“We were right to worry about this man”

On Radio 4 tonight a memoir of a great might-have been: Could the Ulster Workers’ Council strike of 1974 have been overcome and the powersharing Executive saved? It turns out that wasn’t the only relevant question, because secretly at the time, the Prime Minister Harold Wilson was planning a British withdrawal, under the fig leaf of Dominion status, in which “Ulstermen would remain subjects of the Queen.” This has since become known but the clincher was produced in the programme, “the Doomsday Document.” Listen to the horror in Garret FitzGerald’s voice, as his worst fears at the time are confirmed. Unfortunately we didn’t get to hear the timescale nor the terms of withdrawal. But Wilson didn’t get round to those, he was often a politician of the pointless gesture towards problems he couldn’t solve – and there were many. Historian Paul Bew comments: It was a game of role reversal. The loyalists were bringing down the executive, thinking they were strengthening the Union whereas they were opening the door to a Prime Minister who wanted to destroy the Union… The Irish position was entirely logical. that despite the rhetoric, Britain should stay in the north.”

Garret FitzGerald, foreign minister. “It would have meant civil war. ..If we had expanded our army of only 11,000 it would have appeared like a takeover of the North.. The nationalist people in Belfast would have been besieged and we we wouldn’t have been able to help them… We were right to worry about this man

Wilson’s plan was put to rest over a quiet dinner at Jim Callaghan’s cottage in west Cork in 1975, attended by FitzGerald and crucially I suspect, Jack Lynch, then opposition leader but soon to be Taoiseach again.

Says Bew: ” There was a conscious decision to close the door on a rather flaky period”

Amen to that.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    This was an extraordinary piece of Radio covering an extraordinary period which can be summed up neatly by one of my Granny’s favourite one-liners “Norn Iron – you couldn’t give it away”

  • NP

    I think Wilson was abit narky & maybe justifibly pissed off, after spending all that money on infrastructure etc. to appease the Unionists. The ungrateful bastards go & stab him in the back.

    The sheer horror from Dublin that they might have to iminently have to take resposibility for NI. had me laughing. United Ireland up for grabs…. no thanks too many rough northern types to deal with.

  • cynic

    Now be fair to the Irish Government. They had had recent experience of the trainloads of ‘refugees’ who had colonised the Butlins camp at Mosney for the summers of 69 and 70 to ‘escape the Loyalist mobs’. Strangely the murdering traits of thsoe mobs seems to diminish in September when the summer was over and the kids returned to school in Belfast.

    I suspect the Irish Government saw the bill and panicked at the impact on an Ireland that was just starting to develop economically.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Brian,

    “and crucially I suspect, Jack Lynch”

    Didnt Gazza actually say Jacko was there?

  • NP

    Cynic :

    “They had had recent experience of the trainloads of ‘refugees’ who had colonised the Butlins camp at Mosney for the summers of 69 and 70”

    please tell me it aint true….. My mum always maintained they were concentration camps… now you’re telling me there were Redcoats !! Fecking Brit Imperialsm its like a cancer.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    I presume most of you newshounds saw the article in last Sunday’s Times with the heading IRA ‘passes intelligence to MI5’. I says to myself this will be worth reading. May I quote? “Intelligence gathered by the Provisional IRA is thought to have been passed to the British and Irish governments” and there’s more.”Political sources in Northern Ireland believe that the republican movement has passed on any useful information,as well as it’s assessment of the dissident threat, to Irish and British officials” Talk about cutting edge journalism! Talk about kick the sheep reporting! My sources tell me that it would do no harm if somebody would pass some intelligence to the Times reporters.And some people believe that the Times is a newspaper?

  • LURIG

    To be fair to the man he had Unionists off to a tee. “Who do these people think they are….spending all their lives sponging off the British State”. Unionists wanted to be British but wouldn’t embrace the will of British democracy so they embraced Loyalism. Let’s have a bit more openness about that period. Unionism, Loyalism & the British Security Services conspired to bring down Sunningdale and collectively waged a war of murder and intimidation to ensure it happened. Dark times indeed and to think these same duplicitous hypocrites are still banging on about the IRA Army council while Uncle Andy & Big Mervyn remain fully controlled and armed by Smiley’s People. Then again that says more about the weakness of invertebrate, incompetent Nationalist/Republican politicians who are being played like a fiddle by the DUP. It’s becoming more embarrassing by the day to watch these incompetent chocolate teapots whose heads have been turned by the shiny silver baubles of Stormont failing the Catholic community miserably.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    ………… and they haven’t helped the rest of us much either!

  • Donal

    they were concentration camps .. there were Redcoats

    See?She was right!

  • Greenflag

    Well the program seems to clear up why there was so much ‘dithering’ among the Labour Government at the time . Kenneth Bloomfields comments make sad listening .He seems to be the only who focuses on what the ‘failure’ of Sunningdale truly meant in terms of subsequent history .

