“No intelligent person would seek an apology for such a deed in the middle of a very dirty war”

On Wednesday evening Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s Head of State, will making her only speech of her four day visit at the State Dinner. It’s this that is likely to be the political fulcrum of the whole visit, and upon which many Irish nationalists north and south will be expecting to hear important messages, not least about the past.

But Kevin Myers has an interesting fly to foist into the ointment, as he reflects on the asymetrical memories of the Irish and the English. In particular, he questions the validity of historical apologies, in particular with regard to the first Bloody Sunday:

…no soldiers opened fire at Croke Park, just policemen — and most of the recruits doing the shooting were Irish. And if the British intelligence was so crippled by the assassinations, how come the terms of the Treaty 13 months later so comprehensively favoured Britain’s strategic interests?

Queen Elizabeth was not born when Bloody Sunday occurred, and neither she nor any of her family had any association with it. This cannot be said of the Irish State, of which the third Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, was involved in the shooting of an unarmed army officer that morning — the one-legged Captain Baggalay, who was not involved in intelligence, but in civil administration.

His murder was an atrocious affair, but no intelligent person would seek an apology for such a deed in the middle of a very dirty war so long ago.

  • RepublicanStones

    I think its a sign of maturity of a state if it can do without such apologies. However it is also a sign of the maturity of a state if it can apologise for past wrongs. Take your pick.

  • Henry94

    The people who were murdered at Croke Park were watching a match and had nothing to do with events earlier in the day. If Myers is saying that the civilian deaths were reprisals carried out by British forces (the police were British forces just as much as the rest of them) then how the hell can a British monarch go to Croke Park and not offer an apology on behalf of the British state.

    She could avoid Croke Park and say nothing. But if she goes then she can’t not apologise.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Why can’t the woman just be allowed to see the horses and have a pint of the good stuff and a bit of Irish dancing and that be it?

    All this political nonsense associated with an 85 year old woman is already tiresome and she hasn’t even arrived yet.

  • I expect there’ll be expression of regret in the speech, which will be read by both sides up here in the way that suits them.

  • JR

    Kevin could do a better job of making his point than defending an arm of the most powerful military in the world massacring innocent civilians at a football match. To be honest it seems to be a rather attention seeking piece.

    I know that some of the worst incidents in Irish history were carried out by opposing sides in the civil war. Irish men on Irish men but atrocities carried out by the British in Ireland live strong in the folk memory and an apology would help to lay many old ghosts to rest.

  • Neil

    Should she apologise? Personally I literally couldn’t care less, but I would argue she has a link to the events (executions) carried out in the name of and on behalf of her Grandfather against the people who’s she will be laying a wreath at.

    Also, worth pointing out to some folk who may not be aware of the Independent’s editorial line, here are a couple of interesting articles which should illustrate that paper’s (owned by the same people as the Belfast Tele) angle:

    Never fear your majesty, we are royalists at heart:

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/never-fear-your-majesty-we-are-royalists-at-heart-2647566.html

    Thank God for squeezing us beside England:

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/declan-lynch-thank-god-for-squeezing-us-beside-england-2647435.html

    Everyone wants to come dine with the Queen:

    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/everyone-wants-to-come-dine-with-queen-2647537.html

    And dozens more along the same fawning lines.

    http://www.irishcentral.com/news/nuzhound/

  • AGlassOfHine

    Well,unless this State Dinner is at croke park,I think it’s a mote point !! 😉

  • Taoiseach

    Kevin’s point was that the history is more complex than the myth, that many of the British officers shot weren’t intelligence officers at all, and several were Irish. And that those who did the shooting at Croke Park weren’t British army but Irish police.

    Calling people “crown forces” does nothing to address the fact that it wasn’t a simple question of good Irish and bad British.

    Republicans have done nothing to address the fact that we had and have a million people in Ireland who regard themselves as British. At every stage from 1916 onwards republicans have shown themselves to be practical partitionists. What are they prepared to do to make unionists feel at home in Ireland?

  • “making her only speech”

    A fly on the wall recording of the preparation of this speech might have been very revealing. She didn’t look at all happy during the Messines event and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were differences of opinion/emphasis between the Queen and the political establishment. Look out for the body language once again.

    AGlassOfHine, I’m sure you meant moot point; being dropped in the mote would be a different matter!

  • oracle

    Kevin Myers is just being controversial for the sake of controversy and he’s just doing the print journalism version of internet trolling.
    He know full well that it was an auxiliary patrol with RIC personnel mixed throughout (BLACK AND TAN) he is also fully aware that the commander was a British officer and the entire raid was a British operation.

