“the British Government, and the British State, no longer claim jurisdiction over this part of the island”

So claimed Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey, MLA, in his recent appearance on UTV Live.  Here’s the quote again.

The fundamental difference between before the Good Friday Agreement and after the Good Friday Agreement is that the British Government, and the British State, no longer claim jurisdiction over this part of the island.  That’s very very important, and that’s a very important building block for us to convince those who, at this moment in time, don’t support the idea of a united Ireland that it is in their best interests. [added emphasis]

Of course, he was, and is, fundamentally wrong.  And here’s another illustration of that fact.  The Londonderry Sentinel reports that NI Environment Minister, the SDLP’s Alex Attwood, has written to the Irish Government about the protected waterway status of Lough Foyle.  From the Sentinel report

“The UK Government signed the Ramsar Convention in 1973 and ratified it in 1976. Each Contracting Party to the Convention is required to designate wetlands in accordance with criteria agreed by these parties for inclusion in a list of ‘Wetlands of International Importance,’” he explained.

“Lough Foyle, situated on the north coast of Northern Ireland, is a large shallow sea lough which contains extensive intertidal areas of mudflats and sandflats.

“It is an internationally important coastal site for wintering waders and wildfowl. Because of its international importance Lough Foyle was designated as a Ramsar Site in February 1999,” he added.

Mr Attwood said the Ramsar site includes the whole of Lough Foyle Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and the intertidal area of Magilligan ASSI in Lough Foyle.

He said the protected boundary conforms exactly with the Lough Foyle Special Protection Area.

It also overlaps with the Magilligan Special Area of Conservation.

However, part of the waterway is still not protected.

“The part of Lough Foyle which falls within the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland has not been designated as a Ramsar site. I have written to the Dublin Minister to ascertain his view on the matter,” Mr Attwood explained.

The report also notes that this particular border dispute has been cited before, when Project Kelvin was being discussed.  Here’s an updated link for the Hansard record mentioned then – deputy chair of that Assembly Committee, now NI junior Minister, Sinn Féin’s Jennifer McCann.

And a quote, again in the Sentinel report, from a spokeswoman for the UK Government in 2009

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) underlined its view at the time that all of Lough Foyle was British and that was not negotiable.

A spokeswoman told the Sentinel then: “The UK position is that the whole of Lough Foyle is within the UK. We recognise that the Irish Government does not accept this position.

“There are no negotiations currently in progress on this issue. The regulation of activities in the Lough is now the responsibility of the Loughs Agency, a cross-border body established under the Belfast Agreement of 1988.”

As the then Irish Government Minister of State for Education and Science, Conor Lenihan, said in a Seanad debate at the time

I reiterate to the Senator that there has never been any formal agreement between Ireland and the United Kingdom on the delimitation of a territorial water boundary between the two states. In the context of the Good Friday Agreement, a decision was taken to co-operate on foreshore and other issues that arise in the management of the lough from conservation and other points of view. [added emphasis]

One of the issues is that the median channel in Carlingford is the navigation channel whereas, as the Deputy knows, living as close as she does to the lough, the navigation channel in Lough Foyle hugs the southern side, which makes it rather more difficult to manage or to negotiate an agreement as to where the territorial waters actually lie. There is no agreement between the two Governments on where the boundary lies, which is a problem that has bedevilled the situation for some time.

There has been some progress since then, the December 2011 “Memorandum of Understanding reached by the two Governments with the support of the Northern Ireland Executive… on marine jurisdictional issues.” [added emphasis].  Here’s an illustrative map from the memorandum – depicting the agreed line between Northern Ireland and Ireland at Lough Foyle.

Agreed line between Northern Ireland and Ireland at Lough Foyle

And, in January last year, in a written answer the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, TD, informed Dáil Éireann that.

In international law the sovereignty of a coastal state extends beyond its land territory to the adjacent band of water and to the seabed and subsoil beneath it. A coastal state exercises jurisdiction within that area. The extent of that jurisdiction will depend, amongst other things, on any boundaries that may have been agreed with a neighbouring state. There is currently no agreed maritime boundary within Lough Foyle.