    And yet here we are again folks over 30 years further on and awaiting another ‘Sunningdale ‘ collapse .

    And yet again the Republic’s Army is insufficiently equipped to be more than a token bystander if we are ever faced with another ‘doomsday’.

    But that’s all right -shure won’t our ‘neutrality ‘ and our underequipped and not so well trained soldiers eh manage?

    Had Wilson been able to force his withdrawal through we would have had ‘repartition’ in advance plus no doubt several thousand bodies to inter and tens of thousands of ‘refugees’.

    On the positive side Unionists would have had to endure a very quick learning in how to run a State without the financial buttressing of Westminster . Thirty years later they have ‘advanced’ to the point of looking for more financial ‘buttressing’ and so is their coalition partner .?

  • Harry Flashman

    So it’s confirmed; the British government wanted shot of its loyal “British” citizens in Northern Ireland and when given the opportunity to welcome back their separated “Irish” fellow citizens in the fourth green field the Irish government almost shits itself and knocks the idea on the head sharpish.

    Does nobody love us?

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    Harry,

    I’ve said it here before. It’s bad enough living next to the neighbours from hell without them turning up on your doorstep wanting to move in…..

  • Republic of Connaught

    I think Mr Fitzgearld was a little naive about Southern fears of Loyalist violence. Many loyalists might sound and act stupid, but I don’t believe they’re that stupid to bring an All-Ireland sledge hammer down on their heads with no British soldiers around to protect them.

  • This whole episode once again exposes the foolishness of the unionist stance with regard to the Dublin government. Not for the first time (or the last), their ‘friends’ in HMG in London were ready to cut them loose, but for the intervention of wiser counsel from their supposed enemies in Dublin. Will they ever get a bit of sense?

  • Driftwood
  • Driftwood…
    care to point out the relevance?

  • Ulsters my homeland

    UlsterManIrelandFan

    “[i]Not for the first time (or the last), their ‘friends’ in HMG in London were ready to cut them loose, but for the intervention of wiser counsel from their supposed enemies in Dublin. Will they ever get a bit of sense?”[/i]

    but that can’t be true, because LURIG and most Republicans think “Unionism, Loyalism & the British Security Services conspired to bring down Sunningdale”

    So what’s your stance? Do you go along with the idea HMG doesn’t want us, or that HMG colluded with us? which is it?

  • Paul Bew: “The Irish position was entirely logical”

    Ah, yes, nimbyism in action. Perhaps it’s worth noting that the earlier reaction of the Irish political establishment to an Irish ‘Cuba’ was to ‘facilitate’ the decapitation of the then ‘commie’ leadership of the IRA, leaving us with the simply sectarian and more lethal Provos.

  • Greenflag

    harry flashman ,

    ‘Does nobody love us?

    Yes Harry in the same way that people love a life long cantankerous terminally ill aged relative who is at death’s door, confined to an institution and being kept alive by daily intravenous feed drips -which cost the rest of the family the proverbial arm and leg .

    But it’s the Belfast sense of humour which keeps them paying up 🙂

  • The parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind, Greenflag ….

  • Greenflag

    republic of connaught ,

    ‘I think Mr Fitzgearld was a little naive about Southern fears of Loyalist violence.’

    Go listen again . Fitzgerald was not naive about loyalist violence . He knew it would be directed mainly against the Northern Irish ‘nationalist ‘ a.k.a Catholic population in NI and probably rarely if at all against the Republic . He knew that the Irish Government and it’s army was neither prepared or equipped to defend ‘nationalist ‘ areas within Northern Ireland from 160,000 ‘loyalist ‘weapons’ -even more so in the event of a British withdrawal .

    ‘ I don’t believe they’re (Loyalists ) that stupid to bring an All-Ireland sledge hammer down on their heads with no British soldiers around to protect them. ‘

    In the circumstances of 1974 -if Loyalists were ‘stupid’ enough to subvert Sunningdale by standing up to the UK Government and winning, why would they not be stupid enough to stand up to a non existent ‘sledgehammer’ being supposedly wielded by the Republic ?

    As regards any ‘doomsday’ scenario not much has changed since 1974 in terms of the Irish Government and it’s Army’s capacity to defend ‘nationalists ‘ within NI. For this state of affairs all Irish Governments since then have preferred to rely on ‘British ‘ goodwill i.e that Britain will never withdraw unilaterally and leave the ‘natives’ to eat each other 🙁

    We got very ‘lucky’ back in 1974 . It seems that many on the Unionist/Loyalist side have learned nothing from the failure of Sunningdale. Neither has the Dublin Government at least in respect of it’s moral obligation to defend Irish nationals in NI from widespread paramilitary violence.

