know, though, that the House of Commons is where power resides, just like it is the Dáil where it resides in the South.

    Parliament (via the Monarch) is the source of sovereignty and not the people.

    Parliament is elected by the people!

    Unless Parliament removes or amends all the relevant legislation guaranteeing you the right to vote.

    Indeed, but Parliament represents the people, so if that were to happen it would be the people taking away their own rights. Just as the people in Southern Ireland could vote in a referendum to take away their own rights.

  • kensei

    “The reality matters: Parliament is elected by the people – the fact that “in theory” power transcends from God does not matter!”

    Rather than retype every time you reply to me willow, I think I’ll just avail of Ctrl-C:

    It matters, and it has concrete results. Aside from the obvious, like The Monarchy and House of Lords (which still remains a reasonably powerful institution, and totally unelected), it means that for example, in the UK if a law is declared unlawful then it remains in force until Parliament does something about it; in a Republic, it is struck off immediately and ceases to be. It means that there is no codified Constitution, and no way to appeal to inalienable rights in the same way as in the US. In the Republic, the President has refused to dissolve Parliament and asked the parties to try and form a coalition. Monarchical interference in UK politics in such a fashion is unthinkable.

    It means Gordon Brown can refuse a referendum on the EU treaties, and the Republic must have one because it affects the Constitution and the people are sovereign.

    I would argue it has more subtle effects on attitudes to a range of things as well, and the linger of the idea that who were born matters too. The continued deference to the Royal Family stupefies me.

    “Just like in the Republic of Ireland! You probably know, though, that the House of Commons is where power resides, just like it is the Dáil where it resides in the South.”

    The Senate is elected and has terms though not by general vote. It also has very limited powers, even in comparison with the House of Lords. It needs reform though.

    Power in the Republic rests ultimately with the people, which is why you’ll notice they tend to have many more referendums. The Supreme Court is also as powerful as the Dáil, which is absolutely not the case in the UK.

    “Parliament is elected by the people!”

    You have said. I am not suggesting the UK isn’t a democracy, merely that it isn’t a de facto Republic.

    “Indeed, but Parliament represents the people, so if that were to happen it would be the people taking away their own rights. Just as the people in Southern Ireland could vote in a referendum to take away their own rights.”

    Nope. People vote representatives who are free to then vote in any manner they wish – even if it is outside their original mandate and opposed by the people. Additionally, the people in the South could vote to restore their rights any time. The only path open in the UK would be revolution.

    Again, it’s not a matter that the UK is not a democracy, but whether it is a de facto Republic.

  • lib2016

    In Britain the highest authority is the Queen acting through Parliamenti.e. top down. In a republic the highest authority is the will of the people i.e. bottom up.

    In many discussions on this board there is a basic cultural difference in the way our two communities think about society. Certainly it seems to me to be why unionists appear to have such a dependency culture as opposed to republicans, here or elsewhere.

    Surprised this topic hasn’t come up before. AAAGH! What have I typed? Somebody stop Pete quick.

  • lib2016

    The Queen does have real power but with no written Constitution the limits of that power aren’t known.

    One thing I do know is that when the Conservative Party couldn’t agree on a Prime Minister in the early 70’s the Queen nominated a Scottish nobleman.

    He did get the job but the Conservatives then introduced democracy into their system. Up until then it was left to a leader to emerge from among the greybacks of the Party, many of them also unelected.

    Similar thing happened to a Governor in Australia a while back and that helped in the push towards a republic.

  • willowfield

    KENSEI

    It matters, and it has concrete results. Aside from the obvious, like The Monarchy and House of Lords (which still remains a reasonably powerful institution, and totally unelected), it means that for example, in the UK if a law is declared unlawful then it remains in force until Parliament does something about it; in a Republic, it is struck off immediately and ceases to be.

    Well, that’s not really a big deal. Parliament represents the people: if Parliament doesn’t do anything and the people think it should, then the people can change Parliament. And if, by illegal, you mean it is contrary to European law or to the ECHR, then citizens may bring a case to the relevant European court.

    It means that there is no codified Constitution, and no way to appeal to inalienable rights in the same way as in the US.

    Again, the absence of a codified constitution is no big deal. And it is possible to “appeal to inalienable rights” because the UK is signed up to the ECHR.

    In the Republic, the President has refused to dissolve Parliament and asked the parties to try and form a coalition. Monarchical interference in UK politics in such a fashion is unthinkable.

    Big deal. These are constitutional details that differ from state to state. At the end of the day, the people, through parliament, are sovereign; the UK is a democratic state ruled by a government accountable to the people; with a head of state whose role is merely symbolic.

    It means Gordon Brown can refuse a referendum on the EU treaties, and the Republic must have one because it affects the Constitution and the people are sovereign.

    Wow. That makes such a difference. Imagine not having a referendum on an EU treaty!

    You have said. I am not suggesting the UK isn’t a democracy, merely that it isn’t a de facto Republic.

    But it is – republic means rule by the people, and the UK is ruled by its people in the same way as formal republics are.

    Nope. People vote representatives who are free to then vote in any manner they wish – even if it is outside their original mandate and opposed by the people.

    That’s how all parliaments work.

    Additionally, the people in the South could vote to restore their rights any time. The only path open in the UK would be revolution.

    No: they could just elect a different Parliament!

    PS. If the UK codified its constitution, “inalienable rights” and all, would you accept that it was a de facto republic?

    LIB

    In Britain the highest authority is the Queen acting through Parliamenti.e. top down. In a republic the highest authority is the will of the people i.e. bottom up.

    That’s merely theory. In reality power resides with the people who elected Parliament to which the PM is accountable. The Queen has no political power and is merely a symbol.

  • lib2016

    Willowfield,

    “The Queen has no political power…”

    Simply untrue. The limits of that power are untested but you can be sure that it will be exercised in favour of the status quo in most situations.

    Not a happy prospect for anyone who wants to modernise Britain and one more reason why Irish independence is a good idea. Ruritania might attract the tourists but gimmee Dell any day.

  • kensei

    Willow

    Your argument is your normal one:

    Well that doesn’t matter
    Well that doesn’t matter either
    Sure why would that worry you?
    Excetera.

    Boring. I’m not going to go through and go “Yes it does” for every one. I believe they do, and just on one of them – requiring referendums about EU treaties does make such a difference. It means that either the UK would be out of Europe, or the whole political discourse on the issue would be different and framed by the fact the people had spoken repeatedly on the issue.

    If the UK codified it’s Constitution it would be a lot closer to being a “de facto Republic” but still short if Parliament remained the source of sovereignty. And people debate if the Irish Free State was truly a Republic because it had a King as Head of State so I doubt scholars would buy it.