The question of property rights to the seabed is a separate issue, regulated by domestic law. In this jurisdiction, with some small exceptions, the seabed adjacent to the coast belongs to the State and is currently vested in the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform under the State Property Acts. In the UK ownership of the foreshore is vested in a number of bodies, including the Crown Estate in Northern Ireland. [added emphasis]

Uncertainty concerning the extent to which each side exercises jurisdiction within Lough Foyle, and the separate but related issue of property rights, have created practical difficulties for the conduct of a number of activities there. This has included difficulty in creating a system for the licensing of aquaculture by the Loughs Agency in accordance with the intentions of the Irish and British Governments under the 1999 Agreement establishing Implementation Bodies. Discussions between relevant Departments and agencies on both sides of the border on specific issues have been taking place on a case by case basis.

Recently the two Governments agreed to address issues relating to both Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough in the round. A first meeting of officials took place last week in London. While the issues involved – including the roles of the Crown Estate and all other relevant actors – are complex I am satisfied that both sides are committed to resolving them as soon as possible.

As far as I know, the issue within the loughs remains unresolved.

Interestingly, in his weekend Ard Fheis speech, the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, TD, deployed a slightly different line to that of Alex Maskey.  As Alan noted, Gerry Adams claimed

…Sinn Féin secured the removal of the Government of Ireland Act, under which the British government claimed sovereignty over the North.

Up to a point, Lord Copper… [added link]  You can read the original Government of Ireland Act 1920 here, including the provisions on the “Power To Establish A Parliament For The Whole Of Ireland“.

The Government of Ireland Act 1920 was, of course, repealed by the Northern Ireland Act 1998.  The first provision of which reads

It is hereby declared that Northern Ireland in its entirety remains part of the United Kingdom and shall not cease to be so without the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland voting in a poll held for the purposes of this section in accordance with Schedule 1. [added emphasis]

Which, as I mentioned previously, is precisely where Scotland, another constituent part of the United Kingdom, currently finds itself – without a Good Friday Agreement, or a 30 year campaign of violence.

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  • Comrade Stalin

    FDM,

    Clearly trying to have a sensible discussion with you is a waste of time.

  • DC

    one of your better comments, Comrade.

  • FDM

    Red Lion

    “Maybe the Basil and John party can fill this void and give a new type of pro-NI/UK person proper representation”

    I don’t think the John and Basil party will cut it. APNI I would see as the natural home for someone who wishes to retain the economic link to the UK for the time being without taking on board ANY of the baggage associated with the word “unionist” and its tawdry past and present.

    @westprog

    “Sinn Fein … way more extreme than … BNP.”

    You can be coloured and be a member of SF. You can be a muslim and be a Sinn Fein member. You can be protestant and be a member of Sinn Fein. You can an immigrant Pole and be a member of Sinn Fein. You can be asian and be a member of Sinn Fein. You can be a jedi and be a member of Sinn Fein. You can be a woman and have a good chance of being selected as a candidate for election in SF. You can be gay and be a member of Sinn Fein. You can respect a womans right to have control over her own body and be a member of SF. One can be a member of Sinn Fein and not have to accept outdated gender roles that sexists would force upon society. You can believe in dinosaurs and be a member of Sinn Fein. You can believe the earth is more than 6,000 years old and be a member of Sinn Fein. You can believe that Ireland doesn’t have be a economic basket case for the rest of time and beholden to Essex builders and London city shysters and be a member of Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein has been committed to purely democratic politics for nearly 20 years. Whereas the Afrian National Congress, the ruling party in South Africa was only removed from the US Terrorist watchlist in 2008. Sinn Fein never made that objective list.

    If you have eyes to see you will observe the clear blue Irish sea of water between Sinn Fein and the current policies of the BNP and DUP you will see a world of difference. Sling all the mud you like but the facts speak for themselves.

    Addressing the wider point from the original post then and your clear hostility to Sinn Fein. How much comfort does it give you when you realise that the maintenance of the border will actually guarantee that Sinn Fein will be in power in this region for the forseeable future? They will be in the dominant position in the very near future. The border effectively locks you in with your monsters, rather than keeping them out.