    Maybe it’s just as well many Irish from the Republic are now enlisting in the British Army – In the ranks of the BA they would at least be in a position to defend their ‘countrymen ‘ in NI from widespread sectarian attack .

  • UMH,
    Can’t speak for Lurig, but the idea that “Unionism, Loyalism & the British Security Services conspired to bring down Sunningdale” is not incompatible with my view that Unionists are foolish to look to London in best-protecting their own interests (and to demonise Dublin in the process). It would hardly be surprising to find that the security services in Britain have at times conspired against the policies of their own government.
    Also, I think framing the issue in terms of “do they want us or not” is not really relevant. It’s more a question of cold real-politik choices made by politicians, none of whom are elected in NI. When push comes to shove, NI will never be seen as the integral part of the UK that e.g. Finchley (or indeed Wales) is. This is fact and however unpalatable, deep down unionists must know it. We’ve seen it not just in this episode but in others e.g. Churchill’s various entreaties to De Valera during WW2 – join the war on our side in return for reunification etc…

  • Greenflag,

    As regards any ‘doomsday’ scenario not much has changed since 1974 in terms of the Irish Government and it’s Army’s capacity to defend ‘nationalists ‘ within NI.

    Maybe not in respect of the Irish Army, but other elecments in the mix have changed quite significantly.

    Firstly, after a few years the PSNI will be a more mixed (and therefore less partisan) organisation than the RUC was – the RUC could always be relied on to help our the loyalist side, but the PSNI will not be so ‘reliable’.

    Secondly, in 1974 loyalism had a numerically superior pool of support. There were simply more young Protestants than Catholics. That has now changed. If the sheer manpower at the two sides disposal is important, then loyalism is up sh1t creek.

    Thirdly, loyalim was actually more widely dispersed in 1974 than now. Then, there were unionist majorities in areas west of the Bann that are now firmly ‘green’. For the Irish army to secure the bulk of the west and south of NI (assuming no BA resistance) would not be so hard, as the native population would be largely supportive, and any unionists well out-numbered. Belfast, of course, is tthe fly in this ointment though.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin,

    ‘The parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind,

    The parable of tax collector Zebedee scurrying to the top of a tree for safety comes more to mind from here .

    The Irish Government of the time were ‘naive ‘ to believe that HMG would stand up to the UWC strike and defend the Sunningdale Agreement. I’m not sure they’ve become any less ‘naive’ since then either 🙁

    To return to your Samaritan theme good fences make good neighbours . Which is why when the present temporary settlement fails -a fair repartition of NI between it’s constituent ‘national ‘ identities should be top of the list in a new more permanent settlement -imo

  • Greenflag

    horseman ,

    I’m aware of the points you make –
    What has happened over the past 30 years alongside the increased ‘greening ‘ in the south and west of the province, and Belfast is that any likelihood of a ‘doomsday ‘ scenario breaking out to engulf all parts of Northern Ireland has been lessened considerably .

    Any ‘doomsday’ scenario now would be along the lines of a Unionist/Loyalist unilateral declaration of ‘ independence ‘ for the eastern mainly unionist part of NI . Such a move could/would only ‘happen’ if it looked like SF would become the main partner after an NI election . As in 1974 it’s unlikley that any present or future British Government would stand in their way and again as in 1974 neither would any Irish Government

    And yes I know that this is not an option under the terms of the GFA -Sure . At the end of the day ‘realpolitik’ counts for a lot more than a piece of paper . If you have an doubts on that ask any SDLP or Ulster Unionist politician who ‘signed up’ for Sunningdale .

  • “Any ‘doomsday’ scenario now would be along the lines of a Unionist/Loyalist unilateral declaration of ‘ independence ‘ for the eastern mainly unionist part of NI”

    Are there many (or any) unionists/loyalists around these days who would allow themselves to be led up that garden path? Surely their experiences with Paisley will have wised-up most to the kind of manipulation that went on in 1974 and other times before and after?

  • Republic of Connaught

    Greenflag,

    The “sledgehammer” would be created if Loyalists brought their sectarianism South, OR started killing Southern soldiers who were only trying to keep the peace. Because the Southern army would increase in size ten fold very quickly if Loyalists caused bloodshed when the British had already made it plain they were going.

    Personally, I believe if the British made it plain they were getting out of Ireland for good whatever happened then Unionists would not cause violence. Only tiny groups might, like Republican dissidents. The majority of Unionism will get on with creating the new government and wielding as much power as they can in it.

  • “The Irish Government of the time were ‘naive ‘”

    Greenflag, I think they knew exactly what they were doing when they ‘did a runner’ during the various crises here.

  • PaddyReilly

    Here I am minded to give a partial endorsement to Greenflag’s mindbendingly repetitive and boring single transferable post. Faced with an independent NI dominion in 1974, repartitition would be your only man.