    You are your normal ultra defensive, countenance-no-alternative-views because they don’t matter self if the UK is criticised. But it’s only a criticism if you favour Republican government. By all means argue for Constitutional monarchy. Just don’t claim it’s actually a Republic at the same time.

  • willowfield

    Kensei

    Your argument is your normal one: Well that doesn’t matter Well that doesn’t matter either Sure why would that worry you? Excetera.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “normal one”, but the point being made is, indeed, that the constitutional details that you are so keen to emphasise do not matter in determining whether or not the UK is a de facto republic. By emphasising these details you are, in effect, conceding that the UK is a republic because you cannot point to anything of major significance that would suggest that it is not a de facto republic.

    These details differ from state to state, and some states which are formal republics do not, for example, require referendums on EU treaties! And some states – which are monarchies – do! By your logic is Denmark a republic but Italy is not?

    The reality is that the UK is governed by its people and is therefore de facto a republic. The presence or absence of codified constitutions and EU referendums do not alter that.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    ‘The reality is that the UK is governed by its people and is therefore de facto a republic.’

    The reality is that the UK is governed by its people and is therefore de facto a democracy!

    (not a republic)

  • willowfield

    If all you mean by “republic” is “absence of a monarch”, then I suggest that being a republic doesn’t really mean very much at all, given that Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and countless dictatorships around the world were and are republics.

  • kensei

    “I’m not sure what you mean by “normal one””

    As in it’s what you always do.

    “but the point being made is, indeed, that the constitutional details that you are so keen to emphasise do not matter in determining whether or not the UK is a de facto republic. By emphasising these details you are, in effect, conceding that the UK is a republic because you cannot point to anything of major significance that would suggest that it is not a de facto republic.”

    No willow, they very much do matter. If you think that concepts of sovereignty, applications of sovereignty, an unelected upper house, lack of fundamental law, lack of codified constitution with proper separation of powers, lack of separation of Church and state and so on have no significant impact on the discussion then having this discussion is useless. Which is also standard.

    “These details differ from state to state, and some states which are formal republics do not, for example, require referendums on EU treaties! And some states – which are monarchies – do! By your logic is Denmark a republic but Italy is not?”

    By what logic? I swear to God this is the last time I reply to you ever because it is a complete waste of time.

    Referendum do not in themselves prove anything either way and never claimed they did; judgements are made over a collections of things. Regardless, when talking de facto, then plainly underlying realities are more important than official titles. That seems totally self evident.

    On your question, no. There is more than one thing to take into consideration. And I think Ireland is the only state to have a referendum on the current treaty. The fact they gives me no end of Republican satisfaction and a vague sense of superiority to the other Constitutional arrangements in the EU.

    “The reality is that the UK is governed by its people and is therefore de facto a republic. The presence or absence of codified constitutions and EU referendums do not alter that. ”

    No, as has been said it means it is a democracy. It does not mean it is a Republic.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Willowfield – ‘If all you mean by “republic” is “absence of a monarch”, then I suggest that being a republic doesn’t really mean very much at all, given that Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and countless dictatorships around the world were and are republics.’

    True, but so what!

    Saudi Arabia has a king. But he and his Saudi family could be described as a bit of a despot, as like many a monarch around the world in bygones days.

    We in the Republic of Ireland today could have had an Irish king or queen on a throne, and living here in Ireland, as like the respective monarchs of England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain. But the fact is we don’t. We do not have an ‘Irish’ king or queen. And a foreign monarch would be simply be absurd. The notion of blue blood is an anachronism today.

  • willowfield

    Kensei

    As in it’s what you always do.

    But it’s not what I always do.

    No willow, they very much do matter.

    And why do you think they matter so? I don’t see how the fact that some republics, for example, have referendums really matters in the big picture.

    If you think that concepts of sovereignty, applications of sovereignty, an unelected upper house, lack of fundamental law, lack of codified constitution with proper separation of powers, lack of separation of Church and state and so on have no significant impact on the discussion then having this discussion is useless.

    But your problem is that all those things are of marginal importance to the functioning of a democratic “republican” society in which – despite what you claim – the people are sovereign. It is not the form of a constitution that matters, but the substance of the constitution. It is not the means of appointing members of an upper house that matters so much as its powers relative to the elected house. It is not theory that matters: it is practice.

    By what logic?

    The logic that having a referendum on something means that a state is a republic, but not having a referendum means that it is not.

    Regardless, when talking de facto, then plainly underlying realities are more important than official titles. That seems totally self evident.

    I’m glad you agree. So you accept that the UK is, de facto, a republic, despite its title?

    On your question, no. There is more than one thing to take into consideration. And I think Ireland is the only state to have a referendum on the current treaty. The fact they gives me no end of Republican satisfaction and a vague sense of superiority to the other Constitutional arrangements in the EU.

    So either the Irish Republic is the only republic in Europe, or the EU referendum point was a red herring.

    No, as has been said it means it is a democracy. It does not mean it is a Republic.

    So your understanding of “republic” is merely an absence of a monarch. The democratic stuff doesn’t matter.

    GREAGOR

    True, but so what!

    So those proclaiming republicanism so self-importantly can be dismissed quite easily, since all they proclaim is the absence of a monarch. To them, a “republic” is achieved merely by not having a monarch even if in its place there is a vile dictatorship. Nothing very noble about republicanism.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Ah it tis Willowfield, Republicanism is a very noble idea, espoused by Thomas Paine in his ‘Rights of Man’ (and Oliver Cromwell too, bastard that he was too to Royalists and Catholics).

    It fits snugly with democracy!

  • The Dubliner

    [i]‘The reality is that the UK is governed by its people and is therefore de facto a republic.’

    The reality is that the UK is governed by its people and is therefore de facto a democracy!

    (not a republic)

    Posted by Gréagóir O’ Frainclín [/i]

    The reality is that one-third of the legislative assembly of the UK (the House of Commons, but not the House of Lords and the office of head of state) is governed by its people and is therefore one-third democracy and two-thirds dictatorship.

    The other reality is we started out debating what makes a party republican and ended up debating whether or the UK is a de facto republic (it isn’t).

  • The Dubliner

    The UK is one-third democracy; one-third monarchy, and one-third aristocracy. In short: a hybrid that badly needs to be reformed into a republic (and probably will be after the breakup of the union).

  • joeCanuck

    it is
    it isn’t
    it is
    it isn’t

    Enough already.

  • willowfield

    GREAGOR

    Ah it tis Willowfield, Republicanism is a very noble idea, espoused by Thomas Paine in his ‘Rights of Man’ (and Oliver Cromwell too, bastard that he was too to Royalists and Catholics).

    It may indeed be noble as espoused by Paine, but not by you, since your espousal of republicanism means merely the absence of a monarchy and therefore includes such ignoble examples as Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, etc.

