Gay Mitchell and the Commonwealth

Gay Mitchell may be no stranger to Slugger, but for those unfamiliar with the other candidates in the presidential election, Cormac McQuinn’s critical piece in the Daily Mail back in July provides a useful introduction to the Dublin MEP.

That Slugger piece from 2006 links back to Mitchell’s address to the annual Fine Gael Collins-Griffith memorial in August 2006 on the Fine Gael website, an item which is no longer accessible (or archived) although some quotes and more comments can be read here and here. It reprised a recurring Mitchell theme of the Republic rejoining the [British] Commonwealth, which may or not help him displace Dana as the potential Unionist candidate of choice.

Mitchell authored a piece that appeared in The Irish Times entitled Northern Ireland: self-determination once again.’ which was published on the 15th August 1991 (and reputedly reprinted by Mitchell as election literature). It gives an earlier variation on the same theme (originally can be accessed via paywall on proquest.com or similar). A brief flavour is given by the direct quotes below:

It is clear that a substantial part of the Irish nation gives its allegiance to Britain and the British crown, for whatever reasons. The creation of an Irish nation-state is neither feasible or desireable at this time. It may never be.

…A new Anglo-Irish treaty could address the question of defence and security as well as economic co-operation, and could reopen the way for all Irish representation at the Commonwealth. This in turn might have significant economic consequences for the island…

It was only last year that a Fine Gael TD was recommending handing the Republic of Ireland back to the British crown with an apology, so, it will be interesting to see what platform Mitchell actually campaigns on …

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  • That Mail article spends more time than necessary on the gangster cousin. Guilt by association?

    Mitchell’s views on the commonwealth and defence policy seem entirely reasonable to me. His musings on dual monarchy sound more like an academic exercise than a concrete proposal though. His basic point that republicans cannot expect unionists to make all the compromises is incontestable.

    Michael Ring’s sense of humour is very well appreciated out here in the Wesht. Seems it doesn’t travel.

  • SDLP supporter

    Um, De Valera’s grandson, Eamon O Cuiv TD, the thwarted Fianna Fail presidential candidate (what a boo-boo by Michael Martin!), and the Provos’ favourite Fianna Failer, has also gone on record as favouring the Irish Republic joining the British Commonwealth.

    Interestingly, at the time Costello declared the Republic in 1949, Dev-then in opposition- was distinctly unimpressed, not only because of the ostensible objections (32 county Republic or nothing or ‘why didn’t I think of that stunt?’), but because he wanted to retain a Commonwealth link that didn’t cost anything.

    Anyway, any controversy about Gay Mitchell’s past is hardly in the Martin McGuinness category, is it?

  • Greenflag

    At this stage it might not be a bad ploy . I mean if he becomes recognised as the ‘Commonwealth candidate ‘ he may attract the votes and/ or support of the British community in the Republic and indeed those of Commonwealth countries now resident here .

    On the other hand it could be interpreted as a last desperate attempt to avoid being placed 6th in first preferences in a field of 7 .

    While I have no strong feelings either way on the ‘commonwealth’ and I support greater defence and security and economic cooperation with our neighbouring island – I’d have my doubts about commonwealth membership having ‘significant ‘ economic consequences for the country .Did he ever elaborate on the detail of the whys and wherefores of this ‘significance’ or was it just another canard thrown into the spiel ?

  • Mick Fealty

    ‘Handing Ireland back to the crown may be houw you interpret that suggestion, but it is not actually true. The commonwealth comprises Republics and countries that previously had nothing to do with the old Empire.

    So let me ask an obvious question. What, in principle, is actually wrong with the Republic joining the Commonwealth?

    I can think of a bunch of practical reasons why it would be good for the country, and none of them include so called ‘unionist outreach’?

  • Dec

    ‘…all Irish representation at the Commonwealth. This in turn might have significant economic consequences for the island…’

    Judging by that Mail article the same economic consequences could be achieved if Gay surrendered his passport.

  • The Commonwealth is an old boys’ club, and as with all such clubs, it comes with a healthy ration of networking and back-scratching opportunities. How that translates into tangible benefits is anyone’s guess, but the costs involved (in both currency and pride) are minimal. Now that the Queen is welcome on Irish soil, it’s the next logical step in normalising relations, not only with the UK but also with the other members. Considering the depth of Irish influence and emigration in those countries, it has as much right to be called the Irish Commonwealth…

    Discussions about rejoining the Commonwealth exercise the more easily-offended republicans, whereas the majority are not sufficiently motivated either way.

  • Mark McGregor

    Gay and his party are perfectly placed to submit a proposed Constitutional amendment to the people for consideration at a referendum. It’s up to supporters to make the arguments for, clearly they don’t feel able to argue the idea for real in front of the people.

    I can’t see any strong economic imperative given the already extremely healthy trade and other relationships between Ireland and Britain. It’s up to others to make them tangible if they support a proposal that sees an English monarch as the embodiment of any structure an Irish Republic would participate in.

  • mylesgee

    Gay might be liable to loose his temper on air and go off the rails when questioned.

    Hope no-one mention his plans for a squadron of jet fighters to be deployed in Baldonnel in case Al Quaeda terrorists hijacked an airliner from Dublin Airport to fly into Leinster House?

    Royal Air Force jets at that, then there was his Inchicore campaign and a unique suggestion – even by Loyalist standards – that the Queen should replace the President?

    Naw he wouldn’t! What about his questioning the right of the Irish people to vote in referendum’s.

  • Mark,

    Would it require an amendment? Commonwealth membership (unlike EU membership) does not imply any dilution of sovereignty.

  • gendjinn

    Mick there’s nothing wrong in joining the Commonwealth.

    The smart play is to retain it as a bargaining chip for the re-unification negotiations.

  • Mike the First

    “It is clear that a substantial part of the Irish nation gives its allegiance to Britain and the British crown, for whatever reasons.”

    No, Gay. Thanks for trying, but speaking for myself I’m not part of “the Irish nation”. I don’t know any Northern Irish unionist who would see themselves as such,

    “The creation of an Irish nation-state is neither feasible or desireable at this time”

    Surely the Republic of Ireland is an Irish nation-state?

  • “A substantial part of what my intended audience would regard as the Irish nation” perhaps.

