Mary McAleese: a dichotomy of views

Mary McAleese’s latest comments and the inevitable reaction interested me. I have done a number of blogs on McAleese (clearly from one side of the debate) and they frequently generate substantial comment. McAleese’s problem is that she divides opinion very markedly yet she does (whether genuinely or not) try to reach out to both communities. In that very reaching out, perversely, however, she manages to divide opinion further.McAleese is clearly a very talented individual. Her biography demonstrates an impressive record as an academic and lawyer. Clearly many NI nationalists will have been delighted when McAleese was elected (by a considerable margin). Some of those unionists who disliked her probably remembered that she was in charge of the university group which removed the national anthem and RUC band from QUB graduation and supported the Irish language signs in the Students’ Union (the latter eventually removed after an outside consultants’ report on the whole episode). However, she said at the outset that the theme of her presidency was “building bridges” and appeared to make a point of visiting people and places on both sides of the community in Northern Ireland.

The biggest and pretty fatal problem for McAleese in terms of unionist support was of course the infamous “Prods were Nazi’s” remark. It must be stressed that this was not the same as the set of remarks which ended Fr. Alec Reid and Rev Harold Good’s decommissioning bus-tour. Whilst Fr. Reid did actually say “They (Catholics) were not treated like human beings. It was like the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews,” McAleese’s remarks were rather more subtle: “They gave to their children an irrational hatred of Jews in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred, for example, of Catholics.” Despite the fact that strictly speaking she did not compare Protestants to Nazis: it was still a spectacularly inappropriate set of comments, inappropriate in its analysis of the scale of general Protestant (or Catholic) views and also inappropriate in its falsely comparing any group in NI’s experience with what happened to Europe’s Jews.

McAleese (unlike Reid) made a fairly full apology. However, for many unionists the damage was done: Her subsequent remarks such as those about the Queen only being able to visit the RoI after the devolution of policing and justice powers simply reinforced unionists’ perceptions. The fact that they were later confirmed as merely official Irish government policy did not help. Her latest remarks about Irish people joining the British army are simply the latest remarks which will annoy unionists.

One of the problems is of course that apart from the Nazi’s remarks the other comments would have been fairly unremarkable from any other RoI political figure: they might well have generated little comment; certainly not the fury which has greeted McAleese’s utterances. Part of this problem is that her whole campaign seemed focused on her being a clone of Mary Robinson (even to the extent of a makeover resulting in a suspiciously Robinson-ish appearence). McAleese was never going to be as popular with unionists as Robinson but to an extent she set herself up for a fall by proclaiming herself a bridge builder. She then very spectacularly burnt those bridges by the “Nazi” episode.

All McAleese’s bridge building since has been viewed by many unionists in the context of the Nazis remark. After that episode it was unrealistic for McAleese to continue “bridge building:” she should have simply concentrated on her (popular) role in the RoI and indeed amongst the nationalist community in Northern Ireland. That she continued to try meet with unionists might be seen as laudable tenacity but looks (to unionists) like a stubborn refusal to accept just how disastrous her errors were.

Nationalists, however, I suspect see her as still trying to build those bridges and unionist rejection of this as deliberately stubborn (?thran) unionist behaviour. I suspect many nationalists may feel that unionists now make a deliberate attempt to be offended by as many of McAleese’s remarks as possible. As such ironically far from McAleese being a bridge builder she is now almost accidentally a ditch digger in terms of dichotomising unionist and nationalist opinion of her and in the process in her own little way increasing not narrowing the gap between Northern Ireland’s communities.

McAleese has of course been further hindered in her bridge building function by things outside her control. A good example would be Sinn Fein’s unionist engagement charter. With McAleese as with SF (to a vastly greater extent); there tends to be grave suspicion amongst unionists that the hand of friendship is being outstretched purely in order to drag the unwary unionist closer to a united Ireland and often also to denounce unionists as the cause of all Ireland’s ills. The fact that McAleese was clearly never involved in murdering people may make the suspicion less bad but still that concern lingers. Mary Robinson was able to carry off a genuine “unionist engagement” as she had a track record of taking unionist concerns seriously (her resignation from her cabinet position over the Anglo Irish agreement being the prime example). Clearly Mary McAleese had the opposite record even prior to her foray into mid twentieth century European history.