    THE DUBLINER

    Your one-third suggestion is nonsense. In the UK, power resides in the House of Commons. The monarch is a mere symbol. The Lords are subservient to the Commons and, in any case, the aristocracy only makes up a minority of it, and only temporarily.

  • kensei

    willow

    This is the last time I reply, and just as a little advice as a casual aside. There are a number of Nationalist and Republican posters who haven’t commented on this thread. Since you already know exactly what it is they believe, that Republic is merely abscence of monarchy, and all that Constitutional stuff and theory doesn’t actually matter because you have the vote, and what they write definitely won’t make a blind bit of difference, you are missing a great opportunity to reply to them right now rather than waiting for them to actually post some text to formalise the whole progress.

    Think of the advantages – you don’t have to hang about the thread, having already pronounced The Truth. You don’t have to endless copy and paste and delete out the bits you don’t like. They don’t have to waste their time typing and won’t get confused by the idea that there is a possiblity of a two way discussion. Everyone wins!

  • pfhl

    Dubliner

    Earlier in your thread you have deemed sinn fein as being not republican because the provisionals refused to accept the democratic will of the irish people after the treaty was accepted. As a dubliner who do you to call an irish republican before the general election of 1918? irish republican was never endorsed by the democratic will of the people until then. If there were no republicans before this who did collins get his ideas from? Does this mean De Valera was unrepublican during the civil war but became republican again when he decided upon entering the dail?

    I wonder would the failure of the southern goverment to protect equality across the republic, as defined in the constitution, void its republican claim? I would be greatful if you could respond to one or two of these queries, i am confused.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    willowfield: “There are equal rights to all citizens in the UK. And the suggestion that class systems do not operate in republics is laughable. The supposed greatest republic of them all – the United States – has the greatest social division of any. ”

    Firstly, lacking a written constitution and having an unelected body within Parliment that has the power to modify and manipulate legislation and the operation of the state, the UK is not a true Republic. Arguably, with its lack of a written constitution, its not even properly a constitutional monarchy. The “constitution” is limited to whatever Parliment feels like and thinks they can get away with on any given day, with no guaranteed freedoms or liberties accrued to the people, nor limitations on the intrusions of government.

    Secondly, the division in the United States is economic, not social. As a result, there is more flexibility / chaos, as individuals go up and down the societal ladder. Class distinction, whilst not a dead letter in the US, is a diminished one, particularly in comparison to the UK.

  • Dewi

    Willow’s
    “The Queen has no political power and is merely a symbol”

    Agree with “is a symbol” – it’s the “merely” that’s strange and funnily enough fairly sure that many Unionists would agree with me. Like flags are symbols – and Christ knows what’s happened there since 1966 triggered by flags.

    From my point of view the Monarchy, now that memories of great wars are fading, is probably the stickiet glue in the Union. Me, I think that’s a bad thing, others might think it’s good – but on the generic point I think it’s powerful. I’ll do some digging for any evidence.

  • PaddyReilly

    Oliver Cromwell was not a Republican and England was never a republic. During the interregnum England was ruled by a junta (for some reason they spelt it junto then). Parliamentary rule could not be risked because it was impossible to come up with an electorate which would not restore the king. Cromwell was a military dictator.

    Equally, our Unionist friends are not monarchists. The whole William of Orange thing is about overthrowing any monarch you disagree with, and replacing him by one who suits you better. The general monarchist/Unionist guff relies upon imposing a settlement by force of arms, and then expecting those who are disadvantaged by it to put up with it meekly.

    Republican in Ireland refers stereotypically to those who resist this settlement to the point of taking up arms themselves. Now that we have some sort of consensus to proceed on, the nature of Republicanism is gradually evolving, from the Republicanism of Robespierre to that of George W. Bush. Somewhere along this line the SDLP will become mainstream republican, because the mainstream has evolved to resemble the SDLP.

  • kensei

    Dewi

    Actually, the Monarch is not merely a symbol. The Monarchy retains certain powers, like the power to dissolve Parliament and also a certain amount of patronage with regards to handing out honours, for example.

    That power is generally restrained by convention and the threat of it being removed if misused. But it’s none the less there, and if you are considering “de facto” Republicanism it is relevant, as much for the fact that the use of those powers might be constrained versus a republic because of the implied threat.

  • Dewi

    Kensei – you are right of course but “convention” largely means that such powers are controlled by Government. I still thing that the “symbolism” has a huge influence on people – over here and certainly with you. I’m trying to find some empirical polling eveidence – not much luck so far.

  • The Dubliner

    At the risk of going back on topic:

    A contextual definition of ‘Republicanism’ as it is practiced in Northern Ireland by those who have misappropriated the word from its meaning in the original context would be ‘the right of a self-appointed elite to use violence to seize power and impose their will on the public against the will of the public.’

    The meaning in the original Irish context of the War of Independence was ‘the right of a people to control their own destinies via self-determination in an independent and sovereign nation state.’

    In the modern Irish state, the meaning is ‘all citizens are entitled to equal civil, political and human rights which are written down in a constitution to hold the power of the state in check.’ It comes with a belief in egalitarianism and the rule of law. It is not necessary to advocate a united Ireland in order to be a republican.

    To be a republican you must uphold the principles of republicanism, in much the same way that cannot be a virgin if you do not practice sexual abstinence and cannot be a philanthropist if you horde your wealth. You cannot be a republican if you do not accept the right of the people to self-determination and if you do not accept the outcome of self-determination, i.e. what the people decide. You cannot be a republican if you do not accept the right of the people to elect their own government. You cannot be a republican if you do not accept the rule of law or the rights of the people as defined in a written constitution.

    I argue that PSF/PIRA are not republicans because they do not fit the definition of republican in all three critical areas as outlined above: they do not accept the right of the Irish people to freely elect their own government; do not abide by the rule of law, and did not accept the right of the Irish people, as determined by self-determination, to unite Ireland by exclusively peaceful means. I use the past tense here in regard to some aspects because it is possible that PSF may yet become a republican party, subject to it divesting itself of the assets it has accrued by organised crime and subject to it disassociating itself from all criminal elements including those it continues to glorify and provide de facto immunity to. Unlikely, but possible.

    The old IRA used violence because no political alternative was available. Ireland did not have self-determination, a sovereign parliament, equitable exercise of law, independence, and was denied its right to be a nation state, etc. When those aims were achieved, the use of violence became anti-republican, since it directly violated the principle of self-determination and those fascists who called themselves IRA (but clearly were not) did not, like the old oppressors, recognise the right of the Irish to a nation state or to freely elect their own government. They were against everything that actual IRA men died for. In no way were those fascists republicans and the only reason they were wrongly seen as republicans is because they stole the old historical names IRA and Sinn Fein and pretended that their violence was republican because it advocated unity to the detriment of all other factors and to the detriment of unity itself.