  • Jud

    I’m trying to think through how this would work in a practical sense:

    – The constitution would need to be changed to add the Queen as head of state
    – The position of President would be abolished and replaced with a representative of HRH in Ireland – a Governor General let’s say
    – GG position could be by appointment or election (a la current Presidential elections)
    – Constitutional deadlocks etc. (e.g. hung parliaments, parliamentary dissolutions) would be handled by the GG (not sure how much say the monarch would actually have/take in these scenarios
    – HRH goes on the currency
    – All constitutional changes need to be approved by the GG (the Queen’s proxy)
    – As Head of State it would be reasonable to expect pictures of HRH in parliament, court rooms etc
    – Military would likely be ‘Royal’ forces
    – Anything else?

    Certainly looks like a weakening of sovereignty to me.
    A serious national discussion on this may a more ‘dangerous’ topic than anything Sinn Fein could dream of getting on the agenda

  • Jud,

    Absolutely none of those is a requirement of Commonwealth membership. Canada may do it like that, but it doesn’t mean that all Commonwealth members are the same.

    Do you want me to cut and paste Wikipedia in here, or are you capable of looking it up yourself?

  • Were there an issue for debate here it is in the words the Republic rejoining the [British] Commonwealth. Note the necessary addition of the square brackets. The British Commonwealth ceased to exist some time back — somebody remind me precisely when. Today it seems to exist as a continuing diplomatic booze-up, access to overseas aid, with a sporting arm attached.

    No Jud @ 5:01pm, I think you are adrift on most of those caveats. Certainly, there is no requirement for Elizabeth What's-her-name to be Head of State — unless, of course, the RoI was daft enough to rejoin the UK (small advantage: dual currency — and, famously, good money drives our bad — so, interesting experiment.)

    On the other hand, if the UK defence cuts continue apace Óglaigh na hÉireann could be the most potent military presence in the archipelago.

    Now: for all our local experts and pub-quizzers (with no cheating). There are more Commonwealth countries than US States. See if you can list more of one than the other. And I couldn’t.

  • Spot the missing >

    Blame it on a marvellous afternoon, sitting in the sun, quaffing Stonehenge Eye-Opener at the Garden Gate, Hampstead.

    Now — did we get the codes right this time?

  • Rory Carr

    No, Jud.

    That might be how it would work out in Gay’s wettest of wet dreams, but not at all anything like the changes, if indeed any at all, that would be required to take up membership of the Commonwealth.

    Even a militant, mad red republican like me is prepared to consider the arguments for such a move and please, bear in mind that the 26-county Republic imports more from the UK each year than former colonies Australia, India, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore combined or more than Norway, Sweden and Spain combined, a position of strength surely in any relationship with the UK and the reason why the UK was prepared to be so sweet in the matter of extending credit lines at the peak of the Republic’s economic crisis.

  • Jud

    Condescending tone aside Andrew, I took some trouble to map out a model for Commonwealth membership that is most certainly in use. Canada as you say, Australia, NZ etc.

    I haven’t heard any elaboration on what the proposal is for Ireland, so perhaps you could share your spectacular insight with me on what the finer points are in the proposed model.

  • John Ó Néill

    Mick, the handback was the Michael Ring proposal, not Mitchell’s (and surely any such request would have to addressed to the troika not the Oireachtas nowadays).

  • Progressive Unionist

    Jud – the Canadian model of Commonwealth membership, reflects their own particular historical evolution, and esp the fact that their traditional institutions like the monarchy, flying the Union flag (still flies outside the Ontario parliament, the BC supreme court etc etc) are seen as a bit of a cultural/political bulwark against the elephant next door.

    There’s no need for any of that in order to join the Commonwealth. Canada’s a constitutional monarchy – but a large majority of modern Commonwealth countries are republics just like Ireland.

    Ireland could remain a totally independent republic while participating in the Commonwealth – really the Commonwealth is just another outlet for Irish foreign policy, building economic and cultural links etc. – it doesn’t involve pooling of sovereignty in the way that the EU does.

    The role of the Queen as ‘Head of the Commonwealth’ is just an honorary one, and it won’t necessarily pass on to Charles after the Queen’s death. I wouldn’t mind seeing someone like Nelson Mandela as CW head for example.

  • Leave Nelson Mandela out of it. He has earned his rest in his remaining few years. Pick someone else please.

  • Rory Carr

    ” I wouldn’t mind seeing someone like Nelson Mandela as CW head for example.”

    Someone like Nelson Mandela, Progressive ? President McGuinness fits the bill beautifully don’t you agree ?

  • Greenflag

    Mike the First ,

    ‘Surely the Republic of Ireland is an Irish nation-state?’

    In theory you are right but in practice it’s not so black and white or green and orange or even red and blue . As always borderlines have their limitations as we know from the history of not just Ireland and Britain but of Europe . A large part of the ‘Irish ‘ nation lives and resides outside the Republic with probably slightly more living in Britain (first generation ) than in Northern Ireland if one accepts which Mr Mitchell doesn’t that NI Unionists are not part of the Irish nation . Mr Mitchell seems to include ‘unionists ‘ as part of the Irish nation despite the assertions of many if not most of said Unionists that they are not and never have been
    .
    And then there is our largest minority in the Republic i.e the British , followed by Poles , Chinese and many others who together make up some 10% of the population .

    I’ll not mention the diaspora which runs into the tens of millions many of whom feel they have some affinity with the old sod despite residing in places like Kentucky or Umbogintwini for several generations .

    So to be honest this ‘Irish nation ‘ extends far beyond titular lines on a map and includes people who 30 years ago would have been considered ‘foreigners ‘ even . I know this because as a kid growing up in Dublin one our neighbours was from Cork and my parents always referred to them as bloody foreigners . I sometimes wonder what they would now call some of the more exotically originated folk from east of the Rhine and the Urals and south of the Sahara never mind that shower north of El Paso 😉

    Probably unprintable ;)?

    .

  • West_Brit_Watch

    West Brits. Aren’t you just sick of them? They’re springing up everywhere since Martin announced his candidacy, no more so than in the southern media. The lads in the indo and Times are having hysterics at the thoughts of Martin being our Uachtaráin, and now surprise surprise the old “re-join the Commonwealth” debate arises.