    However, more than 30 years on, the growth and expansion of Catholic Nationalist Belfast mean that the new Unionist chimera would be born without a heart. And of course, given that no-one is likely to take any notice of Prophet Greenflag at this particular juncture, it will be more than 40 years after 1974 before a decision needs to be made and by that time we must expect that the Orange parts of Ulster will have retreated to a few disconnected Orange blobs.

    As such, any Unionist state could only function as an inconvenience to the people it was meant to serve, which is presumably why they’re not agitating for it to come about.

  • Almost amusing to see the Dublin govt being blamed for ‘doing a runner’ during the various crises here. I suppose if it means we sweep the real causes of problems under the carpet then why not.

  • Because the Southern army would increase in size ten fold very quickly if Loyalists caused bloodshed when the British had already made it plain they were going.

    Let’s see, country of 3.2 million or so (at the time) with a fairly fragile economy (at the time) manages to support an army of 110,000, trains them in counter-insurgency techniques and deploys them so successfully in hostile territory that their impact can be likened to a ‘sledgehammer’, and all before the Northern Catholic population is ethnically cleansed.

    Er, yeah, of course.

    Harold was right. And so, in his own way, was Garret. They were both only looking after their own national interest, and neither saw people here as part of their nation.

  • PaddyReilly

    Let’s see, country of 3.2 million or so (at the time) with a fairly fragile economy (at the time) manages to support an army of 110,000, trains them in counter-insurgency techniques and deploys them so successfully in hostile territory that their impact can be likened to a ‘sledgehammer’, and all before the Northern Catholic population is ethnically cleansed.

    Sounds a bit like England in 1642. Which, you may remember still managed to sledgehammer the pissing Irish. Of course, many or most of the settlers had already been ethnically cleansed, they just went back after the fighting was over, and did a bit of cleansing themselves. As long as no-one else was likely to intervene, they had a free hand.

    The Republic of 1974 was already supporting an Army of this size, it just called them unemployed instead of soldiers.

    The training in counter-insurgency techniques is hardly necessary. You merely need to give the men a gun, or a pitchfork or something. It worked in Wexford in 1798. Of course, such an army would be disastrous for the parties occupied, as well as for itself. Whether it would be able to conquer the Six Counties is debatable: but it should be able to persuade the secessionists that their entity was not going to prosper.

    But of course, fighting wars doesn’t actually boost the profile of a country. Given a British withdrawal in 1974, Ireland might be reunited, after a fashion, by 1975, but economically it would resemble Liberia or San Salvador. Which is why Fitzgerald or Cosgrave chose to keep out.

  • OC

    Paddy:

    From what I’ve read, the 1642 rebellion was pretty much thwarted in Ulster due to the plantation of border Scots (and border English), who came from a war-like reivers’ culture, and were in large numbers compared to the Anglo-Irish presence in the other parts of Ireland.

    In the case of a UDI, and RoI intervention, it will only work if the RoI military adopts tactics that if practised by HMG would be internationally condemned, but did work quite well during the Irish Civil War.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    UlsterManIrelandFan

    “[i]It would hardly be surprising to find that the security services in Britain have at times conspired against the policies of their own government.”[/i]

    If that is true, that would tell us that the government does not always act in accordance to the nations security. So there’s a possiblitiy Unionists got wind of Wilson’s anti-security ideas which lead to the bringing down of Stormont.

    “[i]Also, I think framing the issue in terms of “do they want us or not” is not really relevant. It’s more a question of cold real-politik choices made by politicians, none of whom are elected in NI.”[/i]

    I agree. It’s never explained as simply as some might want to promote. However, I do think Westminster is using us Unionists in N.Ireland to gain a Union with the Republic.

    “[i]When push comes to shove, NI will never be seen as the integral part of the UK that e.g. Finchley (or indeed Wales) is. This is fact and however unpalatable, deep down unionists must know it.”[/i]

    Very true, and although most sincere Unionists have a good grasp of their position within the Union, there are those who think they’re more British than anyone living on the mainland. Those Unionists have lost touch of their home grown identity, an Ulster identity which should sit proud alongside others in the Union.

    “[i]We’ve seen it not just in this episode but in others e.g. Churchill’s various entreaties to De Valera during WW2 – join the war on our side in return for reunification etc…”[/i]

    DeValera was offered governance over the whole of the island if he would only remain partners with Great Britian. He should have taken the offer, because his Republic would eventually join a Union with Europe and a council with Great Britain + N.I.

    It would seem De Valera’s decision not to join with the bigger island only created a greater opposition against him, in that the island was divided in two.

    It’s a shame we in N.Ireland have to suffer over this brinkmanship between these both capital cities in these isles.