    But hey thats democracy. You are welcome.

  • westprog

    “No we will want a sustained period of nationalist led politics in the North to correct the place. You know move the cushions around, add some new furniture, make our home comfortable. Then once we are happy with the corrections we can think about joining with the Republic to move forward collectively and positively.”

    Moving forward? Well, that sounds good. Especially moving forward positively.

    Meanwhile – who can say NI isn’t working when there are this many millionaire golfers: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-21345997 . I think we can all be glad about that.

    Meanwhile, if the plan is _not_ to join with the Republic right now, but in another one of Sinn Fein’s rosy futures – why campaign for a referendum?

  • westprog

    What makes Sinn Fein more extreme than the BNP?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Travers_(murder_victim)

    When the BNP employ someone as a senior advisor as a reward for murdering a young woman, then I’ll consider them as extreme as SF. As it is, for all their vile policies and shady dealings, that’s a step too far for them.

  • westprog

    “Maybe the Basil and John party can fill this void and give a new type of pro-NI/UK person proper representation”

    It’s a sad feature of NI politics that when everyone came around to agreeing with that one party, and totally rejecting the policies of Sinn Fein and the DUP, they decided that as a reward for the prodigal sons, they should get to run the province.

    Sadly the only non-sectarian party in NI, who were right about everything, have been and probably will be rejected. It’s a shame but unlikely to change now.

  • FDM

    @westprog

    “Meanwhile, if the plan is _not_ to join with the Republic RIGHT NOW, but in another one of Sinn Fein’s rosy futures – why campaign for a referendum?”

    You answered your own question, as identified in capitals.

    Will a dominant SF governance future be better or worse than an all-island solution?

  • FDM

    @westprog

    “When the BNP employ someone as a senior advisor as a reward for murdering a young woman, then I’ll consider them as extreme as SF. As it is, for all their vile policies and shady dealings, that’s a step too far for them.”

    Actually the adviser you mention didn’t murder anyone.

    The Queen gave Colonel Derek Wilford, the commanding officer of the group of British soldiers who murdered 14 unarmed British citizens on what they considered to be British streets, an OBE for his services. The soldiers, their commanding officer and all the state services involved then took part in an obscene cover-up to ensure that they all escaped the justice, whilst besmirching the reputations of those that were murdered.

    So we won’t be taking any lectures on vile behaviour from you today westprog, when the organisations you laud are corrupt all the way up to and including the head of state.

  • westprog

    “Will a dominant SF governance future be better or worse than an all-island solution?”

    If the people of Northern Ireland want an SF government, they can have one. If they want a single unionist party, they can have that. If they want to join in a united Ireland, they can have that. That’s what the Republican movement was fighting against all those years, and what they’ve now grudgingly accepted.

    If I had my choice, I would pick a very different administration at Stormont, but it’s up to the Northern Ireland electorate, not me.

  • Comrade Stalin

    westprog:

    When the BNP employ someone as a senior advisor as a reward for murdering a young woman, then I’ll consider them as extreme as SF. As it is, for all their vile policies and shady dealings, that’s a step too far for them.

    The DUP appointed a guy as First Minister who many people regard responsible for actually causing the entire troubles.

    I can’t tell you whether SF’s policies are vile or not to be honest as I can never get any detail on what they actually are (beyond Gerry Adams mumbling something through his beard about “citizens”). But I really don’t think they plan the racial deportations or purges that we’d see under the BNP. Ireland under what was then Sinn Féin control in 1923 wasn’t a picnic, but it wasn’t a fascist state.

  • westprog

    “The DUP appointed a guy as First Minister who many people regard responsible for actually causing the entire troubles.”

    I regard the DUP as possibly the only entirely insane party in the British Isles. One has to go to the extremes of US politics to find an equivalent.

  • FDM

    @westprog

    “That’s what the Republican movement was fighting against all those years, and what they’ve now grudgingly accepted.”