    What a nation of boot-lickers this country has become, if we’re not bowing to the EU/IMF we’re frolicking with the idea of re-joining the very thing our patriots gave their lives to be free of. Its time the people of southern Ireland got off their knees and ended the fawning over British royalty that is so prevalent in the established media. We are a distinct race, separate in identity and culture from the Anglo-Saxons. We neither need to re-join this meaningless club, nor do the majority of people want to.

  • Mark McGregor

    Andrew,

    On review I agree joining the Commonwealth would no longer require a constitutional amendment given the current nature of that body.

    There may be a need to tinker with Republic of Ireland Act to accept the titular role of the British monarch as Head of the Commonwealth.

    So it’s even easier for Gay and fellow travellers – they just need to introduce the relevant legislation to the Oireachtas and have it passed.

  • Mark McGregor @ 8:02 pm:

    tinker with Republic of Ireland Act

    Why?

    The 1948 Act is one of the briefest, most adaptable, most politic on record.

    Section 3 (in full): The President, on the authority and on the advice of the Government, may exercise the executive power or any executive function of the State in or in connection with its external relations.

    In other words, a measure of Oireachtas Éireann associates itself with the Commonwealth — not necessarily even as a full member, but as an hanger-on. Bingo! That’s it! The Commonwealth Secretariat adds another name to the address book, asks for a contribution to running costs, and ponders “Can we borrow a nice hotel complex for one of our future bun-fights?”

    “And… oh! There’s trouble brewing in Borrioboola-Gha! fancy sending a peace-keeping force? We’ll have some nice shoulder badges embroidered specially?”

    Now, which of the seven present contenders could not sign up for that? Especially with all the essential bi-lateral visits.

  • Mark McGregor

    Malcolm,

    That Section was specifically designed to remove the British monarch as an organ of the state and resulted in Irelands accepted withdrawal from the ‘British Commonwealth’.

    Surely the following ‘London Declaration’ with it’s clear statement that the Head of the Commonwealth is a ‘symbol’ of the organisation impinges on the functions of the President (Irish) in external relations?

    That’s why I suggest tinkering with the Republic of Ireland Act may be needed if Fine Gael are going to legislate for entry into this organisation.

    (what…they aren’t going to do this? it isn’t on the cards? ever? well why have so many presidential candidates wasted time pontificating on this nonsense?)

  • Greenflag

    @West Brit Watch ,

    ‘We are a distinct race’

    Afraid not . the vast majority of people on both islands are descendants of the people who inhabited these islands prior to the Celtic or Anglo Saxon cultural epochs . While there is some regional variation nowhere does any regional area of Britain and Ireland have a population that comes to more than 30% derived from outside these islands in the period 8,000 BC to the present .

    The only place that could be close might be London which is the most cosmopolitan of all British and Irish cities and always has been going back to Roman times but even there most of London’s present non British or Irish origin population have arrived only in the last 50 or 60 years approx.

    ‘if we’re not bowing to the EU/IMF we’re frolicking with the idea of re-joining the very thing our patriots gave their lives to be free of.’

    Not all of them . Arthur Griffiths favoured a dual monarchy along Austro Hungarian lines and even Dev thought it a mistake to leave the Commonwealth and declare a Republic in 1949 .

    ‘Its time the people of southern Ireland got off their knees ‘

    Well they have .And they have even told the Vatican via their chief elected representative to feck off . The Churches are mostly empty now and the clergy are reduced to a tiny minority of geriatrics ministering to the aged and infirm . They make the COE look like a vibrant hip organisation .

    ‘separate in identity and culture from the Anglo-Saxons.’

    Somewhat but not entirely and anyway who are or who are the anglo saxons or the celts for that matter other than creations of victorian age ‘heroic ‘ mythologies .

    ‘We neither need to re-join this meaningless club’

    True we don’t need to re join this club -whether its meaningless is an issue which I’m sure many of the 100 or so members have addressed and find it to their advantage for reasons of which I’m unaware but there you have it .

    ‘nor do the majority of people want to’

    I would’nt say that . I would say that the majority of people are unaware of any benefits to be gained from such membership and not just economic but there may be some . It’s not good enough any more to just condemn the ‘institution’ itself simply because it was originally a British creation etc etc.

    Playing the Groucho Marx card in refusing to join any club which accepts us as a member may no longer be the appropriate card to play in todays world where Ireland needs all the friends it can get and many of the diaspora are now citizens of commonwealth countries .And even if it’s only a minority of 30 % or so people in the Republic or 50% on the island who would see a benefit in rejoining the Commonwealth then where’s the harm .

    Think of the job opportunities for our senior politicians . The mind boggles at the thought of Dana or McGuinness or even Gay Mitchell or Senator Norris as Secretary General of the Commonwealth?

    heres the info

    http://www.thecommonwealth.org/

  • Greenflag

    error

    ‘Not 100 members but 53 actually or about double the number of members of the EU .

  • Mark McGregor @ 8:50 pm:

    Noted, and absolutely agreed.

    Except: that was then. This is now. There is no “British Commonwealth” — I’m still hoping (see @ 5:23pm) someone can define when the adjective went missing.

    No limitation of sovereignty and in external affairs for either party is possibly involved: in any case such is already defined by the Treaties of Europe. Nor should we fail to recognise that links between the RoI and the UK transcend anything in the Treaties of Europe or of Commonwealth membership: the Belfast Agreement of 1998 and the Comhairle na Breataine-na hÉireann, perchance?

    I have no wish or expectation of seeing Ireland accede to the Commonwealth, even as an associate, this side of hell freezing over (though that has precedents). Yet, we all know that, in practice, the relationship between the DFA and the FCO is and generally has been … at the very least … fraternal. At the moment, it’s probably more congenial and open than that between SW1A 2AA and EH99 1SP.

  • Malcolm @ 10:00 pm – “It was made in London on 28 April 1949, and marked the birth of the modern Commonwealth (of Nations)”

  • John Ó Néill

    Malcolm,
    the Commonwealth [of Nations] officially stopped being the British Commonwealth after 1949 as the 1948 Republic of Ireland Act forced a reconsideration of the basis of membership. Since they didn’t give it any other name it overlooked the fact that that it isn’t the only grouping using the term ‘Commonwealth’ on the planet, so by common usage it is still referred to as the British Commonwealth.