    However I don’t think the British head of state should apologise for individual events during a time of conflict as it only demeans and brands as irrelevant those persons killed or injured in other events during the same period.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Myers says that “no soldiers opened fire at Croke Park, just policemen — and most of the recruits doing the shooting were Irish.”

    The massacre was carried out by the Auxiliaries, an elite military force made up mostly of officer class soldiers, that was referred to in British wartime propaganda, laughably, as a force of “police cadets”. What Myers is doing here is repeating propaganda from which even the British government has desisted since the 1920s.

    As to the second part of his statement, that most of the shooting was done by Irishmen, there is absolutely no evidence to support this statement whatsoever. It is of course possible that RIC policemen, exclusively Irishmen, in Croke Park that day took part in the shooting – indeed it would be hard to doubt it – but it is established fact that the crown forces were under the command of an Auxiliary officer, a Major Mills (a noticeably martial title for a police officer, no?). We can also compare the records of the Auxiliaries with that of the RIC throughout the period: any such comparison would make it obvious to any reasonable person that the Auxiliaries had by far the more bloodthirsty M.O.

    Myers, however, seeks to deflect all blame from Britain for what was a massacre carried out in Ireland, primarily by British people and entirely by people in British uniforms working for Britain.

    Make no mistake, there is a concerted effort underway to deprive Irish people of our very history, and fifth columnists like Liar Myers is at the forefront of this attack.

  • Rory Carr

    Well Myers at least got it right about the killing of Captain Baggalay (and by inference the other British agents who were shot on that day) in that, “no intelligent person would seek an apology for such a deed in the middle of a very dirty war so long ago.”

    What he does not add however is that every other intelligent person is indeed expecting a recognition by HM Queen Elizabeth II in her address at Croke Park of the great wrong that was committed there on that Sunday long ago and an expression of regret at least of her country’s actions on that day.

    The US Cavalry needs to an extend an apology for Wounded Knee and Sand Creek, the Plains Indians are not obliged to apologise for the Fetterman debacle and Little Big Horn.

  • Crubeen

    “And if the British intelligence was so crippled by the assassinations, how come the terms of the Treaty 13 months later so comprehensively favoured Britain’s strategic interests”

    It was my understanding that Lloyd George told the Irish delegation that if the terms of the Treaty were no accepted, the British Government was prepared to put 100,000 troops into Ireland to impose a militaty solution. The IRA was fatally weakened by the Truce so Collins had little choice. All along he probably was prepared to take what he could get as one of the “stepping stones.”

    Of course it has been mooted that Devalera was a British agent and remained one for life. The hypothesis is that his life was spared in 1916 provided he did what his English masters demanded. It would explain a lot of his stupidity.

    Nevin,
    “I’m sure you meant moot point; being dropped in the mote would be a different matter”

    I think you mean ‘moat’ into which, as it is a body of water, one can be dropped. You could be dropped on a ‘mote’ which I believe is a hill fort of some sort of other.

    Ah! The joys of the English language … I had a bandage wound round my wound last evening

  • “in her address at Croke Park”

    Rory, is there to be a speech at Croke Park?

  • Crubeen

    PS
    Nevin,

    Try saying that last sentence when you have more than a drop of the pure in you!

  • How silly of me, Crubeen, you’re quite right. There must have been a particle of dust in my ear 😉

  • AGlassOfHine

    Indeed,but seeing as there were Irish men at Wounded Knee and Sand Creek,shouldn’t someone be apologising for their subjugation of the Native Americans ? 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    Not according to the British Ambassador Nevin.

  • Rory Carr

    “…is there to be a speech at Croke Park?”

    I think I may have been a bit premature there, Nevin. It appears that the only address by Her Majesty will be after the formal dinner.

  • Sorry, Mick, what does your ‘not’ refer to?

  • Its an opportunity for the Irish government to show it can do pomp and ceremony as well as anyone. No hands in pockets so far, but then that’s such a juvenile thing to do, what might be described as more soccer than rugby, and just think the only part of the visit the queen is likely to really enjoy is the horses…

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s okay Nev, Rory got it.

  • No problem, Mick, I was just seeking clarity 🙂

  • busybee

    surely the real apology is the one that the Irish Government should offer for its role in the formation, financing, training and arming of the provos – and the catalogue of deaths of British Citizens that resulted in both in Northern ireland and on mainland GB.