The problem is that when McAleese tries to do things to please unionists she is likely to be regarded as either trying to mend fences which she has already broken by her own foolish remarks or as trying to persuade unionists into greater accommodation with the RoI or concessions to nationalism. When she makes even fairly anodyne remarks as she did about the British army she will be objected to to a greater extent than most comparable Irish politicians. When unionists inevitably reject her pleasantries or castigate her other remarks, this inflames northern nationalists to many of whom she must be the local girl made good. Hence, ironically Mary McAleese, by trying to reach out to unionists, may well be increasing the divisions on this island. Her presidency may well be judged a success by the Irish. However, in terms of the unionist community her presidency has been one of burning not building bridges.

  • Objectivist

    Part 3:
    Two of the first presidents of the state were Protestant and I would point out that both the two ladies who became president have not had
    the slightest hesitation in opposing the teaching of the Catholic Church and its practice. There have been two Protestant deputy Prime Ministers –the first being a Belfast Presbyterian –Ernest Blythe.Contrast that with the record of the Stormont regime 1921-1971.
    Some of the postings here smack of downtroddenism.In my experience if people want to feel aggrieved about something they will feel aggrieved.And if they want to feel like victims they will feel like victims.Sophistic justification will always be found.Some unionist propagandists (who fortunately are not typical of all unionists) in general find the erroneous model of predatorial South versus victimised Protestant North addictively comfortable and tend to become quite aggressive with anyone who tries to remove this psychological crutch.I also get the impression that some unionist propagandists try to conjure up a mirage of southern anti-Protestant discrimination to deflect attention from the very non-miragelike of northern anti-catholic sectarianism.But simply wishing for something to be true does not make it true.
    I have a number of Protestant friends,all straight talkers, and none have complained of discrimination.
    Judging by the comments here substantial education re the ROI is required.
    In an article in the Irish Times published on 7th September 1996, Dr Garret FitzGerald explains that previously, nobody seemed to examine emigration from the south in religious terms. However he highlights a distorting factor, namely the higher rate of attrition in the early days of the state when life expectancy was not as long as it is now. The number of people dying before reaching their 30s or 40s was as high as 15%, half as great as emigration itself. It’s a lot smaller now, thanks mostly to improvements in medical care, hygeine, nutrition etc.
    As for the emigration rate, there was a significantly higher level of emigration by Protestants than by Catholic young people in the pre-war period. Since 1945 this has been reversed, the Protestant emigration rate is now much lower than that of Catholics. Dr FitzGerald continues:
    >>”It may be recalled that in this column of November 8th last year, I reported that the latest (1991) census data for religion shows that 40 per cent of Protestants here are engaged in higher-income employments, (viz. administration, management, the major professions, or ownership of large farms) as against 20 per cent of Catholics. It might be helpful if these facts were better known to unionists in Northern Ireland. ”
    In other words, southern Protestants are actually prospering and doing very well for themselves. There is no evidence of any maltreatment in this day and age.

  • Objectivist

    Part 4
    A former fundamentalist Free Presbyterian, who used to contribute to the talkback board, once went tentatively to Dublin to examine the ‘plight’ of southern Protestants. He found no ‘plight,’ only a group of contented people who were living out their lives in peace.
    Here in the Republic no oppression of the Protestant population has occurred similar to that endured by Catholics in NI 1921-1972.. It is offensive to citizens of the State to suggest otherwise. The Republic has been based on equality from top to bottom. Hence, unlike Britain, a Catholic, Protestant, Hindu or Jew is free to seek election to the office of President. However look eastwards to Britain and a totally different state of affairs exist. Under the antiquated Act of Settlement a Catholic cannot inherit the throne. That is but one example of a state not completely purged of sectarianism.. Thankfully we here in the South can say with not just a tad of pride, that since 1920 we have established a State that has made all feel welcome and valued – something which the more extreme type of Ulster unionist never sought to do. Had they bothered to do so, they might have been able to live today without the siege mentality and Nationalists might not have been as eager for Irish unity. But the opportunity was squandered.
    The standard down for Cold War western communists propagandising about ‘capitalist oppression of the workers’ was the question why,if their preferred system was so great,there was nobody attempting to get across the Berlin wall from *west to east*.
    Accordingly the $64,000 dollar question:
    If the ROI is so horrendous why is there not a stream northwards of distressed southern Protestants? Since the early 1960’s the Protestant proportion of the ROI population has been rising and the Catholic proportion falling (Central Statistics Office).Looks like the South is bent on exterminating it’s Catholic population so that the Protestants can take over whatever is left .Since the early 1960’s the Protestant proportion of the ROI population has been rising and the corresponding Protestant proportion in NI falling.Looks like,if you are a Protestant in Ireland,that the ROI is the place to be.