  • Nevin @ 10:38 pm:

    I think that means (after ’49 and through the early ’50s) I was conned each June to walk round the primary school playground waving flags for (explicitly) “Empire Day”.

    Surely there’s a tradition no one would want to revive.

    Now, in return for Nevin‘s explanation, here’s a factoid I’ve been waiting to share, not many know (and fewer care about): “Empire Day” was the invention of the Earl of Meath — one of the few double-jobbers in the House of Lords and the Free State Senate. He’s planted at Christ Church, Delgany, County Wicklow.

  • John Ó Néill @ 10:46 pm:

    Thanks for that. I suspect there could have been a further complication over the name, especially once the Tories returned to power in ’51.

    During the War there had been an active political group, the Common Wealth Party — originally fronted by JB Priestley and Tom Wintringham, with finance from Hulton (owner of Picture Post). CW was way to the Left (e.g. a maximum wage!) and quickly fell apart after 1945 — the ex-Liberal Richard Acland’s Christian Socialist contingent were difficult bed-fellows for the pure lefties like the ex-CP lot.

    I thought it was a dead-and-gone historical curiosity until I came across its formal winding-up in the early ’90s.

  • lamhdearg

    One thing about the Irish, there a cocky lot, i mean are you all sure they would have you’s, has anyone asked?.

  • Into the west

    fascinating subject :

    “India became a republic in 1950 and remained in the Commonwealth. However, Ireland, which was in the same situation, became a republic in 1949, before the declaration, and subsequently left the Commonwealth. Ireland is now eligible to rejoin, though it has not done so.”

    gennjinn
    I agree, keep it as a bargaining chip in a for a future UI

  • lamhdearg

    keep it as a bargaining chip in a for a future U.K.
    Should the Euro collapse. Or are we into chicken and egg.

  • Munsterview

    Mike : “…“It is clear that a substantial part of the Irish nation gives its allegiance to Britain and the British crown, for whatever reasons…”

    Substantial ?

    Even in the context of the whole Thirty-Two Counties, I would have thought that ‘ significant’ would have been a more appropriate term.

    It seems here that the old, long discredited assumption that Southern Protestant equate with Britishness, and equate with Commonwealth is alive and well here. It is sometimes forgotten that Protestants were at the heart of the opposition to the Union and in the Repeal of the Union Movement as well as in the Movement for Irish Independence.

    The first President of the Republic was a Protestant, not selected for tokenism, but because he was a widely respected and fondly regarded figure by all shades of political and cultural opinion in Ireland.

    Incidently in regard to the British People resident in the Twenty-Six Counties, they are here for many reasons and I have met more than a few who are opposed to the Monarchial, Masonic, tiered society system back at home. I have had some experience of the Royal Courts of Injustice and how that system work in Family Law, I tend to agree with them.

    One of the young post grads from Post Colonial studies in the conference I attended across the water some month back described the idea of Commonwealth as like ” an association of rape victims coming together to relive their memories and agree that the rapist was not such a bad sort after all ”

    I sometimes wonder do people here really appreciate how much the outside world has moved on ?

  • Munsterview

    Mike : “…“It is clear that a substantial part of the Irish nation gives its allegiance to Britain and the British crown, for whatever reasons…”

    Substantial ?

    Even in the context of the whole Thirty-Two Counties, I would have thought that ‘ significant’ would have been a more appropriate term.

    It seems here that the old, long discredited assumption that Southern Protestant equate with Britishness, and equate with Commonwealth is alive and well here. It is sometimes forgotten that Protestants were at the heart of the opposition to the Union and in the Repeal of the Union Movement as well as in the Movement for Irish Independence.

    The first President of the Republic was a Protestant, not selected for tokenism, but because he was a widely respected and fondly regarded figure by all shades of political and cultural opinion in Ireland.

    Incidently in regard to the British People resident in the Twenty-Six Counties, they are here for many reasons and I have met more than a few who are opposed to the Monarchial, Masonic, tiered society system back at home. I have had some experience of the Royal Courts of Injustice and how that system work in Family Law, I tend to agree with them.

    One of the young post grads from Post Colonial studies in the conference I attended across the water some month back described the idea of Commonwealth as like ” an association of rape victims coming together to relive their memories and agree that the rapist was not such a bad sort after all ”

    I sometimes wonder do some people expressing ideas here really appreciate how much the outside world has moved on from old ways of thinking ?

  • Roy Walsh

    Never going to happen.

  • USA

    Never going to happen, except perhaps as a bargaining chip to make some unionists more comfortable with an agreed Ireland. Even then the queen of England could not replace the office of President.

  • If we were to forge closer economic, political and cultural ties with India, for example, as fellow members of the Commonwealth, no longer the British Commonwealth, would that be a good thing or a bad thing?

  • Munsterview

    Joe : “….If we were to forge closer economic, political and cultural ties with India, for example, as fellow members of the Commonwealth, no longer the British Commonwealth, would that be a good thing or a bad thing?…..”

    Joe many of these links are in place for culture and business anyway. Five or six years back I was invited to give the funeral oration for a Munster woman you was quite a bit of a character in her day. I was seated with her family and a third generation, most young adults in the twenty to thirty age group.

    The Irish Missionary Movement is by in large, history. I knew that several of these young people and their friends had at various periods, worked abroad in a voluntary capacity but it was only when they came up to talk with the young family members that about twenty-five of those young people present at that small country town funeral had been involved in voluntary work abroad. Some had gone abroad on a number of occasions.

    These people Joe were mainly Third Level qualified people and they gave their services for free. More all their friends, parents, cousins and colleagues through sponsored walks, coffee mornings, special events etc, had raised all money to cover their transport costs to the various third world countries as well as significant contributions to the projects per se.

    As a teenager I help collect in my parish and surrounding parishes for a priest home from Pakistan and on his last trip we collected enough funds for him to build a second level school. The modern ‘building houses in Southern African Shanty Towns. In one group out, Niall Mallon led out 500, over three hundred were women and this group averaged 75 houses a week build for each week they spend out there.