    So, in the north, there is only one republican party: the SDLP. The other nationalist group is just a bunch of defeated morons and fascist thugs who called themselves a republican party but who ensured that unity would not occur in any of our lifetimes, if ever.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Willowfield,

    ‘It may indeed be noble as espoused by Paine, but not by you, since your espousal of republicanism means merely the absence of a monarchy and therefore includes such ignoble examples as Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, etc.’

    You lie, for I never said such a thing! How did you manage such a gross misunderstanding.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    A book on the subject…

    The English Republic, 1649-60 by Toby Barnard

  • Garibaldy

    Dubliner says:

    “The meaning in the original Irish context of the War of Independence was ‘the right of a people to control their own destinies via self-determination in an independent and sovereign nation state.’”

    So apparently the United Irishmen, Young Ireland, the Fenians, Pearse and Connolly never existed.

    As I said at the very start of this thread. Republicanism in Ireland (the local variant of an international political philosophy) at its heart is and always has been about establishing an independent democratic secular republic governed by and in the interests of the ordinary people of Ireland, to be achieved by forging unity among all the people of Ireland behind this goal.

    The SDLP has been from its inception – despite the presence of some genuinely anti-sectarian people in it from day one – a Catholic nationalist party. A republican party is never has been and never can be while it is locked in communalist politics. It shares more with the communalism of the Provisionals on the one hand and the communalism of Daniel O’Connell (who was part of the forces that suppressed 1798) than it does with the United Irishmen, Young Ireland, the Fenians, or Connolly.

  • willowfield

    GREAGOIR

    Me: ‘It may indeed be noble as espoused by Paine, but not by you, since your espousal of republicanism means merely the absence of a monarchy and therefore includes such ignoble examples as Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, etc.’

    You: You lie, for I never said such a thing!

    You did.

    In response to this from me:

    ‘If all you mean by “republic” is “absence of a monarch”, then I suggest that being a republic doesn’t really mean very much at all, given that Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and countless dictatorships around the world were and are republics.’

    You said: “True, but so what!

  • willowfield

    KENSEI

    There are a number of Nationalist and Republican posters who haven’t commented on this thread. Since you already know exactly what it is they believe, that Republic is merely abscence of monarchy, and all that Constitutional stuff and theory doesn’t actually matter because you have the vote, and what they write definitely won’t make a blind bit of difference, you are missing a great opportunity to reply to them right now rather than waiting for them to actually post some text to formalise the whole progress.

    Oh dear, dear, dear, dear.

    It is not me who believes “that Republic is merely absence of monarchy” – it is Greagoir, and it is me who is arguing against him!

    How can you possibly think that is my position when I have been arguing the exact opposite against you for several posts – arguing that the UK is a de facto republic?

    That’s a real howler, Kensei.

    DREAD CHULTHU

    Firstly, lacking a written constitution and having an unelected body within Parliment that has the power to modify and manipulate legislation and the operation of the state, the UK is not a true Republic.

    But de facto it is.

    The “constitution” is limited to whatever Parliment feels like and thinks they can get away with on any given day, with no guaranteed freedoms or liberties accrued to the people, nor limitations on the intrusions of government.

    Parliament is elected by the people, therefore the constitution is determined by the people.

    Secondly, the division in the United States is economic, not social.

    It’s largely economic, just as it is in the UK.

    As a result, there is more flexibility / chaos, as individuals go up and down the societal ladder.

    Nonsense. There is very little social mobility in the United States. No more or less so than in the UK.

    Class distinction, whilst not a dead letter in the US, is a diminished one, particularly in comparison to the UK.

    Nonsense. Americans like to think of themselves as a classless society but they delude themselves. Class divisions, exacerbated by race, are as great, if not greater in the US than in the UK.

  • willowfield

    KENSEI

    Actually, the Monarch is not merely a symbol. The Monarchy retains certain powers, like the power to dissolve Parliament and also a certain amount of patronage with regards to handing out honours, for example.

    Those powers are all exercised by the prime minister.

    THE DUBLINER

    The old IRA used violence because no political alternative was available.

    Nonsense. They didn’t attempt any “political alternatives”. They murdered two policemen before the Dail had barely had time to meet, and their campaign continued in the absence of any attempts by SF to establish a republic peacefully.

  • Garibaldy

    Willowfield,

    What indications were there from Westminster that the government was making arrangements to respect the outcome of the 1918 election and leave? None. Soloheadbeg and the subsequent campaign did not happen in a vacuum. In fact, London resisted the outcome of the election, as we all know. So there is no evidence that there was an alternative.

  • RepublicanStones

    sure look at the treatment parnell recieved from the british establishment in his home rule efforts, and i don’t recall him being too violent. i suppose slander and forgeries are accepted weapons even in the commons today are they?

  • McKelvey

    “Here is the real clue – kingdom is simply a word, which are merely symbols – what is the reality behind the symbol?
    In the UK, the monarch may well reign, but, it is parliament that rules, it is parliament that has the ability to exercise state power and so forth. If the monarch’s role were tomorrow replaced by that of some president elected every few years, there would be no fundamental difference in how the British government operates. The UK is a de jure monarchy and a de facto republic. If someone want a real monarchy, I suggest Saudi Arabia”

    No, it is not a de facto Republic. Power passes from God to Monarch to Parliament to People. There is no notion of popular sovereignty in the UK. Your rights, all of them, exist by gift of Parliament. Parliament can take them away if it so desires.

    I actually agree with the bit about rights and Parliament. First, it proves my point that political power is exercised by Parliament rather than the Crown. Secondly, I would argue that in a state with an elected head of state – the same problem could also arise – the Patriot Act in the US for example. To reiterate something, the Crown may well reign in the UK, but, it is parliament that rules i.e. exercises political power.
    Incidentially, does not the Republic’s in its opening sentence not declare “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority…”? Suggesting that political legitimacy stems from God?

    It matters, and it has concrete results. Aside from the obvious, like The Monarchy and House of Lords (which still remains a reasonably powerful institution, and totally unelected), it means that for example, in the UK if a law is declared unlawful then it remains in force until Parliament does something about it; in a Republic, it is struck off immediately and ceases to be. It means that there is no codified Constitution, and no way to appeal to inalienable rights in the same way as in the US. In the Republic, the President has refused to dissolve Parliament and asked the parties to try and form a coalition. Monarchical interference in UK politics in such a fashion is unthinkable.

    I think that the point here is that it is if a law is declared unlawful – it is Parliament that has the power to act and it is Parliament’s responsibility rather than the Crown. The problem here is in the British judiciary system and its relation of power to the Parliament. Whether the head of state in the UK is elected or not, bears no real relation to this, admitted, problem. Incidentially, there is no legal document that guarantees “inalienable” rights in the United States. To digress, while the US has a Bill of Rights (largely modeled on the English one), the government could revoke these if they should wish to do so. It would be a very difficult and tedious process, but neither impossible nor illegal.