    Well there was an opportunity in 1974 to reach an agreement that bears similarities to what we have today. It was not Sinn Fein that rejected it. The PUL population [pretty much all of it] rejected it by shutting the country down. They refused to share power. The results of “what happened next” can therefore not all be laid at the door of republicans. Demonstrably so. Had “unionism” been a postive enlightened creed instead of a sectarian protestant British nationalism then we would not have been in the mess in the first place. They did have half a century of unfettered control to get it right and managed to perfect segregation, sectarianism and religious intolerance on a state wide basis. Yet we are to believe that those without the power to make changes are responsible? Backside.

    “If they want a single unionist party, they can have that.”

    I actually would strongly welcome a single “unionist” block party for many reasons. The main reason being that hopefully it would finally hit home to the PUL community that the jig was up and that they simply aren’t a majority community anymore. Maybe at that point we might see some real world politics coming from that quarter rather than re-hashing Basil Brookes speeches.

    Even on here very few from the intelligencia from the “unionist” corner seem to be able to offer any view on how they are going to deal with a SF led government and a future of nationalist dominated politics within a decade.

    All we hear is denial, outright lies, fanciful wishing the situation away [Rory McIlroy on his white charger to the rescue] and evasion from the glib to the fantastic. Which doesn’t bode well for any of us. I have read comments on here within the last month ranging from threatening war upon the state by the PUL community, to self-murder if faced with such a scenario. Do the numbers yourself. The data is lying all around. See if you come to any different conclusions and evidence how I am wrong in my assessment.

  • Reader

    FDM: Well there was an opportunity in 1974 to reach an agreement that bears similarities to what we have today. It was not Sinn Fein that rejected it.
    Republicanism as a whole, including SF and the IRA, rejected the Sunningdale agreement. Difficult to tell whether they opposed power sharing more or less than they opposed direct rule – they kept on killing while the Assembly was running.
    That may be why an IRA ceasefire was a precondition for the talks leading to the GFA. Lessons learned by the slow learners, perhaps.

  • FDM

    @Reader

    “Republicanism as a whole, including SF and the IRA, rejected the Sunningdale agreement.”

    I don’t disagree with what you said. I just should have phrased my response more accurately. I think the generally accepted view is that the PUL community torpedoed Sunningdale because they refused to share power at that time.

    You mention a backdrop of violence [including internment without trial] at the time. Had there been political progress then perhaps many of the deaths could have been avoided.

  • westprog

    “Republicanism as a whole, including SF and the IRA, rejected the Sunningdale agreement. Difficult to tell whether they opposed power sharing more or less than they opposed direct rule – they kept on killing while the Assembly was running.
    That may be why an IRA ceasefire was a precondition for the talks leading to the GFA. Lessons learned by the slow learners, perhaps.”

    It may well be that the direct cause of the failure of Sunningdale was the unwillingness of Unionists to share power, but the IRA armed campaign had a huge influence, which should not be underestimated. Had the republican movement – and the nationalist community – supported Sunningdale, and assured unionism that there would be no change in the status of Northern Ireland without uncoerced majority consent, then we might have had a resolution much earlier. But perhaps not – Unionism was not ready for an internal solution that gave equal status to all citizens at that stage, and nationalism (not only republicans) were convinced that history would sooner or later inevitably create a united Ireland somehow. British politicians felt unable to give explicit guarantees to the Unionists, for fear of the kind of uproar provoked by the “Out, out, out” speech.

    However, it’s not possible for a movement that was formed to oppose any kind of internal solution to Northern Ireland to blame other people for not doing enough to work towards it. Republicans were very clear and explicit in stating that acceptance of any political deal short of a unitary state was not only wrong, but treason, and punishable. Paleo-republicans continue to say the same thing.

    The lesson of Sunningdale was that agreement had to be between all parties, that political violence was permanently off the table, and that no change in the status of Northern Ireland would happen unless the people of Northern Ireland agreed. That it took so long to get to that point is a massive tragedy.

  • westprog

    “You mention a backdrop of violence [including internment without trial] at the time. Had there been political progress then perhaps many of the deaths could have been avoided.”

    Political progress was impossible because of the violence, and a ceasefire was impossible because of the lack of political progress. Stuck in a pointless cycle for thirty years.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Back in 1974 the idea of sharing power with republicans wasn’t even under any kind of serious consideration. At that time, the republicans still (genuinely) believed that they could win their armed struggle. They didn’t snap out of this until the early 1980s.