    These linkages are active in other-ways Joe. African studies for example have done more on the English capture and export of Native Irish as slaves than any Irish Institution and as I experienced first hand earlier this year in a weekend seminar at a leading English University, Post Colonial Studies are increasingly interested in Ireland as there is a realization that it all started here and the excessed of Colonial exploitation and despoliation started here in Ireland first with the Planter stock. http://www.rhettaakamatsu.com/irishslaves.htm

    All this previous Missionary activity have not gone to waste, the linkages you advocate are there and in far more realistic grass root exchanges than could be established by ‘Elites’ top level formalized, intergovernmental institutions where ~The UK and the Colonial mentalities are primarily interested in acting as apologists for the Colonial period.

    It must also be borne in mind that another effect of ‘The Troubles’ was to retard Post Colonial Studies in Ireland. The older generation of Historians were locked into the Governments ‘Anti-Provo’ ethos policed by Eoghain Harris and such like, a man you incidently fittingly ended his career as a Senator appointed by Bertie Ahern and an apologist for Bertie and Fianna Fail Corruption!

    We now have a new generation of Historians coming through who have more in common with the new generation of Post Colonial Studies in other Ex-Colonial countries than they have with the Professor John A Murphy ‘ the proves are terrorists’ school of history. These are the new links and whatever of British propaganda, as I found out in my last UK trip, these Post Colonial Studies people regard ‘The Provos’ in the very same light as their own Freedom Fighters.

    Since Britain had to be booted out of almost every Colonial possession by Armed Struggle, these people are well used to having Freedom Fighters portrayed as ‘communists, terrorists’ etc yet like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness et al, it was these very same ‘terrorists’ who became their countries new leaders.

    These are the linkages we need, not some International Association of Old Relics, these Post Colonial Countries equivalents of the Ulster Unionist Party apologist for failed, Colonial regimes.

  • Roy Walsh

    USA, it’s never going to happen because the Unionists have been placated sufficiently already, Arts 2&3 amended to suit their demands, SF and the Irish government supporting the police, the British queen visiting Dublin, joining their empire again would be a little too much for Irish people outside D4

  • Mike the First

    Munsterview

    Read again, I was quoting Gay Mitchell.

    Greenflag

    Surely, though, a nation-state doesn’t have to incorporate in its territory all members (ethnic, citizen or otherwise) of that nation? Serbia is a nation-state that doesn’t include all Serbs, as I would see it, for example.

  • Mike the First

    Progressive Unionist

    “the Canadian model of Commonwealth membership, reflects their own particular historical evolution, and esp the fact that their traditional institutions like the monarchy, flying the Union flag (still flies outside the Ontario parliament, the BC supreme court etc etc) ”

    I saw the Union Flag (the Royal Union Flag) flying outside and indeed inside the Ontario parliament building back in 1995 so was interested by this comment. Particularly for this reason: in recent years having read that the Union Flag is flown on particular days as a symbol of Canada’s Commonwealth membership, and the monarchy, I then assumed it must have been one of those days, until I realised the date didn’t fit. Is it flown there permanently?

  • Mike the First @ 10:07 pm:

    Interesting!

    The Union Flag was the official one until 1965, and, as the “Royal Union Flag” still has some ceremonial uses (Joe Cannuck to help, please), but apparently it appears especially on occasions such as the anniversary of the Statute of Westminster (11th December?).

    Of course, Ontario, Manitoba and BC include the Union Flag (as do unlikely places such as Hawaii) in their provincial flags, — in the same way the Scottish saltire is used in Nova Scotia. Quite what is the status of the … err … somewhat-gay version of the Newfoundland tricolour (“Stripe me pink, and call me Rosie!”) I’d again defer to those with local knowledge.

  • Glad to oblige, Malcolm.
    From Government website:
    The Union Jack will, where physical arrangements allow, be flown along with the National Flag at federal buildings, airports, military bases, and other appropriate establishments within Canada, from sunrise to sunset, on the following occasions annually:

    * the date of the official observance of Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday (Victoria Day, the Monday preceding May 25);
    * the anniversary of the adoption of the Statute of Westminster (December 11); and
    * the date of the official observance of Commonwealth Day (the second Monday in March).

    “Physical arrangements” means the existence of at least two flagpoles. The National Flag will always take precedence and will not be replaced by the Union Jack.

  • joeCanuck @ 11:00 am:

    Thanks for that clarification.

    Does this little exchange point up the psychologies of post-imperial history? That there are some nations which actively encourage the sense of continuity from the colonial past — mainly to prove how far they have subsequently come. There are others which prefer a “year zero” approach.

    Ireland is the curiosity. Dublin is still sold, ambivalently, as both the one-time second capital of the Empire (this the major theme, for the classy and brassy) and then as the rebel city (the minor theme for the diaspora’s other ranks). Which might, in some way, explain how an Gorta Mór and the War of Independence achieved mythic status, now increasingly insecure interpretations as revisionist histories emerge.

    Looking back at the Gay Mitchell quotes (and we have them only in part), I wonder if this is not the area on which to focus.

    Compare and contrast the Declaration of Independence of 1776 with the Proclamation of 1916.

    The former is a bald statement of separateness, of philosophical “liberties”, and a recital of the contemporary complaints against George III and his ministers. 1916 was a pale imitation, and far less lyrical. To me it is an uneasy compromise between Pearse’s vision of an alternative, even hidden Irish history, and Connolly’s Wobbly notions of taking ownership of the land for the people.

    De Valera’s lot then wrapped themselves in the green flag, and announced they alone were the “republican party” and the legatees of 1916. The Free Staters and Fine Gael have, ever since, been struggling to keep up, and reconcile that dual vision with the liberal (and increasingly multi-nationalist) capitalism in which they actually place their trust. I hesitate to imply that FG have ever achieved anything approaching an “ideology”.

    Enter — stage right — Mitchell, who seems to cloud the national issue with ersatz echoes of Conor Cruise O’Brien and similar ne’er-do-wells. Presumably such rodomontades now allow Mitchell (and Hogan and Kehoe) to sharpen invective against McGuinness. Why they need to is a different consideration.