  • ulsterfan

    We are talking about something which occurred 34 years ago—an historical process.
    Lets not pre-judge history (think of that) and fall into the same old mind sets.
    Wilson had no support for his fantasies and in this respect was separated from reality.

  • The Impartial Observer

    Very interesting story! In Robert Kee’s book Ireland A History, it states that the Labour shadow cabinet of the early 1970’s was discussing Northern Ireland “under the significant codename of “Algeria;”” Obviously Wilson was tempted by the sort of solution that De Gaulle imposed on Algeria in the early 60’s of complete withdrawal. If that’s what he was thinking that he was barking mad! The 2 situations weren’t remotely comparable.

  • Brian Walker

    Impartial and others, On the Algerian parallel I attach below extracts from a review of Paul Bew’s The Politics of Enmity by Brendan O’Leary, one of the main champions of the consociational theory that begat the Assembly. Brendan basically take on the revisionist “unionist” strand of history, Bew, Patterson etc, while still calling him his friends. This is one theme of a long review. Lord Bew as you may know is a former Marxist who was an adviser to David Trimble. O’Leary ends the review by the way, by calling Bew and co his friends.

    “In The Politics of Enmity Bew refers, rather ferociously, in a footnote to the “glib and deeply unserious application of the so-called Algerian analogy” to historic Ulster, and recommends for therapy “the powerful and impressive work of one of the great modern Anglophone scholars of Algeria, Hugh Roberts”. (46) The reference is to Northern Ireland and the Algerian Analogy: A Suitable Case for Gaullism?, in which Roberts targeted the South African and then Oxford political scientist Bill Johnson, who had argued that the Britishness of Northern Ireland was as much a myth as the Frenchness of Algeria, and that Ulster Protestants were analogous to the European colons of Algeria.(47)
    Colonial comparisons clearly hit neuralgic points with Bew. There is an article waiting to be written comparing French Algerian intellectuals with British Ulster intellectuals, and one can imagine various titles, “Pieds Noirs and Bowler Hats: Albert Camus and Louis MacNeice” for the literary and “Communists and Colonialism: Louis Althusser and Paul Bew” for the political and philosophical journals. Bew and Roberts, of course, are right that there are many differences between Northern Ireland after 1921 and Algeria in the 1950s and 1960s. But they are wrong to ignore the multiple similarities between British state-building failure in Ireland and French state-building failure in Algeria, which have been the subject of some of Ian S Lustick’s major works.(48) In each case the outlying territory (Ireland, Algeria) failed to be assimilated into the political culture of the dominant political community; in each case the native populations (Catholics and Muslims) were subjected to massive land expropriations, to the benefit of (British and European) settlers; in each case the relevant settler community formed the core of anti-democratic challenges to the political system when it appeared to be willing to make substantive concessions to the natives (in 1911-14 in Ireland, and during 1955-61 in Algeria). In one case the descendants of the settler community were powerful enough to ensure that part of the outlying region remained within the metropolitan political system (six of the counties of historic Ulster) whereas in the other they were not able to do so (none of Algeria was kept for those who believed it was French). These parallels escape Bew’s and Roberts’s attention.”

  • Rabelais

    “Personally, I believe if the British made it plain they were getting out of Ireland for good whatever happened then Unionists would not cause violence. Only tiny groups might, like Republican dissidents. The majority of Unionism will get on with creating the new government and wielding as much power as they can in it.”

    Posted by Republic of Connaught on Sep 12, 2008 @ 01:32 PM

    Connaught,
    What aspect of loyalism’s violent and bloody history makes you think it will go quietly into a united Ireland?

  • Greenflag

    ulster’s my homeland ,

    ‘DeValera was offered governance over the whole of the island if he would only remain partners with Great Britian.’

    Not partnership just sign up with the Allies in WW2 .

    ‘ He should have taken the offer’

    In that respect De Valera for all his other faults was a shrewder judge of British politicians than his FF and FG descendants in the 1969-1974 and indeed later period . De Valera knew that while Britain could offer a UI from the safety of Whitehall he would not be able to deliver one once the war was over. The Wilson Government failure to stand up to the UWC and Loyalist extremists in 1974 is just further confirmation if ever it was needed that De Valera made the right call . In any event Britain got most of what it needed from the Free State in WW2.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘I think they (Irish Gov 1974) knew exactly what they were doing ‘

    I meant ‘naive ‘ in the sense of not being prepared for a ‘worst case ‘ scenario . They knew of the violence 1969-1974 and seen the effect in oe or two attacks on the Republic . They were ‘doubly’ naive in assuming that the British Government would ‘defend ‘ the Sunningdale Agreement.