  • Turgon

    “They retained their land and property rights”

    How amazingly decent of the RoI: are we supposed to applaud the fact that the south did not seize land like Robert Mugabe.

    Your comment illustrates exactly the problem rather well: you seem to think that the fact that treatment of the Protestant population in the RoI post partition was not worse means that Protestants should be happy with how magnanimous the victors were. It is exactly that attitude which probably helped reduce the number of Protestants in the then Free state and cowed others into silence.

  • Objectivist

    Previous Slugger posting on alleged West Cork pogrom. Part1:
    You will always get letters to newspapers saying that ‘x’ happened to ‘y’ in the year ‘z’.I’m inclined to keep the salt cellar at close quarters as the facts have to be discerned from the transgenerational fog of decontextualisation,amplification,and preselection.You only have to look at the Bloody Sunday enquiry to find a miasma of contradictory evidence about an event that took place well within living memory and within the TV age.
    You make reference to ‘the truth’.
    It must be remembered that with NI,and to a lesser extent general Irish, history there are three ‘truths’:
    1.The unionist ‘truth’.
    2.The nationalist ‘truth’.
    3.*THE* truth.
    I followed the debate closely in Slugger and elsewhere and in order to give both sides a fair crack of the whip and make an honest attempt at arriving at *THE* truth I invested some 40 euro in and, keeping an open mind, read through both Peter Hart’s ‘The IRA and its enemies’ and Meda Ryan’s ‘Tom Barry IRA hero’ (have you read both books BTW ?).I also spent hours ploughing through relevant material in Indymedia.At the end of that I found myself coming down heavily on the side of the Meda Ryan/Brian Murphy school of thought.
    Meda Ryan has become something of a hate figure in some circles for throwing a spanner in the works of the Dunmanway pogrom theory.She is actually a woman of transparent integrity and anextremely meticulous serious historian.Even Peter Hart himself acknowledges that.
    With all due respect ,having read your voluminous postings on this subject,I am left with the impression that because Peter Hart validates you preferred deconstruction he is an effective transcriber of sacred text and because MR does the opposite she is a ‘hagiographer’.
    The line of thinking of the pogrom theorists has been brilliantly illuminated by the psychologist ,Cordelia Fine:
    The brain’s ignoble use of stereotypes blurs our view of others.
    Inevitably we are confronted with challenges to our beliefs ,be it the flat-earther’s view of the gentle downward curve of the sea at the horizon, or a weapon’s inspector returning empty-handed from Iraq.Yet even in the face of counter-evidence our beliefs are protected as tenderly as our egos.Like any information that pokes a sharp stick at our self-esteem evidence that opposes our beliefs is subjected to close,critical and inevitably dismissive scrutiny.
    Being confronted with the evidence of these slick and resourceful window-dressings of the brain is unsettling,and rightly so.Evidence that fits our beliefs is quickly waved through the mental border patrol.Counter-evidence on the other hand must submit to close interrogation and even then will probably not be allowed in.
    -A mind of it’s own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives
    by Cordelia Fine.
    I’ve read some jaw-dropping stuff about Dunmanway in Slugger.Someone (I can’t remember if it was you or not) even tried to suggest an equivalence with the contemporaneous Belfast pogrom.
    In the course of the debate a few ,er, irregularities have been unearthed with respect to P.H’s analyses.As with an athlete found positive on dope testing *general* doubts have to be raised.Meda Ryan’s record on the other hand stands unscathed.
    The following indymedia contribution hits the nail on the head:
    ,One feels when reading her biography that Meda Ryan is driven by a genuine heuristic urge–to put it philosophically–by a desire to find out. She would be entitled at the end of her investigations to say, Eureka! One does not feel that with Hart. His approach is best described by a word that everybody knew a generation ago, but that has fallen out of use: apologetics. What he searches for is fragments suitable for attaching to a conclusion decided in advance. He might have exclaimed as he finished his book: I have cobbled it together!

  • Oilifear

    “Unionists need to be schooled in the idea that a United Ireland isn’t the worst thing that can happen…. The troubles has left us feeling defensive and stuck with the idea that the UK border finishes with N.Ireland. This isn’t what Unionism is about, Unionism strives for cooperation.”