  • Munsterview

    Malcom : “….Ireland is the curiosity. Dublin is still sold, ambivalently, as both the one-time second capital of the Empire (this the major theme, for the classy and brassy) and then as the rebel city (the minor theme for the Diaspora’s other ranks). Which might, in some way, explain how an Gorta Mór and the War of Independence achieved mythic status, now increasingly insecure interpretations as revisionist histories emerge……”

    Back again Malcolm to my constant contention, we do not have a true, poplar historical narrative on this island. Brian Borou who incidently introduced the concept of surnames re-wrote History that made the O’Briens, who had sworded their way to power, central to all that went before although to assuming power the family played a minor role in National politics. Then we had the Norman version of ‘Gerald of Wales’ and Irish women having sex with dogs etc’

    So sectarian and ant-Natives were the Normans that Irish were excluded from the main religious orders as ‘Sub-Human’ ( think Germany and Jews) and while Most Native Norman families changed, the English Norman families held that attitude to the Irish down through Tudor times when Liz put the same bounty on a Poet and Harpers head as she did a wolf.

    When we come to the Cromwellian period, the narrative regarding the Native Irish is derived mainly from the Ulster Native Irish Massacre of the Planters. Appalling and inexcusable as that act was, the claims of the survivors were inflated with regard to the wanton cruelties as these accounts were ‘insurance claims’ of their day. These already inflated accounts were then ‘sexed up’ by the Pale Establishment and administration to show that the English foothold in Ireland was in dire peril. When these doubly inflated claims reached London, various Protestant Puritan polemics again compounded the Massacre accounts until hundreds killed became thousands massacred. This Narrative was never seriously disputer by latter English Historians.

    The Willimite 1690 Narrative, while building on the previous distortions added it’s own layer of myths. Most Northern Protestants still believe that it was Anti-Popery despite the fact that the Pope of the day was allied to William and anti-James, that this Pope send a core of ‘ Italian Battle Drummers to the Boyne and a considerable amount of Gold to help William in his war against the Irish and James. When Williams victory became known the Pope designated a day when all the church-bells throughout Western Christendom were rung in celebration and another where a Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving for William’s victory was offered in all the Western principle churches.

    Recently I gave the figures for the Act Of Union, while the enfranchised voters represented a minority on this Island, 40% of the Protestant ascendancy were opposed to the Union. Add in the then disenfranchised Presbyterians and the overwhelming Protestant population in Ireland was totally opposed to the Union. Then add in the Mass of the Catholic population and the Pro-Union sentiment on this Island was under 20%. The Union was passed by bribery and corruption and the greatest insult a Southern Protestant could throw if appropriate was to refer to someone as coming from ‘Union Peers’

    If we do not have a real narrative for the Historical periods mentioned, it is unlikely that we will get one for the late 19th, and 20th, century. The ‘Troubled’ got media saturated coverage and the main facts of the ’69 to 2000 are a matter of record yet there is basic disagreement as to the character of what happened. British Securicats world wide have correctly described the conflict as an Insurrection and their engagement as Counter Insurgency Action. Behind closed doors they lecture on how they fought and contained a War.

    British Politicians during the Conflict and since have portrayed what was happening as crime and armed gangs etc. The Southern Political Establishment bought into and used State Media and Academic resources to propagate the Official British position as it paralleled Irish Political and Establishment vested interests.

    This is in fact the real bite between Fine Gael and Sinn Fein in this Presidential Election, If McGuiness wins the Sinn Fein narrative of the past forty years is the one that will be centre stage. That is why there is also a ‘ Gentleman’s Agreement’ between the Sticks and Blue Shirts to let Mitchell and FG do the ‘Boot Boy’ against McGuiness and in the last week Mitchell who never had a prayer anyway, will call for ‘second preferences’ for Michael D who will just act Presidential and remain aloof from the FG / SF rows and spats.

    Malcolm as to your “…Ireland is the curiosity. Dublin is still sold, ambivalently, as both the one-time second capital of the Empire…” there is no ambivalence, just an absence of true historical narrative where the splendor of Georgian Ireland and the squalid squalor of White Irish Slavery by Ascendancy Planter stock is integrated side by side with the suppression and rise of the dispossessed Irish.

    We now have a new generation of Nationally and indeed Internationally recognized historians such as Ruan O’Donnell, UL, O’Driscoll UCC and Diarmaid Ferriter UCD etc, who propagate, real, non polemic history for their various periods, unlike a previous generation of Historians who were an embedded part of the Establishment and Colonial legacy mind set who took where we were at any given period in the last forty years and then cut the feet of history to fit the Establishment shoes.

    Much of this new Narrative will come from Post Colonial Studies outside of Ireland and ironically UK Universities like Leeds that were Apologist for Imperialism during it’s reign, are now leading the charge in Post Imperial Studies.

    Any examination of for example, Slavery as part of British Imperialism do not start in the Plains of Africa, it must start in the Hills Of Munster with the first twelve thousand war widows and their female children ( the young males were in the main just killed) who were rounded up and shipped to the West Indies and other English Colonies as ‘comfort women’, domestic and field slaves. As with so much else in the excesses of Imperialism, Ireland was the laboratory and the starting point.

    In recent years I have sat in at more than my share of History seminars and I have seen how the system works from the inside. It will take a few years yet for the new Influential Historians on these Islands to become the Dominant Historians and when they do we can expect a massive re-write of History.

  • analyser

    Eamon O’Cuiv Deputy Leader of Fianna Fail has suggested that the Republic should rejoin the Commonwealth. He is grandson of Eamon De Valera. Amazingly you made no reference to that. 40% of Catholics in the North would vote in a REFERENDUM to join a united Ireland. They know what side their bread is buttered on. A united Ireland is a dead duck thanks to the Provisional IRA. It was the FG Party which was in power when the Sunningdale Treaty and the Anglo Irish Agreement came into effect. The Anglo Irish Agreement smashed the Unionist veto. The agreement which was finally accepted was Sunningdale for slow learners as Gay Mitchell has frequently pointed out . Gay Mitchell was a staunch supporter of Sunningdale. 3,000 people died in Northern Ireland. For what?
    Gay Mitchell has been viciously attacked online for two months by Sinn Fein supporters. The attacks have been ugly and personalised even extending to his cousin. The behaviour of these Sinn Fein supporters has been a disgrace. It is the dirtiest and most personalised coordinated attack that I have ever seen online. I have wide experience not alone of Irish politics but also US politics. In addition he has been targeted by other elements because he is pro life. Apparently it is almost a crime to declare that you are a Catholic in the Republic now.
    The Sinn Fein strategy was to use the footsoldiers to demonise Mitchell online. Sinn Fein politicians will of course steer clear of this.