    Actually powersharing wasn’t being accepted by republicans in any fashion until 1998. When the ceasefires were called in 1994 all they could do was insist on all-party talks, but they clearly had no idea of what they could reasonably expect to demand at them. Following some initial “exploratory talks” with Mayhew in 1994/95 they were sort of carried along by the current through to 1998 when they adopted the Agreement, which had very little of their input (being crafted mostly by the SDLP and UUP) but which they knew politically they had to get behind.

    Westprog:

    Political progress was impossible because of the violence, and a ceasefire was impossible because of the lack of political progress. Stuck in a pointless cycle for thirty years.

    The violence absolutely did not help, but I’m not sure that agreement would have been possible even if there had been solid ceasefires. Unionism had 50 mostly peaceful years to build agreement and consensus; instead it chose to surreptitiously erect a quasi-apartheid state. And when there wasn’t an IRA to blame, unionism had to connive with the UVF to get them to fake it.

    Sunningdale failed not because of the violence but because unionists couldn’t tolerate having fenians in government. Some of them still don’t. The only reason why we have an Agreement and powersharing is because the British finally began arranging the game to make participation the only way they could hold on to what they have.

    Still, this is all history and should really play no active role in current affairs here. There are no excuses for powersharing to fail.

  • Starviking

    Unionism had 50 mostly peaceful years to build agreement and consensus; instead it chose to surreptitiously erect a quasi-apartheid state.

    Something that the Catholic Church supported with it’s quasi-apartheid education system.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Indeed.

  • westprog

    “The violence absolutely did not help, but I’m not sure that agreement would have been possible even if there had been solid ceasefires. Unionism had 50 mostly peaceful years to build agreement and consensus; instead it chose to surreptitiously erect a quasi-apartheid state. And when there wasn’t an IRA to blame, unionism had to connive with the UVF to get them to fake it.

    Sunningdale failed not because of the violence but because unionists couldn’t tolerate having fenians in government. Some of them still don’t. The only reason why we have an Agreement and powersharing is because the British finally began arranging the game to make participation the only way they could hold on to what they have.”

    That’s true enough – but what is often missed is that peaceful political activism _was_ successful. More was achieved by the civil rights movement than was ever won by republicanism.

    The people who didn’t want an agreed power-sharing Northern Ireland don’t often get classified as allies – or at least they didn’t until Paisley and McGuinness started laughing in our faces. However, their interests were the same. Republicanism didn’t want an assimilated Catholic minority in Northern Ireland. Neither did Loyalism. They set up a war to prevent it happening.

    The way forward was to put the question of unity on one side – something to be freely decided, without coercion, by a vote of the people of Northern Ireland only. Accomodation was prevented by keeping the question of unity as central as possible, and thus preventing agreement.

  • westprog

    “The old Orange-Green, British-Irish dichotomy no longer adequately sums up the myriad of shades of identity here. Unionists, as much as nationalists, need to come to terms with the changing environment.”

    Didn’t expect that statement to come from that source, but it’s true all the same.

  • Comrade Stalin

    westprog, that is an interesting perspective. The IRA in 1969 were people who were itching for conflict. They weren’t interested in trying to solve things in any other way and it suited them perfectly that the unionists chose to reject O’Neill (who “got it” unfortunately five years too late).

    You correctly point out that most of the current underpinnings which allow the republicans to claim that the IRA “achieved equality” were in fact delivered by O’Neill – housing reform, tough measures banning employment discrimination, etc etc.

  • westprog

    Comrade –

    that’s the bizarre part of the history of NI. The peaceful protests by Catholics demanding civil rights were remarkably successful. The armed struggle was remarkably unsuccessful, finishing with the SF strategy of declaring victory and giving up.

    We never know the what-ifs of history. What we can say is that the IRA campaign made Unionist obstructionism easier. I can remember the sympathy engendered in the UK by the sight of marchers being beaten by the RUC in 1969. It took hard work to dissolve that sympathy and make the plight of the Northern minority something that nobody cared to think about.