    As I said we got ‘lucky’ in 1974 . Of course for the thousands who died post 1974 we can on the one hand lay some responsibility on the failure of the British Government of the time to defend the Sunningdale Agreement . On the other hand the British Government would probably have had to kill several hundred or thousand Loyalists in any attempt to impose the agreement . We’ll never know which body count would have been the greater .

  • Greenflag

    republic of connaught ,

    ‘The “sledgehammer” would be created’

    Maybe -eventually – but as sammy morse says way too late to make any difference to the de facto on the ground situation either then 1974 and even less now in 2008 .

    NI is stuck with what it’s got and that’s forced power sharing for the foreseeable future. It’s the only system which will keep the sleeping dogs of extremism form either side ‘asleep’.

    Someday it may become possible to lift the ‘protection’ of forced power sharing in NI but that will probably be at some future date when NI as it’s presently constituted no longer exists -imo. And that may or may not be for a very long time -In the meantime stasis and stagnation will ‘reign’ supreme.

  • frank the tank

    “The “sledgehammer” would be created’

    Maybe -eventually – but as sammy morse says way too late to make any difference to the de facto on the ground situation either then 1974 and even less now in 2008 ”
    If there is a doomsday scenario then cleary it will arise where the nationalist population has passed out the unionist and the brits have agreed to pull out.explain to me how the majority population is going to be defeated by a minority population without the backing of the brits.
    It would also be quite feasible for any irish government with a bit of foresight to bring in national service for 2 years say 10-15 years before the population trends indicate the handover.voila tens of thousands of military trained troops-just in case.if a country like Israel can do it no reason the ROI cant.

  • Dave

    Nevin, every State is has a duty to protect itself from internal subversion and external threats – that’s why they form intelligence agencies and armies.

    In the historical context, the Provos were a violent threat to the Irish State – they were treasonous thugs who declared themselves to the legitimate government of Ireland and who refused the recognise right of the Irish people to freely elect their own government. Why do you seem surprised that the Irish government would put its own interests first when, like all states, it is charged with a solemn duty to do exactly that? The violent manifestation of that subversive threat to the Irish State has been successfully neutered, but the subversive threat remains: northern nationalists are not loyal to the Irish state. They have accepted the legitimacy of the British state but they have not accepted the legitimacy of the Irish state.

    In the present political context in NI, the two cantankerous tribes in NI are both pro-state and anti-state: they’re both pro British state and anti Irish state. The northern Irish nationalists, lacking loyalty to the Irish state, want to see it dismantled and replaced by some expedient entity that serves their own selfish interests and the selfish interests of their fellow troublemakers, northern British nationalists.

    It’s a tad obvious, really: a state cannot entertain those who are not loyal to it, so it tries to contain them.

  • PaddyReilly

    It would also be quite feasible for any irish government with a bit of foresight to bring in national service for 2 years say 10-15 years before the population trends indicate the handover

    That means 2006-2001. I think they’re a little behind schedule.

  • Fences, Greenflag>

    No it ain’t so neat to admit defeat
    They can see no fences
    Cos there are no fences
    What fences do you need oh oh oh oh

  • frank the tank

    allright fair enough i cut and pasted that line just to show the gist of his argument which i wanted to rebut-ie that in some doomsday scenario the nationalist population in the north would be helpless and overrun and the ROI government would be powerless to help them..i think we can safely assume that the doomsday scenario wont erupt in 2008.thats not to say that it couldnt at some stage in the next 25 years and that the ROI couldnt take some steps to limit the fallout
    I guess i should have been more precise in what I was about

  • PaddyReilly

    DeValera was offered governance over the whole of the island if he would only remain partners with Great Britian.

    No he wasn’t. He was offered, in return for bringing the 26 counties into the war and exposing its defenceless cities to the Luftwaffe (and presumably its population to conscription), a statement by Churchill at the end of the war that he was in favour of a United Ireland. Which of course would have been ignored by the Unionists, so it was completely worthless. Wisely, he declined.

  • Greenflag

    frank the tank ,

    ‘If there is a doomsday scenario then cleary it will arise where the nationalist population has passed out the unionist and the brits have agreed to pull out’

    These scenarios may or may not happen and even if they do there is no explicit mechanism in place which says HMG will pull out. What we infer from the GFA is a series of if’s , what if’s and maybe’s and a somewhat vague and nebulous procedure as to the circumstances of when and how a ‘referendum ‘ on the issue could/would/might take place ?

    ‘explain to me how the majority population is going to be defeated by a minority population ‘
    without the backing of the brits.’

    Because nobody has to defeat anybody. You assume that the minority (Unionists) would take on the majority (the other 85% of the island). They would’nt have to . They would merely have to defend their own smaller state which because of it’s smaller size would be ‘logistically ‘ and geographically easier to defend . You also presuppose that an Irish Government would ‘attack ‘ such a Unionist State . Not going to happen because a) there is no political will for such an ‘adventure and b) the country’s Army is not equipped to do so.