    Indeed if ever there was a moment when Ireland could have chosen to accept its own responsibilities and act as a responsible mature government then this was it – but it would appear that Enda Kenny as with previous incumbants simply cannot bring himself to acknowledge the way in which Ireland facilitated the murder of what they would regard as fellow Irishmen and women

  • TopherMcCann

    Even if one accepts that Myers’ account is factually accurate (which many do not), ie, that it was mainly Irish police who fired the shots, it does not follow that an apology is something that only an unintelligent person would seek. Are we to believe that these men attacked a crowd of civilians in Croke Park of their own volition? Of course this is not the case, they were operating, regardless of their nationality, under orders from British forces. The Queen is representative of those forces. It could not matter less that the Queen was not born when these killings took place. Indeed, David Cameron offered an apology for the somewhat analogous acts of Bloody Sunday in 1972, however, he was 6 years old when these events took place and equally has little association with the forces operating on that day.

  • I’m not sure if anyone here will say it so I will.

    I wasn’t bothered that the queen was coming here and I didn’t intend to watch her arrival but I found myself switching on and to my surprise I felt very proud – of Ireland. The Aras looked wonderful, the armed forces there were superb. The two national anthems were very moving and the sound of canon fire in the background seemed appropriate. This may well turn out to be Mary McAleeses finest hour and I really didn’t expect that!

    I really am very proud of Ireland today and that surprises me.

  • The visit which I will ignore is not so much about making History as re-writing History and part of a wider choreography which will likely involve further “Royal” visits and all kindsa nonsense during the upcoming centenaries, pleasantly offset by a Sinn Féin Minister of Culture.
    Kevin Myers is the duty controversialist. Not a serious commentator. Some “right on” liberals agree with much of what Myers might say in this particular context but again this is uncomfortable alongside his outspoken right wing views on migration, social welfare etc.
    Myers is of course English born and of course theres nothing wrong with that except he believes with some justification that his parents could not have stayed in post independent in Ireland. His opinions are quite properly based on a family history narrative.
    And perhaps formed in the minor Catholic public school of Ratcliffe, the poor mans Amplethorpe which has churned out a few Tory MPs including Norman St John Stevas.
    The school, a product of English Catholic 19th century revivalism rather than overt recusancy or Jacobite leanings shares the English Catholic Churchs “imperialist” attitude to Ireland.
    It is right and proper that Chid is father to the Man but Myers shows no sign of having been genuinely influenced by anything after his English birth and English schooling.

  • Is there a sudden rash of measles breaking out on Slugger? MV has spots so does Topher McCann and even, cough, cough Mick Fealty had one. I suppose its too much to hope the gadget that works the spots has been and gorn wrong….

  • Rory Carr

    I must say that I was not as impressed as Pippakin with the artillery fire. Twenty-one shots – twenty-one! And every bloody one missed !

    Not a lot to crow about there, Pips.

  • Rory Carr

    But they missed with such style! I honestly don’t know if its the usual thing to fire the salute during the playing of national anthems, but hearing canon fire in the background of both anthems seemed, appropriate.

    And just think this time everyone lives!

  • AGlassOfHine

    I too am proud of Ireland today. The reception for Her Majesty at Phoenix Park went very well indeed.
    Two traditions share this Island,and they always will.
    Ireland,North and South is a great melting pot of peoples and religions,(and none) from around the globe.
    This hankering after an *Ireland free from British Influence*,will today,once and for all,be seen to be the ludicrous notion it always was.

    Three cheers for Her Majesty…………….

  • JR

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying, a glass. But I don’t think any right minded nationalist ever thought it possible or desirable to be free of British influence, given they are the global giant on our doorstep. Nationalism is about self determination not anti-Britishness.

    There remains one major issue in my mind. When she visits the North, she visits as a ruler; everyone has to bow and curtsey etc. When she is in the south she is there as an equal. Signing the visitors book, No bowing, no curtsying. In my mind that is hugely symbolic of Irelands relationship with Britain as a whole.

  • Henry94

    AGlassOfHine

    This hankering after an *Ireland free from British Influence*,will today,once and for all,be seen to be the ludicrous notion it always was.

    Nobody objects to influence. It’s coercion we have a problem with. Political independence does not mean isolation just self-government.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Henry,

    As a NI unionist can I expect the reciprocal from the Republic with regards to coercion?