    UMH, I cannot believe you made this statement. Genuinely, I want to applaud you.

    Turgon, McAleese makes my skin crawl sometimes. I don’t think she means offense, I think she is genuine, but she can be ham fisted in her love. The Nazi remark was careless but, if read in full, clearly not meant like that (and can I congratulate you for being, I believe, the first unionist commentator on this site to deal with that remark calmly). The “British army” remark above was as correct for the Protestant poor as it was for the Catholic poor but lacks delicacy on what she should have known to be a flag issue. It thus appears to undermine the patriotic motivation for joining the army. (In fact, adventure, not patriotism or poverty, motivated most recruits to the disappointment, probably, of both our communities’ myths today).

    You wrote once before that there was a sense among unionists you know to “not want to be friends” with the south. Your suspicion that any approach by McAleese (or Sinn Féin or any other nationalist organ) is a lure into a united Ireland is probably right – but morally wrong. If meant genuinely, it is wrong to shun the friendship of another regardless of whether that person dreams of a united Ireland or not.

    If we mean it then you have nothing to fear because a genuine friend would not want to force you down a road you don’t want to go.

    Suilven, get stated on Fethard-on-Sea. It disgusts us every bit as much as it disgusts you.

    a, the “Republic of Ireland” is what the state named “Ireland” officially describes it self as. (See The Republic of Ireland Act, 1948.)

    As you say, “It is usual in today’s world to refer to (a) people as they wish to be referred to and not as you wish to refer to them as.” In the case of the southern jurisdiction on this island, we can refer to it in two ways, “Ireland” or “Republic of Ireland”. Clearly there are times when, for the sake of clarity, the former is not the better of the two choices. As someone from the southern jurisdiction, I’d prefer common sense over pedantism.

  • Objectivist

    Part 2:
    Might I suggest that reading through the following series of excellent articles and discussions in Indymedia.Mind you it will take about three hours but it’s worth it.The debates are first class –erudite ,articulate, mutually respectful,and without any of the codology that unfortunately creeps into Slugger and.All relevant schools of thought are represented.Several serious academics are involved.And please read through it with an open mind – in other words don’t pull the mental shutters down on reading something Meda Ryanesque.And see what conclusions you arrive at.

    Personally,like a good juror, I have sifted through the facts and I find that the evidence presented to validate the Dunmanway pogrom hypothesis singularly unconvincing.

  • Turgon

    “Personally,like a good juror, I have sifted through the facts and I find that the evidence presented to validate the Dunmanway pogrom hypothesis singularly unconvincing.”

    Considering the starting point for you positions (as evidenced from your previous comments and views): you claiming the above is an example of Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

  • Objectivist

    Communication to the illustrious Senator Harris:
    Dear Senator Harris,
    I have read your latest Sindo effort to validate and even extend Peter Hart’s 1922 sectarian pogrom hypothesis. The extent to which this simulacrum has taken root in certain sections of academe is demonstrative of Joseph Goebbel’s infamous dictum:
    Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth.
    I have been led down the same path Sunday after Sunday – the apocryphal tales on which the miraginous pogrom is predicated and the misplaced call to national penitence of the when-are-you-going –to-admit-to-and-stop-beating-your-wife? variety.
    In your uncritical acceptance of Hart’s contentions ( which have been forensically dismantled in Indymedia –do a search there using’Meda’ and/or Hart) and reflexive rejection of dissenting views you classically exhibit a fallacy of preselection.
    The evidence you have put forward is about as thin on the ground as WMD in Iraq. And it must be said that there is something quasi-necrophiliac in your scraping of every barrel and exploring under every rock looking for validation of your pogrom theory.
    You have a bee in your bonnet about this one which has appeared with monotonous regularity in your recent columns. Remember that one swallow does not make a summer nor one ‘Hart’ a historical consensus. Hart’s thesis ,which has been heavily criticized by local historians Meda Ryan and Brian Murphy, has yet to reach general acceptance among the broad range of academic historians-when it does I may take it seriously. I note, in another article on this subject, your ingenious use of the classic ‘validation by association’ propagandist stratagem here of bracketing the Dunmanway canard with Nanking, the Russian gulag etc..
    You have railed against Protestants writing to you and taking issue with your views and here a perverse irony is revealed- you are actually the most virulently anti-ROI Protestant commentator around being that you constantly lacerate the broad mass of this group who fail to show the desired level of grievance.
    The Hartists often plug the following line:
    ‘I spoke to x who said y happened to z back in 1922. All this has to be disentangled from the transgenerational fog of distortion, preselection, and amplification. As Conor Cruise O’Brien said in ‘States of Ireland’ family witness is notoriously unreliable; you’ve seen the conflicting evidence in the Saville Enquiry about an event that happened relatively recently and within the television age.
    You Cordelianly will allow only one possible explanation for the drop in the Protestant population circa 1922 – ethnic cleansing. No mention is made of Ne Temere.Your psychological modus operandi essentially involves selecting out pieces of evidence supportive of a pre-ordained conclusion. Specifically your use of the Protestant population drop is a nonsequitur. They just preferred to live in the UK because they saw themselves as British; nothing to do with violence against them personally. Intermarriage also played a major role. The losing side (for want of a better term) in a revolution has a habit of packing up e.g. ethnic-Russians in Central Asia e.g. in Kazakhstan the Russian population fell from 50% to 30% after independence, 100,000 American loyalists left the US after independence. A million Algerian pieds noirs decamped in 1960.