  • Greenflag

    @ Mike the first ,

    ‘Surely, though, a nation-state doesn’t have to incorporate in its territory all members (ethnic, citizen or otherwise) of that nation?’

    True i.e doesn’t have to. Historically most ‘nation states ‘if not all who don’t include all of their ‘nation ‘ within the states’ borders is usually as a result defeat in war or some negotiation or trade off or some geographic considerations such as widely ‘dispersed ‘ populations an example being the Volga Germans or Romanian Germans compared to the Sudetenland Germans .

    ‘ Serbia is a nation-state that doesn’t include all Serbs, as I would see it, for example.’

    Probably one of the worst examples you could have picked unless you want to use it as a stand on your head British Irish comparison . I’ll use your example to enhance my point such as it is.

    Note the bracketed countries .

    Serbia (Britain ) claimed that Kosovo(Ireland) was Serbian and had no right to independence since as far back as the 14th century Kosovo (Ireland )was part of Serbia (Britain)

    Fast forward 600 years and lots of internecine Balkan wars and Kosovo gains it’s independence . Serbia still maintains that Kosovo is ‘Serbian ‘ even though 90% of the Kosovan population are not Serbs and don’t speak Serbian . Meanwhile the 10% of Kosovans who are of Serbian ethnicity and who straggle the border territory between the two countries don’t want to be Kosovans which is probably understandable since in historically very recent times a Serbian leader now deceased was preparing to commit mass genocide against the Kosovans in order to make Kosovo -Serbia again .

    Imagine the state of British Irish relations today if an Oliver Cromwell had been let loose on Ireland in say the mid 1980’s ?

    The British Union helped to resolve the ancient antagonisms of the islands various nations which is what the EU is also supposed to do .And it’s in the latter context that problems like the Serbs and Hungarians and others have will have to be resolved.imo.

  • Munsterview

    analyser :”…The Sinn Fein strategy was to use the footsoldiers to demonise Mitchell online. Sinn Fein politicians will of course steer clear of this…..”

    Wrong, totally wrong.

    Since coming on to this site and while not tarring FG with the same brush, collectively I have always been in attack mode re the blueshirts. I am afraid that the reverse in that particular gearbox never worked. Sinn Fein do not have to be primed to attack, it is a natural state for us around FG especially the Mitchell, Dublin 4 variety.

    May I also add that the feeling is mutual and we would not have it any other way and Republicans will yet see them where Fianna Failed are now.

    As to the Sinn Fein elected representatives, they also cannot wait for the scrap in their local areas when the opportunity presents, like mine, it is in the their political DNA.

  • analyser

    There is no political party called the Blueshirts. Incidentally the Blueshirts killed nobody in Ireland. The Provisional IRA murdered 1700 Irish people including FG Senator Billy Fox and seven guards in the Republic. There is still the issue of the disappeared.

    Provisional Sinn Fein is hated by the majority of people in the Republic, as you will soon find out.
    Incidentally Gay Mitchell does not come from Dublin 4. Mitchell was born in Inchicore a working class area. You obviously know very little about Dublin. Mitchell’s mother, Eileen, was left a widow with nine children whom she supported by working as an office cleaner. He was educated at St. Michael’s Congregation of Christian Brothers, Emmet Road Vocational School, Dublin Institute of Technology, College of Commerce, and Queen’s University Belfast. Mitchell was always a democrat. He never believed in the “armalite in one hand and the ballot box in the other” strategy.

    Re next GENERAL Election: Provisional Sinn Fein will not alone face the government parties but a revitalised FF which is putting in place plans to take on Provisional Sinn Sinn Fein will also be squeezed on the left by the ULA. Don’t count your chickens.
    Finally the Provisional IRA killed campaign killed all prospects for Irish unity.
    Sinn Fein is the party of cuts in the North. It opposes the very same cuts in the South. Provisional Sinn Fein was always strong on hypocrisy and inconsistency.

  • Rory Carr

    “Finally the Provisional IRA…campaign killed all prospects for Irish unity.”

    This coming at the end of a defence of the party that sold the country into division in order that it could get on with exploiting the part they could control for their own ends is a bit rich to say the least.

    It matters not that Gay Mitchell may have sprung from struggling honest poverty what matters is whose side he is on now. Whose side has he ever been on politically? And the answer to that is clear – he supports those who never cleaned their own house never mind those of others . Those who take it as a birthright that there will always lower down the social scale to do for them, to serve them

    Well now they have done for the lot of us. Mitchell may not come from Dublin 4 but he most certainly now is of Dublin 4. That is his natural territory, That is where his soul lies and it is not among the cleaners and roadsweepers who only visit to serve the needs of those who dwell there and who go unnoticed except for chastisement, those who are called upon by the likes of Mitchell and his cronies to bear the brunt od any sacrifice to be made while they recover their riches.

    Of course Mitchell is not a Republican, of course he would never have dreamed of serving in the IRA, that would have required a willingness to give one’s all in the service of others. That most certainly is not the Fine Gael way..

  • analyser

    The Provisional IRA tried the bomb and the bullet in an effort to bring about Irish unity. The Provos failed to bring about a united Ireland And don’t forget they were better armed than the Old IRA. By 1921 the Old IRA was hanging on and running out of guns and ammunition. This was confirmed to me by many old IRA men who told me that they would have been defeated if the war continued much longer.

    Re the Treaty: The people of the Republic voted democratically to ACCEPT the Treaty. Even De Valera who opposed the Treaty realised that unity was not possible by force. You could not force 1 million Protestants into a united Ireland AGAINST THEIR WILL.
    Only mad men would try it. De Valera fought against the Treaty on the issue of the oath.
    You are now propping up Stormont having promised NEVER to enter it. You failed to bring about a united Ireland. IRA violence has cost the South billions in lost tourist revenue and security costs.
    Provisional Sinn Fein is involved in expenditure cutting in Northern Ireland whilst in the South it is opposing the exact same cuts. It has not offered one WORKABLE solution in the Dail.
    The new FG/Labour government has taken over a country which is almost bankrupt. FF signed the country up to the IMF/EU bail out. When your hand is in the dog’s mouth you draw it easy. The new government is walking on eggshells. Sinn Fein has no coherent economic policy. Its policy is a mishmash of populist nonsense -which basically boils down to default- and political opportunism. It specialises in a type of voodoo economics from the security of the opposition benches.
    If the republic defaulted UNILATERALLY as suggested by Sinn Fein the ECB has warned that it would immediately pull out the 180 billion Euro it has ploughed into Irish banks. The banks would immediately close and all deposits would be lost. It would mean that our budget deficit of 19 billion euro would have to be closed immediately as nobody would loan us money to run the country. That would result in immediate cuts of 19 billion euro.
    The new FG/Labour government has inherited an appalling mess. No fear though that Sinn Fein will ever come up with something constructive.