  • joeCanuck

    A lot of claptrap is occasionally thrown out about the queen being a war criminal, for example, since she is nominally the head of the armed forces of the UK. It has been hundreds of years since a UK monarch set military or political policy. That’s totally in the hands of the PM although sometimes, as on both Bloody Sundays, individuals or groups run amok.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Congal

    “As a NI unionist can I expect the reciprocal from the Republic with regards to coercion?”

    Can you give an example of when the Republic of Ireland coerced NI unionists, you whatabouting troll?

  • Skinner

    What a load of whiney old nonsense, this seeking an apology. I reckon most of the Irish people are mature and secure enough about their country’s place not to require an apology. Indeed I think some would see it inappropriate and misplaced, were one to be given. The Irish have hurt the Brits, the Brits have hurt the Irish, some of the Irish are Brits and they hurt themselves, some of the Irish hurt the Irish after the Brits left. How could you possibly come up with a form of words to express regret for all of that? And why would you want to? History is another country.

  • Neil

    What a load of whiney old nonsense, this seeking an apology.

    I’m not aware of anyone who is ‘seeking’ an apology. It’s the typical strawman argument, some unspecified person wants an apology so our Indo ‘journalist’ can explain why it’s not necessary.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Billy,

    Yip. After the truce was signed there were regular incursions into NI by the Free State forces. There were even hostages taken. Aitken in particular was responsible for the odd bit of coercion.

    Articles 2 and 3 were not exactly respecting NI’s right to self determination.

    Roll onto the 70s and the Republic’s government funded the Ra. I do not believe Captain Kelly acted alone. Bruton tried to have him pardoned. I’m assuming he had access to info that neither you or I have.

    Roll onto today and whilst articles 2 and 3 have gone the Republic refers to itself as Ireland which is like a defacto declaration of sovereignty over the whole island. Knowing how sensitive some nationalists are to the geographical term British Isles I would’ve thought they wouldn’t be mixing geographical terms with political ones just in case confusion arose…

  • Skinner

    Neil – either am I aware of anyone seeking an apology, come to think of it

  • Billy Pilgrim

    CC

    Really? Is that all you’ve got? A bit of untidiness in the immediate aftermath of the Treaty and … that’s it?

    You have absolutely no evidence to back your claim that “the Republic’s government funded the Ra.” Nor does anyone else. All you have is a wish to believe it.

    And neither paper claims nor rhetorical inaccuracy amount to coercion. Check a dictionary if you don’t believe me.

    But of course you know all this. You troll.

    Roll onto today and whilst articles 2 and 3 have gone the Republic refers to itself as Ireland which is like a defacto declaration of sovereignty over the whole island. Knowing how sensitive some nationalists are to the geographical term British Isles I would’ve thought they wouldn’t be mixing geographical terms with political ones just in case confusion arose…

  • tacapall

    Congal did the majority of Ireland vote for partition, does the results of the 1918 general election not count. When did the nine counties of ulster vote for partition.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Billy,

    Sorry I don’t have a list to recite to you.

    Re funding the Ra, I never said I’d any evidence. However, why would Bruton who would’ve been in a position to have it want to pardon Captain Kelly. I’ve no evidence that Al Capone ever killed anyone. I’m still pretty sure he did.

    Hi Tacapall,

    I don’t believe the 9 county, English invented, Ulster ever voted on partition. Likewise, I don’t think Ireland ever did either. In the 1918 election the Conservative and Unionist Party won. Despite this, Irish nationalists still decided to partition the UK.

  • anne warren

    Clongal Claen wrote:
    Despite this, Irish nationalists still decided to partition the UK.

    I really don’t know what you mean.

    The 1920 Government of Ireland Act was passed by Westminster parliament and signed by King George V. The British Government of the time hoped this would be the final statement of the Irish Home Rule problem. The 6 so-called “Unionist Counties” in the North were put under a delegated authority of a parliament in Belfast. The rest of Ireland would have a similar arrangement under a parliament in Dublin. Elections were held the day after the Act was promulgated.
    This was a form of Home Rule the Ulster Unionists readily accepted since it meant that within the 6 counties they would have an assured and permanent majority.
    Hope this clears up any misconceptions you were harbouring that Irish nationalists decided to partition the UK!

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Anne,

    It was Tacapall that brought up the 1918 election. Take it up with him/her.

  • tacapall

    Bit of fancy footwork there from you Congal if you dont know your history just throw your hands up,

    In the 1918 election the Conservative and Unionist Party won. Despite this, Irish nationalists still decided to partition the UK.