  • Objectivist

    Part 2;

    Let us suppose that repartition were to occur in circa 2020 and Fermanagh were awarded to the ROI. What would happen to its Protestant population?
    1. Some would elect to remain in the reconstituted ROI and make a go of it.
    2. Some would leave based on a misplaced fear of persecution in the reconstituted ROI.
    3. Some, while having no concerns about being disadvantaged in the new dispensation, would value their Britishness to the extent that to remain outside the UK would be unthinkable. They would therefore leave.
    Groups 2 and 3 are likely to be substantial.
    Then the 2120 version of Eoghan Harris could wax lyrical about the great 2020 Fermanagh pogrom/ethnic cleanse. Northern tribalism being what it is, and what it is likely to be, in an event as seismic as this there would almost certainly be instances of Protestant on Catholic and Catholic on Protestant bad behaviour .The latter would inevitably be selected out, embellished and amplified by the 2120 Eoghan Harris to lend some credibility to the yarn; all he would then have to do would be to screech ‘pogrom denialist’ at anyone who questions his hypothesis and Bob’s your uncle.
    In relation to Irish Protestants circa 1922/1923 it is important to appreciate the crucial distinction between being forced out, a la Belfast Catholics 1922, and upping and leaving because of a loss of privileged status and/or anticipation of persecution which did not in fact occur.
    In your failure to consider all plausible hypotheses as to the drop in Protestant numbers since the inception of the state and examine the relevant evidence in each instance instead of just focusing on one you have subverted cold, hard logic. For example why not write about the mass expulsion/ethnic cleansing of Catholics from the ROI from 1960 onwards who have, based on census figures, dropped from 95 to about 60% of the population?
    However I must admit to a certain grudging admiration- you and your fellow sindo journos have achieved an impressive rhetorical predominance. And within the terms of the dominant sindo rhetoric any criticism of its sacred cows translates into tacit support for SF/IRA and is drowned out by the shriek of ‘sectarian cover-upper!’ – or some such term. It is in this spirit that the Dunmanway pogrom sceptics are labelled as impeding peace in Ireland and serious commentators such as Meda Ryan and Martin Mansergh have become hate figures. In case of the latter is his read, as a southern Protestant no less valid than those who write to support your view?
    Revealingly you seem to reserve most of your bile for Southern Prods who contact you contesting your views, of which group Martin Mansergh is the most exotic specimen.
    Shorn of all its attendant casuistry and historical obscurantism the propagandist Hartist read on Dunmanway can be succinctly deconstructed as follows:
    We’re onto a good thing here with this Dunmanway business. At long last we have something with which to whatabouterise the 1922 Belfast pogrom. Sod that Meda Ryan lady upsetting the applecart.,
    If 1641 was a pinprick compared to what happened to Irish Catholics throughout the 17th century then whatever may have happened in Dunmanway was an ‘invisible to the naked eye’ micropuncture compared to the simultaneous pogrom against Belfast Catholics. Suffice it to say that if the nationalist side throughout Irish history need a can of whitewash to cover things up the unionist/British side would need an oil tanker of the stuff.
    I incidentally note your deafening and revealing silence about the Belfast pogrom. Until your last article that is:
    As the Belfast pogroms are sometimes used as an excuse for the bad treatment of southern rural Protestants, let us pause here to point out two big differences. First, a Catholic family driven from mixed area of Belfast had the support of other Catholics in a similar situation. Second, the family was merely moving a few miles to another part of the city.
    There is a crucial distinction here however: the historicity of the Belfast pogrom is irrefutable, the Dunmanway pogrom hypothesis is, on the other hand, very shaky indeed. In this instance we don’t have to talk about the ‘Belfast pogrom hypothesis’: it quite obviously happened.
    The Dunmanway pogrom (sic) is to the 1922 Belfast pogrom what Ulster Scots is to the Irish language. In each case the authenticity of the latter is beyond doubt. In each case the former is a contrivance used as a sectarian foil against its counterpart.