  • Brian

    ‘sold the country into division’ = very dishonest appraisal of what happened

    The country was divided by the British. There was nothing anyone in Ireland could have done about that until the 6 counties themselves wanted to rejoin Ireland.

    It took some people longer than others to figure this out.

  • Eddie (Eamonn) Mac Bhloscaidh

    “The people of the Republic voted democratically to ACCEPT the Treaty”

    Revisionism gone a bit mad there!

  • Eddie (Eamonn) Mac Bhloscaidh

    “6 counties themselves wanted to rejoin Ireland”

    Wow, history, geography contorted, changed to fit a political need.

  • sonofstrongbow

    “serving in the IRA……….willingness to give one’s all in the service of others.” If it wasn’t for the innocent dead, maimed and injured that statement would be laugh out loud funny.

    Although it’s stomach-churning stuff and one needs to take a second and even a third look to confirm you actually saw what you think you saw there is a positive angle. So long as such warped delusions exist the possibility of uniting the people of Ireland (as Hume was wont to say) is as dead as the legion of “others” ‘served’ at the end of an Irish Republican command wire.

  • Brian

    {“6 counties themselves wanted to rejoin Ireland”

    Wow, history, geography contorted, changed to fit a political need.}

    You may be a little confused, Ed. We are not talking geography on this thread, we are talking soverign political entities.

    And what history did I get wrong in my short post.

  • analyser

    1922 election just prior to the civil war:
    Out of a valid poll of 620,283 votes, the pro-Treaty part of the Sinn Féin party won 239,193 votes and their anti-Treaty rivals secured 133,864 votes. The other parties and independents all supported the Treaty and secured a further 247,226 votes. The pro-Treaty parties had secured support from over 75%
    No revisionism there: Just the facts.

  • JR

    The revisionism comes from the fact that the border had not been finalised at that point. As I understand it the treaty campign was run on the understanding that the border would be drawn democratically, that Newry and Derry and two counties which had already voted not to be in the North would be allowed to be in the South.

    The selling out element comes from the fact that when they came under pressure from unionist business men and land owners the southern government settled on the current border in exchange for forgivness of their part of the British National debt. £5,000,000 per year at that time.

  • Brian

    Unknown to the Irish Treaty negotiators, Lloyd George and company had promised the Unionists that there would be no significant changes to the border unless they approved of it.

    As for the selling out part, if Mick Collins was still alive and calling the shots I think he would not have been very willing to let the Boundary Commission settle like it did.

  • Munsterview

    Rory : “…Well now they have done for the lot of us. Mitchell may not come from Dublin 4 but he most certainly now is of Dublin 4. That is his natural territory, That is where his soul lies and it is not among the cleaners and roadsweepers who only visit to serve the needs of those who dwell there and who go unnoticed except for chastisement, those who are called upon by the likes of Mitchell and his cronies to bear the brunt od any sacrifice to be made while they recover their riches….”

    That is my contention in a nutshell. Before the eighties recession when things were going well for me in my engineering business when I went to get in to my Mercs 280 in a certain city, I realized that another was parked next to it and the man about to get in was a prominent business man who I long knew and also a member of the Fianna Fail National exectuive.

    Both of us then then put business on hold for forty five minutes of political discussion across the roofs of our respective cars. When we finished he said…… ” you know we are f*** in your home area, now that you have done the Provo bit and proven your credentials why not come to X cumman meeting in a two weeks time, I need a man on the Dail Ceanntair and I will back you in two years time at the selection convention. With your xxxxx history, you are pushing an open door.”

    My reply was ” For f*** sake X I was a Socialist before I could afford to be one and I am hardly like to change now that I can afford it ! ”

    That was not the only meeting about that particular issue with the same man either and my final refusal also included a hansome garaunteed State grant that would have set me up for life.

    Nothing special about me in that, I have met hundreds of Republican business men and women over the years that shrugged off the establishment bribe as easly as they did the State Special Branch Boot to their bodies and business!

    Mitchell had the same choice, his cousin at least had the guts to go out and openly take what he considered his share of the unequally distributed National Cake, Mitchell squirelled and schemed away in positions where the gravey train just kept delivering to him big time while he in turn dilevered just what?

    What obvious legacy did Mitchell leave Dublin from his prominant year in Local Politics ?

    As to Fine Gael, in East Cork Young Shinners and C of I at that have come from FG backgrounds. When organising or on Republican Business in a certain area, I always stayed with a Fine Gael family where the Gradfather had been one of the Real McCoy Blue Shirt and a top ranking man in his day.

    Politically he had mellowed but we were still poles apart. However he understood the nuts and bolts of organization and we spoke the same landguage in that regard. Martin McGuiness will get many a Fine Gael vote in Munster before they will vote for Mitchell or Michael D.

    There is the same disgruntled head of steam building up against ‘Big Phil’ and co as came from the Fianna Failed grass roots against the ‘Lenihan and the Bertie boys’ One has already said to me, ” I may or may not vote, I have seen nothing yet to get excited about, but I am telling you one thing, if I am presuriesd to vote yer man is getting it, I am sick of them”

    FG is a strange beast but there are some very decent people in it, and let no body be in any doubt, quite a lot of people also who are sound on the National Question. I would not be one bit surprized at all to see that FG have a black hole on polling day when the tallies are added and Sinn Fein will have a few pleasant surprises.

    Politics aside who in Fine Gael wants to vote for a party candidate that everyone knows was only the third or fourth preferred choice of candidate?

    Mitchell put himself before the party and he is already seen as having cost the party the election. A lot of FG on the ground will not be one bit impressed with either Mitchell or ‘The Back Room’ who snatched a resounding defeat defeat from the jaws of victory and may very well say ‘ a plague on both your houses’