    It means Gordon Brown can refuse a referendum on the EU treaties, and the Republic must have one because it affects the Constitution and the people are sovereign.

    Its not that I don’t agree with this, but, I don’t think it disproves my original point. Whether that UK has a written constitution or not, or whether there is a constitutional guarantee for a referendum in certain circumstances or not. The U.K. is a de facto republic. Political power is exercised by the electorate through a reasonably democratically body i.e. Parliament, specifically the Commons

    I would argue it has more subtle effects on attitudes to a range of things as well, and the linger of the idea that who were born matters too. The continued deference to the Royal Family stupefies me.
    So, no, you are really, really not a de facto Republic. You are a Constitutional Monarchy. Some people prefer it, but I have little time, myself.

    Continued deference to ANYONE stupefies me. However, I guess where we differ is for me a Constitutional Monarchy is a de facto republic.
    An interesting debate, I appreciate your considered responses.

  • McKelvey

    An unelected and unaccountable monarch, fronting an aristocracy that holds political power as a birthright and a class system based on honours and privilege wherein all are subjects of the ruling elite and expected to bow before their majesty? Let’s see how that compares with a republic: an elected head of state who acts as custodian of a written constitution that grants equal rights to all citizens and eschews a class system. The UK masquerades as a de facto republic when it needs to pacify the plebs who advocate equality and democracy, but it is very definitely a monarchy, both de facto and de jure.

    Dubliner, you know as well as I that class systems based upon honours, privileges, elitism and so forth can be, and often are, as rampant in political systems with elected heads of state as those without them. For example, which state has a higher degree of social equality and political participation: the US or Sweden?

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Willowfield,
    yep, that’s right, I said ‘true, but so what.’

    But it doesn’t mean I endorse totalitarian dictorial states. I think you are just too willing to jump the gun and assume.

    Because such brutal and dictorial states arose from old monarchy set ups, the noble ideal of Republicanism, it’s essence of equality, democracy, etc… was twisted was it not, by individuals in such circumstances. Hitler, Stalin & co were not advocates of Thomas Paine’s writings. Is it difficult for you to differentiate?

    Hardline Unionist thinking is so straitjacketed. It’s incredible.

  • willowfield

    GARIBALDY

    What indications were there from Westminster that the government was making arrangements to respect the outcome of the 1918 election and leave?

    What overtures were made by SF? What attempts were made to negotiate independence?

    Soloheadbeg and the subsequent campaign did not happen in a vacuum.

    The fact that a double murder “did not happen in a vacuum” does not mean that it was necessary or justified, nor does it mean that alternatives to violence could not nor should not have been pursued first.

    In fact, London resisted the outcome of the election, as we all know. So there is no evidence that there was an alternative.

    “No evidence” that there was an alternative? What does that mean? Clearly there were alternatives that could have been pursued before violence was employed: a negotiated settlement could have been pursued; peaceful protest, etc., etc. An ultimatum and a deadline. Violence should only ever be used as a last resort. Only after other methods had been tried and failed would violence have been justified.

    GREAGOR

    yep, that’s right, I said ‘true, but so what.’

    Indeed – you said it was “true, but so what” that “republic” is merely the absence of monarchy and that “being a republic doesn’t really mean very much at all, given that Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and countless dictatorships around the world were and are republics”.

    But it doesn’t mean I endorse totalitarian dictorial states. I think you are just too willing to jump the gun and assume.

    I never said that you endorsed totalitarian dictatorial states. I merely observed that your espousal of republicanism – in contrast to that republicanism espoused by Thomas Paine – means merely the absence of monarchy and therefore includes such states. Paine’s republicanism amounted to much more than the absence of monarchy.

    Because such brutal and dictorial states arose from old monarchy set ups, the noble ideal of Republicanism, it’s [sic] essence of equality, democracy, etc… was twisted was it not, by individuals in such circumstances. Hitler, Stalin & co were not advocates of Thomas Paine’s writings. Is it difficult for you to differentiate?

    It’s not difficult at all for me to differentiate – that is why I have been differentiating and pointing out to you that republicanism is more than the absence of monarchy. It is you – in arguing that republicanism means merely the absence of a monarch – who are unable to differentiate!

    Hardline Unionist thinking is so straitjacketed. It’s incredible.

    I’m not sure of the relevance of this comment but I’d say almost any “hardline” thinking is straitjacketed. I’d also say simplistic thinking such as yours in respect of republicanism is straitjacketed, since it leads you to lump together democracies and dictatorships under the guise of republicanism.

  • Garibaldy

    Willowfield,

    Surely, after an election that makes clear a country wants independence, it is the job of the government to address that issue. The government in London did nothing in the month or so between the election and the meeting of the Dáil. Apart, of course, from arrest a whole lot of the people elected in 1918. Perhaps we might consider that when arguments about a negotiated settlement are raised. As for the vacuum argument, and the last resort. For 40 years there had been a huge majority in Ireland for Home Rule. The result? No Home Rule Parliament. And contradictory promises to both sides in Ireland during the war. There was no reason whatsoever to suppose that London would negotiate in good faith, and a huge amount of evidence to suggest that it wouldn’t. The denial of the democratic vote of 1918 made the violence that followed justified.

  • willowfield

    GARIBALDY

    Surely, after an election that makes clear a country wants independence, it is the job of the government to address that issue.

    I agree.

    The government in London did nothing in the month or so between the election and the meeting of the Dáil.

    Neither did SF. It was the duty of everyone to seek to avoid violence – both the Government and SF. The apparent absence of any moves to grant independence on the part of the Government did not absolve SF of the duty to pursue its goals peacefully in the first instance, resorting to violence only as a last resort.

    As for the vacuum argument, and the last resort. For 40 years there had been a huge majority in Ireland for Home Rule. The result? No Home Rule Parliament.

    Well, actually the result was legislation to establish a home rule parliament which was suspended because of the war. The onus was on the Government to implement that legislation after the war, however, the result of the 1918 election complicated matters greatly as home rule was replaced by a republic as the nationalist demand and there would have been little point in commencing the 1914 Home Rule Act. It was incumbent on both parties – the Government and SF – to seek a replacement of that Act, taking into account the new demand for a republic, but also the Ulster question which remained outstanding. It was incumbent on both parties to seek to do this without violence.

    There was no reason whatsoever to suppose that London would negotiate in good faith, and a huge amount of evidence to suggest that it wouldn’t. The denial of the democratic vote of 1918 made the violence that followed justified.