  • Objectivist

    Part 3:
    In addition I have to take my hat off to a contributor who posted the following:
    We were so good and sneaky at it that there isn’t a single account of refugees running for safety to Britain or NI to escape the terror. I mean, when the loyalists had a go at their own ethnic cleansing in 1969, there were refugee camps set up south of the border to help those fleeing from the violence. All in all 35,000 people fled south that time. Amateurs. Not a single news report or government enquiry when we had our fun. We are proud of this because we are the first and only people to ever get away with genocide without the world ever finding out.
    Is it really sensible to explore under every rock and to scrape every barrel dry in search of validation of your theory?
    Frankly I think what is needed now at this juncture of our history, north and south is the complete opposite: a hefty dose of collective tribal amnesia for wrongs real and imagined, sustained and inflicted.
    The snag also is that if you go on an ancestral guilt trip the other side can do it too and where do you stop? Do you want Ulster Protestants wearing sackcloth over the Plantation/Catholic dispossession?
    You remain disturbingly infatuated with the Peter Hart sectarian pogrom/ethnic cleansing canard notwithstanding the fact that seroius questions (to put it mildly)have been raised about his methodology. The Hartist school of history has a general strategy that is extremely difficult to counter. First of all you look for flimsy evidence with which to give a figleaf of plausibility to a sectarian atrocity spiel relating to an event or events from the 1919-1922 period. Then you hammer away as if it is all hard fact. Then you put the burden of proof on the doubters – ‘prove that this did not happen’ – difficult in view of the time lapse and the paucity of records. And finally, their most effective weapon, you scream ‘sectarian denialist/apologist’ at anyone who tries to question their narrative.
    In one of your Sindo articles you call on the readership to uncritically swallow Hartism as it would be ‘good for our souls’ and help us ‘to understand the fears of Northern unionists’. In response to this I would rework a famous Benjamin Franklin quote. He stated the following:
    Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security.
    I would say that anyone who even partially sacrifices the integrity of honest history to get some false reconciliation deserves neither the validation of history nor reconciliation.
    I note the use you make of the Munster rugby team analogy. They have a habit of triumphing against seemingly overwhelming odds by sheer, honest conviction; the Meda Ryanists, armed only with a few internet outlets and, more importantly, *the truth*, have taken on the Goliath of the O’Reilly empire. I rest my case.
    So forget about this 1922 anti-Protestant pogrom stuff, Eoghan. As the business adage goes, no amount of hype can sell a bad product.
    Finally I would urge you to read my comments with an open mind and not dismiss them as a ‘rant’ (your favorite knockout word when you read something you don’t like).

  • Objectivist

    Considering the starting point for you positions (as evidenced from your previous comments and views): you claiming the above is an example of Post hoc ergo propter hoc..
    Quite the opposite. As my moniker suggests I go wherever the facts lead.

  • Turgon

    “Finally I would urge you to read my comments with an open mind”
    You did not exactly start with an open mind; instead you decided that there was no problem and set out to “prove” it. Not very open minded. Your comments were not so much a rant as a rather long meandering attempt to explain away history.

  • Oilifear

    Having grown up in Mayo, I was reminded at a very young age about the wrongs of the age of that age. The IRA in Mayo collapsed after the burning of Moore Hall. There was simply no comeback to something that wrong. The Moore family vowed to never return to Ireland after that atrocity and the people of the area were at pains to protest that they had nothing to do with it.

    Living now in Cork, I am amazed at some attitudes to the period particularly from some Kerry people. They seem oblivious to the wrongs of the time. The “pogrom” thesis, however, lacks history. If 40,000 Protestants left the south it was not because their homes were burnt or they were subject to attack. Atrocities of that sort were limited to the Civil War period – and while too numerous at one, they were not of the sort of scale that could account for 40,000 losses.