  • FDM

    @Comrade Stalin & westprog

    “The IRA in 1969 were people who were itching for conflict. They weren’t interested in trying to solve things in any other way and it suited them perfectly that the unionists chose to reject O’Neill (who “got it” unfortunately five years too late).”

    What a load of codswallop!

    If the IRA were itching for a fight in 1969 then how come that they had bugger all to fight with? Surely people who wish to engage in a conflict usually have weapons to fight the conflict with? Surely you prepare for conflict by arming for it?

    Hence why were loyalists able to burn large parts of Ardoyne to the ground and Bombay street, Kashmir Road and Cupar street in August 1969? They were able to do it because there were NO WEAPONS to rebuff the incursions into these areas. They were criticised heavily by their own communities for NOT being able to defend them from attack.

    No weapons means no planning, means no preparation, means no mens rea to carry out a war.

    People turned to armed resistence because a) the state was failing to protect its citizens b) the state was killing its citizens c) it was running paramilitary organisations to kill its citizens d) was providing state immunity from the law to its armed forces and e) was providing state legal protection to the paramilitaries it was running. When a state embarks on this path it loses all legitimacy to govern.

    Hence people turned to physical force to protect their own people. The right to self defence of oneself, ones family and ones group is a human right. If in doubt check out some of the constitutional elements of the USofA.

    “What we can say is that the IRA campaign made Unionist obstructionism easier.”

    So much so that many of the intelligence services and the paramilitary organisations they were running orchestrated attacks so that they could be blamed on the IRA. All of which is part of the accepted narrative now.

    Given your comments bear no semblance to reality, can I ask are your contributions to be the content of a new fantasy novel you two guys are concocting?

  • Reader

    FDM: Hence people turned to physical force to protect their own people. The right to self defence of oneself, ones family and ones group is a human right.
    That might account for the short and unhappy existence of the CCDCs. But it doesn’t account for the IRA, who were perfectly specific about their objectives before and after the troubles, and before and after the split. Neither does it account for their tactics.

  • Reader

    FDM: So much so that many of the intelligence services and the paramilitary organisations they were running orchestrated attacks so that they could be blamed on the IRA. All of which is part of the accepted narrative now.
    Do you mean the bomb attacks on the utilities in the very early days of the troubles? If not, then what? – please be specific.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FDM,

    Once again you are having trouble with the nuances.

    The group of IRA leadership figures who became known as the Provisional IRA (technically, “the IRA”) were itching for a conflict. Events, such as the loyalist pogroms you refer to, and others such as Bloody Sunday, played right into their hands and pushed people into their ranks.

  • FDM

    @Comrade Stalin

    “Once again you are having trouble with the nuances.”

    Whilst you continue with the gross dropping of horse shit.

    When Hitler went to war in Europe he had built up his armed forces for the invasion, so that he may overpower his enemy. Clever eh? When Japan attacked the US they actually built all those aircraft carriers, Zero figthers, torpedoes, dive bombs etc…

    Please can you give me an example of a war campaign that lasted more than 5 minutes where the offensive team didn’t “tool-up” before kick-off? I am all eyes and ears on this one.

    “The group of IRA leadership figures who became known as the Provisional IRA (technically, “the IRA”) were itching for a conflict.”

    So they were itching to “have-a-go” at the British army, probably the most effecive pound-for-pound army in the world, and they didn’t have the sense to like stockpile weapons? You know guns, explosives, bullets???

    What were they going to use, harsh language? bows and arrows?

    Even if your estimation of the official and provisional leaderships is poor you can’t seriously expect us to believe that they had no sense to source weapons? You know like to kinda “shoot back” and all that. You know mount a campaign?

    Horseshit, pardon my French. That is what you are selling and it deserves that florid description because of the complete baselessness of your comments. A big steaming pile of stinking horse dung. Even a person with the meanest intellect can see that you don’t engage in a conflict it you don’t have the means to fight it. The evidence of the significant and repeated unchecked pogroms visited upon Catholic communities at that time evidences, what I know to be the case anyway, that THERE WERE NO WEAPONS in 1969. NO WEAPONS = NO WAR. The fact that there were no weapons means that there was no planning for a campaign. They sure as hell didn’t seem to have a problem getting the weapons when they did want them.