    I am very concerned by your eagerness to justify murders and violence. Do you not accept the generally-accepted standard in western society that violence must only be used as a last resort? If not, that is despicable. If so, then it is ludicrous to suggest that all non-violent avenues had been explored prior to the beginning of the IRA campaign in January 1919. It is ludicrous to suggest that during that month, SF explored and exhausted all non-violent avenues of achieving their aims. Indeed, it is a lie to suggest that. Was a negotiating party established and dispatched to London? Were any demands put to the Government? Were any protests organised? Were any efforts made to establish alliances with Opposition parties, or with members of the Government? Was the Government given a reasonable ultimatum to bring forward legislation to establish a republic within a reasonable time scale? None of this was done. SF hadn’t even got around to establishing the Dáil until the day of the shameful Soloheadbog murders.

  • kensei

    “I actually agree with the bit about rights and Parliament. First, it proves my point that political power is exercised by Parliament rather than the Crown. Secondly, I would argue that in a state with an elected head of state – the same problem could also arise – the Patriot Act in the US for example.”

    This is to miss the point. A Republic will not protect you from bad legislation, but it will very efficiently deal with ones that cross Constitutional lines. Sections of the Patriot Act have been declared illegal, IRC. That is it. they cease to be. IN the UK they will linger until Parliament deals with it, because the judiciary is not equal to the legislature and executive.

    “To reiterate something, the Crown may well reign in the UK, but, it is parliament that rules i.e. exercises political power.
    Incidentially, does not the Republic’s in its opening sentence not declare “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority…”? Suggesting that political legitimacy stems from God?”

    Indeed. But that power from the Divine derives to everyone equally, so in effect for Government to get it has to be constructed bottom up.

    “I think that the point here is that it is if a law is declared unlawful – it is Parliament that has the power to act and it is Parliament’s responsibility rather than the Crown. The problem here is in the British judiciary system and its relation of power to the Parliament. Whether the head of state in the UK is elected or not, bears no real relation to this, admitted, problem.”

    You are focusing on the head of state. My point isn’t really about the Monarch. It is merely to illustrate that power in the UK comes flows the top down, rather than from bottom up. In practice of course, a good deal comes from the bottom – the state is after all democratic. But that theory still has residual effects, and some of them make a difference, right now, today.

    The argument that Parliament made the law and Parliament should deal with it is consistent in itself. It simply is not a Republican one, because in a Republic it is the people and not Parliament who are sovereign and Supreme: if the Constitution is transgressed, then Legislature and Executive must bow to it.

    “Incidentially, there is no legal document that guarantees “inalienable” rights in the United States. To digress, while the US has a Bill of Rights (largely modeled on the English one), the government could revoke these if they should wish to do so. It would be a very difficult and tedious process, but neither impossible nor illegal.”

    You are wrong. The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments of the Constitution of the United States. They cannot be amended except by further amendment of the Constitution, which requires the ascent of the people. This doesn’t necessarily referendum in the US (though I think in some places it would) but it is fairly torturous process anyway.

    “Its not that I don’t agree with this, but, I don’t think it disproves my original point. Whether that UK has a written constitution or not, or whether there is a constitutional guarantee for a referendum in certain circumstances or not. The U.K. is a de facto republic. Political power is exercised by the electorate through a reasonably democratically body i.e. Parliament, specifically the Commons”

    That is not enough in itself to make it a “de facto” Republic. How power relates to the people, how that power is balanced across different branches of Government and the other issues also matter, and are important feature sof Republican Government.

    “Continued deference to ANYONE stupefies me. However, I guess where we differ is for me a Constitutional Monarchy is a de facto republic.”

    And this is why monarchy persists in the UK!

  • Garibaldy

    Willofield,

    Violence should be pursued only as a last resort, of course. But the London government knew fine well what the programme of SF was. After all, it was arresting its members precisely for promoting exactly that political programme. If SF had dispatched a delegation to London, the most likely result was arrest. As for the Home Rule Act, it was clear from the actions and words of the London government that even that extremely belated recognition of Irish electoral desires was going to be violated. In an ideal world, SF and London would have begun negotiations for a withdrawal immediately after the elections. But it was not an ideal world. Rather there were very many reasons for suspicions. On the one side there were those who were determined to use violence within the independence movement; on the other, a government with lots of selfish strategic and economic interests in Ireland that did not want to surrender direct control of Ireland, as it had proved over the last several decades and would prove even more over the next few years. So I would not say that the actions of those seeking to see the results of the 1918 election implemented were unjustified.

    One other point. You are judging people by our standards and in our political conditions. Rather than by the standards of the time, when violence was more acceptable, especially in a world that had just seen tens of millions killed in the war. So the weight not just of recent Irish history, but also international events, has to be factored into any consideration of what other options there might have been.

  • RepublicanStones

    so what your really trying to say willow is that the Republic is an illegal state ?

  • willowfield

    KENSEI

    The argument that Parliament made the law and Parliament should deal with it is consistent in itself. It simply is not a Republican one, because in a Republic it is the people and not Parliament who are sovereign and Supreme

    Parliament represents the people!

    GARIBALDY

    Violence should be pursued only as a last resort, of course.

    I’m relieved that you agree, but perplexed, then, as to why you are justifying IRA murders and an IRA campaign that was initiated not as a last resort.

    But the London government knew fine well what the programme of SF was. After all, it was arresting its members precisely for promoting exactly that political programme. If SF had dispatched a delegation to London, the most likely result was arrest.

    Of course the Government knew what the SF programme was. That does not absolve SF of the duty to seek to achieve it peacefully before resorting to violence. SF (or at least the IRA) failed to explore peaceful means.

    As for the Home Rule Act, it was clear from the actions and words of the London government that even that extremely belated recognition of Irish electoral desires was going to be violated.

    To what actions and words do you refer?

    In an ideal world, SF and London would have begun negotiations for a withdrawal immediately after the elections. But it was not an ideal world. Rather there were very many reasons for suspicions. On the one side there were those who were determined to use violence within the independence movement; on the other, a government with lots of selfish strategic and economic interests in Ireland that did not want to surrender direct control of Ireland, as it had proved over the last several decades and would prove even more over the next few years. So I would not say that the actions of those seeking to see the results of the 1918 election implemented were unjustified.

    Then you contradict yourself as you have already conceded that violence should only be used as a last resort.

    One other point. You are judging people by our standards and in our political conditions. Rather than by the standards of the time, when violence was more acceptable, especially in a world that had just seen tens of millions killed in the war. So the weight not just of recent Irish history, but also international events, has to be factored into any consideration of what other options there might have been.

    The principle that violence should be used only as a last resort was well established in 1918.

    REPUBLICANSTONES

    so what your really trying to say willow is that the Republic is an illegal state ?

    Don’t be ridiculous.