    The vast bulk of Protestants were “lost” in the period after the Civil War. Turgon, in your blog you mentioned Mary Robinson. Her family number among the “lost Protestants” of Mayo. Emigration, inter-marriage and conversion are the real culprits. No doubt Ne Temere and mono-cultureless played its part and that was wrong, but “pogrom” is far off the mark.

    It does no justice to those who were wronged to exaggerate the past and allows those in oblivion to continue to deny that wrongs were done.

  • Ulsters my hoemland

    ‘Home rule was Rome rule.’

    [i]”Well UMH, that was the phrase coined by the anti-Home Rulers that help whip up fear among the good Protestant people. I’m sure the head strong Protestant folk of Ulster would not have permitted whatsoever and rightly so any influence of the Catholic Church in the running of Ireland had they agreed to Home Rule. Rememeber it was Home Rule within the UK too! “[/i]

    Greagoir, these ‘head strong Protestant folk of Ulster’ as you call them, deserve better recognition than that. They preserved civil and religious rights for themselves, and in doing so preserved civil and religious rights for everyone on the island.

    I have no doubt that without them the legacy of Protestantism on the island would have disappeared into oblivion never to be seen again. If these brave men hadn’t stepped forward and signed the Ulster Covenant the Ne Temere decree of the Roman Catholic church was simply going to destroy a religion on the basis on numbers.

    Now, is that fair? is it civil?

  • Ulsters my homeland

    ….and just to add:

    is the Ne Temere decree religious? is it even Christian?

    The bible says not to be unequally yoked, so why does Ne Temere defy the bible?

    The sad fact is that not only is the Roman Catholic church denying the religious rights of Protestants in the island, they are denying the religious rights of Catholics, by demanding they disobey the bible.

  • Oilifear

    “If these brave men hadn’t stepped forward and signed the Ulster Covenant the Ne Temere decree of the Roman Catholic church was simply going to destroy a religion on the basis on numbers.”

    No-one has a crystal ball but in my opinion the opposite is the case. Had Catholicism and Irish state not become intertwined Ne Temere and the “special position” could never have happened. It was partition that made that concrete.

    The Catholic Church did not figure in the Sinn Féin of the independence era. How could it with so many Church of Ireland War of Independence leaders? But post partition, Catholicism and nationalism become one and the same. And why not? Ireland went from being a country of 35% Protestants to being a partitioned state of 10% Protestants, bottoming out over time to 3%. The idea that a Londonderry Presbyterian minister would popularise the tricolour today sounds perverse. Yet that is the history.

    “They preserved civil and religious rights for themselves, and in doing so preserved civil and religious rights for everyone on the island.”

    The facts are that Northern Ireland did not become famous for being a haven of religious and civil rights. Meanwhile the southern state failed the litmus test. Had a sectarian line not been drawn across the island, things could have been very different.

  • Mack

    Lads, Ne Temere had nothing to do with the Irish state (Suilven’s excellent point about the special status of the Catholic church not withstanding).

    Given that it means “not rashly”, I suspect the primary motivating purpose was to make mixed marriage difficult (not something to be entered into rashly). Perhaps the hope was the non-Catholic partner would break it off.

    The population density of Northern Protestants pretty much means they can avoid mixed marriages. This was not really the case in the south.

  • Ric Flair

    We WOO! must all WOOO! appreciate the magnanimous the victors were WOO! in northern Ireland! Woo!

  • Oilifear

    “Ne Temere had nothing to do with the Irish state…”

    The state did not write Ne Temere but alongside the state grew a culture that culminated in a time when priests could rape children with impunity. That culture is still existant today, as demonstrated by the refusal of the Catholic Bishop of Cloyne to co-operate with the civil authorities (leagally so, but no less abhorant and indefensible for that fact).

    Ne Temere was a part of that culture and time, and enforcement of Ne Temere demonstrated the authority that the Catholic Chruch commanded in the southern jurisdiction. The state did not write it but it cannot be subtracted from the life of the state at that time.

  • Swift

    My personal problem with McAleese’s Nazi comments is not that they are offensive to Protestants, but that in context they are completely wrong-headed. Wrong headed in a 180 degree way. They expose a false and dangerous logic, which is much more troubling than merely being “offensive”. They compare the awful events of the “troubles” to the even more awful events involving the Nazis and Jews. Then they draw a comparison – Prods brought up to hate Catholics / Germans brought up to hate Jews = end result murders and awful events.