    ‘It would also be quite feasible for any irish government with a bit of foresight to bring in national service for 2 years say 10-15 years before the population trends indicate the handover.’

    Your faith in the foresight of politicians elected for a 4 or 5 year term is greater than mine .While ‘national service ‘ would’nt do any harm to many of our young ‘fatties’ it’s more than presumptious at this stage to assume that the population trend favours a ‘nationalist ‘ takeover . The latest trends indicate a 50/50 demographic balance going forward .

    ”if a country like Israel can do it no reason the ROI cant.’

    There are lots of reasons .
    1) Ireland does not have as next door neighbours one billion Arabs sitting on lots of oil reserves .

    2) Ireland is not Israel . We’d rather the rest of the world does’nt hate us .

    3) The Israelis have ‘money’ lots and are supported by the jewish financial lobby around the world and the USA government .

    4) We Irish like to think we are supported by official America. Realpolitik tells us that the UK is the USA’s main ally in this part of the world and there is no way that any problem in Ireland -North or South will be allowed to throw that alliance off it’s tracks.

  • Greenflag

    ‘It’s a tad obvious, really: a state cannot entertain those who are not loyal to it, so it tries to contain them. ‘

    A tad ? More than a tad I’d have thought . That was the problem then and is even more of a problem now -the State (NI) tried (is still trying ) to contain too many of those who are not ‘loyal ‘ to NI in the ‘longer ‘term .

  • Greenflag

    Nevin – It’s Friday 🙂 -Lighten up ffs :).

  • Turgon

    I find the suggestions of an Irish army being a “sledgehammer” about as depressing as the counter suggestion that loyalists would fight and win some sort of homeland.

    If such a scenario occurred I hope and pray that no one would fight.

    If, however, there were violence history shows us that it would most likely be vicious murder of neighbour by neighbour.

    The idea of military battles and defeat of one side or another belongs to school boy fantasies best summed up as “The old lie Dulce et Decorum est pro patri mori.”

  • “the Provos were a violent threat to the Irish State”

    Dave, a pro-rata comparison of their attacks, North and South, would show that the threat was directed at the northern state.

  • frank the tank

    “These scenarios may or may not happen and even if they do there is no explicit mechanism in place which says HMG will pull out. What we infer from the GFA is a series of if’s , what if’s and maybe’s and a somewhat vague and nebulous procedure as to the circumstances of when and how a ‘referendum ‘ on the issue could/would/might take place ?”
    -I agree with you.its probable that the nationalist will never reach 51% or whatever and that the north will muddle on under stormont and the union
    -“Because nobody has to defeat anybody”
    In a doomsday scenario ie total tribal civil war there will be a winner and a loser.thats why it,ll be a total catastrophe in the unlikely event that it ever takes place.
    “You assume that the minority (Unionists) would take on the majority (the other 85% of the island). They would’nt have to . They would merely have to defend their own smaller state which because of it’s smaller size would be ‘logistically ‘ and geographically easier to defend”
    -What state would that be. the commonwealth of the shankill, larne and coleraine!the unionists wouldnt be able to form there scattered territories into anything resembling a state.they barely pulled it off in 1921 and a lot of facts have changed on the ground since then.
    “You also presuppose that an Irish Government would ‘attack ‘ such a Unionist State . Not going to happen because a) there is no political will for such an ‘adventure and b) the country’s Army is not equipped to do so”
    So what will the irish government do if it is supposed to enforce the “adventure” of the democratic mandate of the people of Ireland after a free and fair election.send the irish army to patrol the falls but not the shankill!!who will decide the boundaries of this unionist state- the UDA and the UVF!you can just imagine how they would decide the boundaries.if the brits have (no doubt happily) washed their hands of it the Irish army will be forced step in.
    -Political will wise.yeah it,ll be a pain in the ass.But dont underestimate the power of nationalism.the west germans bit the bullet during their reunification.the south would ulimately do the same.
    -the Irish army could occupy the north in the morning if it had to if the british army pulled out.who,d be able to oppose it.the UDA,the UVF the ulster resistance crowd,a few hundred disgruntled ex-udr and psni types!!.yeah im sure they could inflict some damage on the irish army but theres no way they could drive them out.no more than the IRA could drive the british out.and like ive said it should be seen coming down the track and the government could spend a few billion upgrading and expanding the army to cope with any backlash.If ireland in 1922 could field an army of 60,000(and that was just the free staters must have been 30,000 republicans min) im sure the ROI could manage it again a hundred years later with a vastly expanded population.

  • frank the tank

    Greenflag if a country like Israel can do it no reason the ROI cant.’