  • RepublicanStones

    so willow Churchill himself called Collins a paitriot, yet your in a position to know all the machinations and permutations of what was going on in the british govt, and irish nationalism at the time and can confidently say churchill was wrong?

  • willowfield

    Your irrelevant contributions are a distraction: please desist.

    I commented neither on Collins’ status as a “patriot”, nor Churchill’s opinion of Collins, and I do not intend to comment on such irrelevancies.

  • Garibaldy

    Willowfield,

    I believe that in 1919 any other course of action had no prospect of success. I’m not being contradictory. I said in an ideal world negotiations would have taken place. But it wasn’t an ideal world. In fact it was far from it. In an ideal world, the new government would have said ok, we recognise the election result and will act accordingly. Instead it continued to round up the people elected. Not the peaceable conditions we are used to. As I said there is the weight of four decades of history at least to be taken into account. 1918 did not just emerge from nowhere.

    I don’t agree that it was a murder campaign. If a majority of a country decides to pursue independence and is then frustrated from doing so by the actions of another country, that is grounds for a legitmate campaign of violence. Be it in Vietnam, Ireland, Algeria or whereever else. That didn’t happen over the last 4 decades in NI, hence the violence there was illegitimate.

    As for London’s actions, promising unionism Home Rule would be frustrated if unionists fought in the war, while saying that it would be implemented if nationalists fought in it.

  • RepublicanStones

    irrelevant? sure, after all you seem to know what every politician was thinking and was going to do.

    oh yes promising two sides conflicting things, rather like the balfour decleration and the hussein letters…..ahh the great british empire, so ‘noble’.

  • willowfield

    Garibaldy

    I believe that in 1919 any other course of action had no prospect of success.

    That may well be your belief, but it doesn’t change the fact that SF had a duty to explore and exhaust peaceful means before resorting to violence, even if that exploration ultimately proved futile. It would only have been by doing so that your belief could have been demonstrated to be true. It is not good enough to resort to violence based on a “belief” that no other course of action had any prospect of success: there is a duty to test that belief.

    I’m not being contradictory. I said in an ideal world negotiations would have taken place. But it wasn’t an ideal world.

    The absence of an “ideal world” did not absolve SF of its duty to first seek to achieve its aims peacefully before using violence only as a last resort.

    I don’t agree that it was a murder campaign.

    There can be no doubt that the slaying of the two constables in Soloheadbog was murder. I sincerely hope that you do not seek to justify those killings. I agree, however, that what developed later was not necessarily a murder campaign.

    If a majority of a country decides to pursue independence and is then frustrated from doing so by the actions of another country, that is grounds for a legitmate campaign of violence.

    But the Soloheadbog slayings were not legitimate. At that point the IRA acted alone, it was not subject to the Dáil and therefore acted without proper authority. Indeed, IRA activities carried out outside the auspices of the Dáil cannot be considered to be legitimate by any democrat, for any democrat must believe that the actions of armed forces can only be legitimate if they are carried out under proper authority and accountable to the representatives of the people.

    As for London’s actions, promising unionism Home Rule would be frustrated if unionists fought in the war, while saying that it would be implemented if nationalists fought in it.

    That doesn’t indicate that negotiations would necessarily have been futile. Indeed, it indicates scope for compromise, since both the former and latter could only be achieved by negotiation and compromise (leading ultimately by partition).

  • Garibaldy

    Willowfield,

    On the belief thing. That is a judgment based on weighing the evidence of actions over decades. It’s also the conclusion come to by the majority of the people on the island, which is the important issue (as seen by subsequent support in elections). You say that there was a duty to explore other avenues. I, and they said, that the other avenues had been explored over several decades and got nowhere. Especially when the London government was arresting those involved in Sinn Féin, which won the election. I mean where is the scope for negotiation. Anyway, we’re not going to change each other’s minds.

    On Soloheadbeg. It’s so long since I read Dan Breen’s book that I can’t remember if he says the intention was to kill them or not when the operation was launched. But I think it was closer to an accident than outright murder, and was not intended as the opening of the campaign that emerged, but rather to acquire explosives to prepare for one.

    On the negotiations point and partition. Well it indicates that the overwhelming victory for a party wanting an independent republic was going to be frustrated. The refusal of London to begin withdrawal and the creation of NI was a violation of that vote. An anti-democratic act. But we are where we are, and that does not justify subsequent actions.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Willowfield, well fair play to ye!

    I dunno why ye keep harping on about it
    but I never said that Republicanism ONLY involved the absence of a monarchy!

  • willowfield

    Garibaldy

    On the belief thing. That is a judgment based on weighing the evidence of actions over decades. It’s also the conclusion come to by the majority of the people on the island, which is the important issue (as seen by subsequent support in elections).

    You cannot retrospectively justify actions based on the subsequent opinions and beliefs of other people about those actions. The actions are either justified at the time or they are not. The beliefs of others did not absolve SF of the duty to explore and exhaust peaceful avenues before resorting to violence. Even if everyone in Ireland believed they should start killing immediately, the moral duty to use violence only as a last resort does not disappear: in such circumstances, everyone in Ireland, alongside SF, would have breached that duty.

    You say that there was a duty to explore other avenues. I, and they said, that the other avenues had been explored over several decades and got nowhere.

    If that is what they said and you say, then they and you are wrong, because the exploration led to an Act of Parliament being passed that would have introduced home rule were it not for the intervention of the war, and that was still on the statute book in January 1919. The circumstances in January 1919 were that Government policy (to introduce some kind of self-government for Ireland, but taking into account the Ulster question) was thrown into confusion by an election the previous month in which demands for home rule had been replaced by demands for a republic, and it is entirely unreasonable to expect that Government could possibly have worked out an alternative course of action and implemented it within the space of a month.

    Especially when the London government was arresting those involved in Sinn Féin, which won the election. I mean where is the scope for negotiation. Anyway, we’re not going to change each other’s minds.

    There was plenty of scope. Establishing the Dáil was a first step which was possible (as was proved by its establishment!). There was no need to kill anyone in order to establish the Dáil. There was scope for resolutions to be passed and communicated to the Government; for negotiations to be demanded; and for an ultimatum to be put to Government demanding that steps be taken to implement a republic within a reasonable time scale. All of this could have been done before the IRA began its campaign.

    On Soloheadbeg. It’s so long since I read Dan Breen’s book that I can’t remember if he says the intention was to kill them or not when the operation was launched. But I think it was closer to an accident than outright murder, and was not intended as the opening of the campaign that emerged, but rather to acquire explosives to prepare for one.

    I’ll defer to your knowledge on that one. I have never heard it described before as an accident but, if so, I admit that it alters my perception of the act. Nonetheless, it is still the case that the IRA was acting outside the auspices of the Dáil, and was therefore acting illegitimately.

    On the negotiations point and partition. Well it indicates that the overwhelming victory for a party wanting an independent republic was going to be frustrated.