    This is to misrepresent the major and primary dynamic of the troubles in my view. While some Protestants have been brought up to some degree or another to hate Catholics (and we can argue the toss about how much exactly, and of course however much is too much), that was not the root cause of the troubles as McAleese was implicitly portraying it. The practical primary root engine of the troubles was republican violence. By which I mean that they were the one violent actor who would not stop eventually if the other violent actors did so, at least up to the point at which their aims were realised, in which case hypothetically that might have changed.

    If this was caused by any upringing of children then in fact it was caused by bringing up children to view that Ireland had a right to unity irrespective of the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland and also of bringing up Catholic children in a context of what has been crudely dubbed “MOPEry”. As it happens “MOPEry” also played an often too downplayed part in Nazi philosophy (e.g. Treaty of Versailles, even purported control by statistically over-represented “alien” Jewish bankers / academics / politicians in the Weimar Republic and during WWI was a kind of MOPEry) as did national rights to territory (e.g. the Sudetan Germans and other border disputes where territory was ceded to “punish” Germany for WWI) but I digress.

    In fact McAleese’s comments were an example of what caused the troubles in the first place, and what fuelled them after they had started. An over the top comparison of Catholics position as being like that of Jews in Nazi Germany is exactly the kind of thing that, when taught to children, led to thirty years of murder and mayhem here. It’s this 180 degree wrong logic that reveals McAleese’s true attitudes. To me that’s the problem, not that she was “offensive”.

  • Swift


    We even conceal the true nature of the dispute. Its just ‘sectarian’ which these days carries a lower level of distaste than the correct description of racism. Some Prods hate Catholics because they see them as Irish, a different racial group. Some Catholics hate Prods because they see them as the Brits. Some of them actually revel in that dispute. But ask them would they say the same if the other side were Chinese or Black and they waver….because they know that its wrong and the very use of the milder term ‘sectarian’ allows them to conceal that (most of all from themselves).

    I don’t really buy this. It’s far too strong and goes too far. If someone in the Republic of Ireland opposed the RoI becoming a state of India, and returning the fair requisite number of representatives (by population) to the parliament in New Delhi, would that necessarily make them a racist? Can the only motive be hatred for Indians, even if it is not racist hatred? Can the only motive be sectarianism against Hinduism?

    I think the bottom line for most on both sides here is not to be engulfed in a democratic polity in which their perceived group is out-voted and has no power to self determine. It requires something much less than “racism” or “hatred” to make that a fundamental issue. In that these different identifications with polities cannot entirely be practically geographically divided any solution must be GFA-esque, whether it involves a united Ireland or the current UK. I believe that the hatred that exists is largely a PRODUCT of the perception of the “other side” trying to impose such a polity on the other, though that can be portrayed as, in a more magnamous way, a wish not to abandon their own people to such a polity.

    I say this not to diminish “hatred” or “racism” (as far as that term makes sense in Northern Ireland), but really to show that eliminating hatred or racism is not, at root, a solution to our problems, noble as it may be. In that way, unfortunately, while we have a problem of hatred and “racism”, we have a much bigger and deeper problem than mere hatred and “racism”.

    In a way that is another criticism of McAleese’s remark, though perhaps unfairly without letting her expand on how she views the whole “Northern Ireland question” in totality. To portray hatred as a root cause of our division is itself logically to delegitimise either one or both or our identifications with different polities.

  • Objectivist

    There was a parallel campaign of loyalist violence claiming some 1,000 odd lives. This cannot be seen as purely reactive as it preceded and outlasted republican violence. Loyalists carried out the first murders of the Troubles (Malvern St -Gusty Spence etc), the first bombings (the UPV bombings of water and electricity utilities outside Belfast in 1969), murdered the first policeman (Constable Arbuckle in 1969), carried out the first crossborder attack (Ballyshannon electricity station,Donegal,1969),and were the first to fire on the British Army (Shankhill Road Oct 10/11, 1969). Most of what political violence has been going on since 1998 has been carried out by loyalists – multiple pipebombings etc.
    You can hardly be accused of reading my comments with an open mind. I made a detailed effort to debunk the false and quitessentially ahistorical Hartist/Harrisit meme.

  • lan

    Paolo di Canio was accused of giving a nazi salute when he gave a fascist one.
    “Some people have told me that we need fascism. We have the Orange order. We have the B-Specials. What need have we of fascism?”

    So the calling of the proto-fascis statelet nazi is corret. (Tht is f she d don so?)