    There are lots of reasons .
    1) Ireland does not have as next door neighbours one billion Arabs sitting on lots of oil reserves .
    -Id say that that would count as a plus in our favour not having to cope with a billion pissed off wealthy arabs.
    2) Ireland is not Israel . We’d rather the rest of the world does’nt hate us .
    -why would the rest of the world hate us.under any doomsday scenario we,d only be enforcing the democratic will of the majority of the people of Ireland as agreed in the good friday agreement.cant see too many people supporting the anti-democratic die-hard loyalists.
    3) The Israelis have ‘money’ lots and are supported by the jewish financial lobby around the world and the USA government .
    -The Irish have ‘money’ lots and are supported by the Irish financial lobby around the world.
    4) We Irish like to think we are supported by official America. Realpolitik tells us that the UK is the USA’s main ally in this part of the world and there is no way that any problem in Ireland -North or South will be allowed to throw that alliance off it’s tracks.
    -True but why would the british object.they,d be glad to get N.I. off there hands and it wouldnt exactly be a landgrab as it would be a democratic and legitimate handover of power

  • Greenflag

    ‘So what will the irish government do’

    They would accept any de facto ‘repartition’ on the ground following any UDI .

    ‘who will decide the boundaries of this unionist state’

    They ‘ve already been drawn . The UN would have to ‘finalise ‘ them most likely .

    ‘the Irish army will be forced step in.’

    Perhaps but their ‘mission ‘ would be to protect the mainly ‘nationalist areas of the South and West and probably West Belfast /North Belfast – The Unionist authorities would probably be assured in a quid pro quo that that would be the limit of their mission .

    ‘But dont underestimate the power of nationalism.’

    Don’t overestimate it either. Most of us like our ‘nationalism ‘ on the soccer or rugby field . For the vast majority of Irish ‘nationalists ‘ it does not extend to forcing our ‘nationalism ‘ down ‘unionist ‘ throats – a pointless exercise which.

    ‘the west germans bit the bullet during their reunification.the south would ulimately do the same.’

    West Germany had 4 times the population of East Germany and their economy was over 25 times the size of it’s Eastern neighbour . The Republic has just 2.5 times the population of Northern Ireland and our economy may be at most 6 to 7 times the NI economy .

    In addition virtually 100% of East Germans wanted to reunite with their fellow Germans . In Northern Ireland the equivalent figure is less than 50% and maybe as low as 40% if that .

    There is no comparison between both situations just as with the French and Algerian situation .

    NI has the symptoms of both a post colonial situation and one of competing nationalisms and is unique in that it has politically stable neighbours who have ‘tolerated’ the place for the better part of 80 plus years ?

    By 2022 I expect we will be living in a very different world where people will be more concerned about having a decent water supply and just maybe being able to afford enough petrol to be able to drive to Donegal for their summer holidays .

  • Greenflag

    frank the tank ,

    ‘but why would the british object’
    I did’nt say they would

    ‘theyd be glad to get N.I. off their hands’

    Of course -so what ?

    ‘ and it wouldnt exactly be a landgrab as it would be a democratic and legitimate handover of power’

    Why would you want to include 800,000 people in a State to which they don’t want to belong and to which they would have no allegiance ?

    What would be the point ?

    good night !

  • KFC Fan

    UDI by an economic basket case?

  • Dave

    Nevin, that doesn’t the fact that the Provos were a subversive threat to the Irish state, or that the Irish government was correct to classify them as such and act accordingly. The clue is sort in the ‘legitimate government of Ireland’ bit and the stated aim of overthrowing the State and replacing it with a socialist republic. Perhaps in LaLaLand, one classifies the enemies of the state among its friends, but not in the real world. And in that real world, the Provos were well aware that shooting Gardia and members of the Irish army was detrimental to the initial stages of their campaign, and so they cynically behaved themselves of ‘free state’ soil. Besides, if they did otherwise, you’d have seen that Ireland would have quickly reintroduced hanging to deal with them. Their campaign of sectarian murder in NI only had one possible outcome: civil war (and not the short-term ‘unrest’ of Trotskyite agitation they imaged). And it was hoped that they could achieve their aims via that outcome. Madness of course, but psychopaths are not renowned for their grasp of reality, are they? You should also keep in mind that Fitzgerald’s government may have had its mind concentrated by the bombing of Dublin the previous year, and that while Wilson informed Fitzgerald that they had ‘picked up’ the bombers, Fitzgerald preferred to ignore that remark because to pursue it further would have meant that British collusion in that bombing was tantamount to a declaration of war on the Irish state and that the Irish government would have had to respond to that ‘appalling vista.’ The preferred response of the Irish government, of course, was to shut down the investigation and make sure no fingers pointed at the British government. Difficult times for states with small armies.

  • Could the british army have forced NI into a united Ireland.They would have had the where withall whatever about the will.