    Were you taught this or is this just how you imagined it was this the time when the minority became the majority.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_general_election,_1918

    “Unionists held a majority vote in 4 of the 9 counties of Ulster. The other 5 counties had a Nationalist majority, including Tyrone and Fermanagh, which would later become part of Northern Ireland”.

  • Crubeen

    Rory,

    “I must say that I was not as impressed as Pippakin with the artillery fire. Twenty-one shots – twenty-one! And every bloody one missed !”

    What did you expect? They were British made 25 pounder field guns of Second World War vintage. Now if they had used the M102 Howitzer they might have had a result.

    You can tell how useless the Brits are … all those Germans on the balcony on the Big Wedding Day … and the RAF didn’t get one of them!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    CC

    “Sorry I don’t have a list to recite to you.”

    Don’t feel bad. You don’t have a list because there is no list. I’ll take this as the closest I’m likely to get to an admission that there is absolutely no history of the Republic of Ireland (nor the Free State) coercing NI’s unionists in any way, shape or form. Your implication was pure trolling. Shame on you.

    “Re funding the Ra, I never said I’d any evidence.”

    Again, don’t feel bad. It’s not your fault that you don’t have any evidence. None exists.

    So, now that we have clarified that the Irish Republic has never, in any way, coerced NI’s unionists, you can withdraw your whataboutery, re. Henry’s original point that no-one in Ireland objects to influence, it’s coercion we have a problem with.

    (I could certainly specify instances of British coercion in Ireland, but it might take me several months to complete the list.)

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Tacapall,

    The point, as I suspect you know, is that the 1918 election was UK wide. The conservatives and unionists won. Therefore it matters not that Ireland as a whole voted for nationalist parties. In the same way lots of States didn’t vote for Obama. But he’s still their president. That’s the way it works. The Republic could well have included several other counties or bits of counties. That’s what Griffiths was hoping for. But unfortunately, and I mean this as it’d be far better for South Armagh, etc to be in the Republic, Collins rather fekked up the negotiations on the Border commission. Which then didn’t happen. Incidentally, why are you fixated on the 9 county Ulster? That’s an Elizabethan English construct.

    Hi Billy,

    This isn’t a court of law. Evidence does not need to stand up to the same rigours. However, do you seriously believe that the Republic’s government knew nothing of the arms payments? If you do there’s no real point continuing is there? I suspect that you don’t actually believe what you’re writing though. All you’re doing is arguing for arguing sake. It’s rather as tedious as Gerry’s denials. That’s even starting to wear down republicans…

  • Here’s my prediction – tomorrow night, we’ll all be discussing the semantics surrounding words like “regret” and phrases like “wrongs of the past” and asking what exactly constitutes an apology if the word itself or “sorry” isn’t used.

    Then we’ll all go away, interpreting it just as we want to anyway.

    My guess is that the Queen’s speech will be more forward-looking than backward-looking. Looking to the future is much easier and profitable for the two states.

  • joeCanuck

    We shouldn’t forget the past for oft stated reasons, but yes, BG, we are better off looking to and planning for the future.
    (We should be starting to build very high sea walls, for example).

  • If a picture paints a thousand words, then the sight of the Queen bowing in front of the memorial to Republicans yesterday, is worth a thousand apologies tonight for Bloody Sunday in 1920 or 1972. The principle has been conceded that armed force Republicanism was legitimate, and not simply terrorism for it’s own sake. There’s no rowing back from this, so Unionism has had a sharp kick in the teeth from their own govt.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Madraj55,

    That would be a very sorry state of affairs. Because that would mean armed force loyalism would also be legitimate, and not simply terrorism for it’s own sake. Can’t see that helping unite the people…

  • CG. You’re correct in saying it will do nothing for unity in NI, but after this visit, the Union is still secure with NI in it for some time yet, but stripped of legitimacy from the mouth of it’s own rulers. In other words the British govt said to unionists ‘you can have your N Ireland, but the other side were right all along. Put that into context Gregory.

  • CG. It’s not quite legitimising loyalist campaign, since as far as the British govt were concerned, they were defending the unionist side with the Army here, and loyalist campaign was unnecessary and sectarian killing for it’s own sake.i

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Madraj55,

    You misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m talking about the future and whether armed force loyalism would be legitimate should a UI be forced against the will of loyalists. The British government would have nothing to do with it. You seem to think terrorism is legitimate. Dangerous thoughts…

  • CG. I see what you mean about the loyalist threat in the future should a UI come about. I don’t agree with the campaign of murder carried out for 30 years by either side, although the word terrorism is bandied about by politicians in order to delegitimise genuine causes.