    An “indication” is not good enough. There is a moral duty to explore avenues in order to establish whether the “indication” was accurate.

    The refusal of London to begin withdrawal and the creation of NI was a violation of that vote. An anti-democratic act. But we are where we are, and that does not justify subsequent actions.

    Now you’re bringing in the question of NI, which is a separate one to the question of whether IRA actions were legitimate and whether peaceful avenues had been exhausted before IRA actions began. It is not the case that the creation of NI was a violation of “that vote”, since “that vote” demonstrated overwhelming support for the creation of NI in what became NI.

    You are correct, though, that an “anti-democratic act” does not necessarily justify subsequent actions. Similarly, anti-democratic failure to act on the part of the Government in 1919 did not necessarily justify immediate IRA actions.

    GREAGOR

    I dunno why ye keep harping on about it but I never said that Republicanism ONLY involved the absence of a monarchy!

    You did. You said that it was “true” that a republic is “merely the absence of monarchy”.

  • Garibaldy

    On the first point you quote, I think I probably didn’t make myself clear. What I meant is that it seems to me that the majority of people in Ireland at the time would have seen Soloheadbeg as legitimate given that they continued to vote for SF. On your point about exhausting other avenues. I think it was reasonable to assume those avenues would get nowhere given the attitude of the London government as demonstrated before, during, and after the election through the arrest of SF people and the reluctance to leave. And given that it seemed inevitable that any attempt at negotiations would fail, it was legitimate to launch the campaign. All an ultimatum would have done was to have allowed crown forces to prepare better. Again, SF’s manifesto made its commitments clear, especially to creating alternative power structures through absentionism, the creation of courts etc.

    Violence should be a last resort. But there are practical implications regarding strategic surprise, the possibility of defensive but pre-emptive strikes etc which mean that it was legitimate in my eyes to do what was done rather than enter another round of fruitless negotiations while your people are being arrested, and given the large amount of proof of Britain not following through on its promises in the past. There was no need to kill anyone to establish the Dáil. But unfortunately there was to make it effective.

    On the NI issue. We didn’t think it was legitimate for Scotland and Wales to have separate governments when they had no Troy MPs but a tory government. I’d see the NI situation as analagous, though clearly you wouldn’t. We can agree to disagree.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Again Willowfield, I never said such words….
    ‘that “republic” is merely the absence of monarchy’

    You did however on the last page on post 15.

    You misquoted me or something. ha ha!

  • willowfield

    Garibaldy

    On the first point you quote, I think I probably didn’t make myself clear. What I meant is that it seems to me that the majority of people in Ireland at the time would have seen Soloheadbeg as legitimate given that they continued to vote for SF.

    Fair enough, but it remains the case that, even if that were so, that in itself doesn’t make the actions morally justified.

    On your point about exhausting other avenues. I think it was reasonable to assume those avenues would get nowhere given the attitude of the London government as demonstrated before, during, and after the election through the arrest of SF people and the reluctance to leave. And given that it seemed inevitable that any attempt at negotiations would fail, it was legitimate to launch the campaign. All an ultimatum would have done was to have allowed crown forces to prepare better. Again, SF’s manifesto made its commitments clear, especially to creating alternative power structures through absentionism, the creation of courts etc.

    Reasonable points, but the IRA actions in 1919 were done independently of SF and outside the control of the Dáil, and therefore without proper authority, and therefore illegitimately.

    … the possibility of defensive but pre-emptive strikes etc …

    You sound like G. W. Bush.

    On the NI issue. We didn’t think it was legitimate for Scotland and Wales to have separate governments when they had no Troy MPs but a tory government.

    Who is “we”? Many people did think it was legitimate, including, in respect of Scotland, the majority of people in Scotland! And hence so did I.

    GREAGOR

    Again Willowfield, I never said such words…. ‘that “republic” is merely the absence of monarchy’

    Well, I apologise if I misunderstood what you meant when you replied “true, but so what” at 1.54pm on 28th November.

  • Garibaldy

    Fair enough Willowfield. On the Scotland thing though, I don’t remember any Ulster unionists in the 1980s saying a separate Labour government should be set up in the areas of the UK where the Tories were a minority. Nor anyone else for that matter. Which is what I meant by ‘we’. This is different to the devolution debate.

    As for sounding like G.W., not an accusation I usually hear I admit. But if someone is going to punch you and you punch them first it’s a defensive pre-emptive strike, which is more what I had in mind than invading Iran.

    Just on the legitimacy thing. I should add that I think – and you seem to think too – that sometimes actions by minorities are legitimate based on the justness of the cause. No need to open another can or worms, but this is how I see 1916 🙂

  • dewi

    Breen didn’t describe it as an accident – just a consequence of an operation to get explosives which was resisted. Been reading stuff on those times and attitude to killing so different – and then think that time between 23 and 69 and 69 and 07 is fairly similar and those on here that post that historical context is relevant to ethics of killing should perhaps ponder on that.
    (Breen book exciting stuff by the way)

  • Garibaldy

    Dewi,

    Accidental in that they did not set out to kill the cops but to steal the explosives. The cops getting killed was an accident in the sense that things spun out of control when they resisted.

    As for your point that we today lack understanding how people in 69 viewed the taking of life (which I assume is your point), the difference is there is much more evidence, not least talking to people alive at the time, and involved in the events.

    As I said though on the argument about Che, it wasn’t that long after WWII. Nevertheless, latin america was very different to western Europe.

  • joeCanuck

    At the end of the day, it’s all an illusion.
    The only real power lies in the hands of the army and their choice to rule themselves or to let politicians do it. General Musharraf can probably explain it better than me.
    Barrel of a gun and all that.

  • willowfield

    On the NI issue. We didn’t think it was legitimate for Scotland and Wales to have separate governments when they had no Troy MPs but a tory government.

    Who is “we”? Many people did think it was legitimate, including, in respect of Scotland, the majority of people in Scotland! And hence so did I.

    GARIBALDY

    Fair enough Willowfield.

    A rare case of dialogue on Slugger leading (almost) to a kind of consensus. Let’s congratulate ourselves.

    On the Scotland thing though, I don’t remember any Ulster unionists in the 1980s saying a separate Labour government should be set up in the areas of the UK where the Tories were a minority. Nor anyone else for that matter.

    Nor do I. But I do remember calls for devolution by the Scottish Labour Party and Liberal Democrats.

    Just on the legitimacy thing. I should add that I think – and you seem to think too – that sometimes actions by minorities are legitimate based on the justness of the cause. No need to open another can or worms, but this is how I see 1916 🙂

    Not going there, suffice to say that 1916 was not one of those times.

  • Garibaldy

    Dialogue being productive. Maybe we can be slugger’s very own chuckle brothers.