    When loyalists did attack Ardoyne for instance on July 12th 1987, the IRA opened fire with the weapons they DID HAVE and repulsed the attack. One of those who transgressed the ill-named peace wall to attack the Ardoyne community was killed in the process. The rest fled back through the fence they had broken down. This demonstrates the clear juxtaposition between what happened in 1969 when an unarmed community were attacked [when a good 10% of Ardoyne was put to flame] and in 1987 when they attacked the same population which had taken measures to prevent further pogroms.

    “Events, such as the loyalist pogroms you refer to, and others such as Bloody Sunday, played right into their hands and pushed people into their ranks.”

    Well you don’t say? Now that is news. You mean when the government starts murdering the population some of the living population will actually try to fight back or even defend themselves? Well bugger me. You are top to tail filled with wisdom and the learning of the ages aren’t you?

  • FDM

    @Reader

    “Do you mean the bomb attacks on the utilities in the very early days of the troubles? If not, then what? – please be specific.”

    The year we were focussed upon was 1969. The UVF carried out a series of bombing of utilities with the attempt to blame these on the IRA and destabilise the O’Neill government, which it did. On of the organisations that assisted in that campaign had links to the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, which was founded by that opposer of violence and true democrat Ian Paisley.

    It wasn’t the first time or the last time the state blamed British intelligence murders or their paramilitaries killings on the IRA. Seamus Ludlow 76′. McGurks bar 71′ etc…

    “But it doesn’t account for the IRA, who were perfectly specific about their objectives before and after the troubles, and before and after the split. Neither does it account for their tactics.”

    The IRA in early 1969 were an old boys club. Powerless and toothless. I have stated above what changed that and who changed that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    TL;DR.

  • westprog

    In order to understand what happened in Northern Ireland it’s critical to follow the chronology. It’s impossible to establish cause and effect without knowing the order of events, and the intervals between them. Luckily the CAIN website provides an objective resource that doesn’t twist the truth in order to serve an agenda. The simplest way to follow the conflict is to look at http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/sutton/chron/index.html – the list of deaths. We see who died, who killed them, and the circumstances. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron.htm gives the chronology of major events.

    If we look at 1969, for example, we find that the RUC were out of control. The victims of RUC violence included a nine-year-old boy and a soldier on leave. There were regular attacks on Catholic areas – largely defended by ad hoc groups rather than the IRA. Loyalists opposed to reform did indeed plant bombs – realising that the best way to block civil rights was to have an active IRA. Lacking that – because the IRA in 1969 was indeed moribund, confused and ill-equipped – they tried to make an IRA of their own.

    The attacks on Catholic areas and the escalating violence – mass violence of a different kind to subsequent years – led to the deployment of British troops in Northern Ireland. Following the deaths of several Loyalist rioters in conflict with troops, a level of calm was established. However, the IRA was regrouping and splitting into the left-wing Officials and nationalistic Provisionals.The extent to which the split was facilitated by right-wing Fianna Fail politicians remains obscure.

    The presence of the army became itself a cause of violence, with arms searches in summer 1970 leading to a loss of goodwill, and the deaths of a number of catholics. The IRA were starting to become active, but were confining their attacks to the RUC. No soldiers were killed by IRA attacks.

    Following the summer riots, the only Catholics who died in 1970 from July on were killed by the IRA, in accidental explosions or assassinations. That is not to say that peace was established – simply that defence of Catholics from attack could not be the primary function of the IRA.

    Conflicts between the Army and Catholics continued, and relations continued to sour. Meanwhile, the IRA was establishing local hegemony, using punishment beatings and kneecappings.

    Finally, in February 1971, the IRA commenced the war, with the killing of the first British soldier. Any claim that this was a defensive measure can be clearly seen to be invalid – no Catholic had been killed by anyone except Republicans for five months. It was obvious to anyone that initiating gunfights with the British Army on the streets of Derry and Belfast would make life vastly worse for the people living there. So it proved.

    The aims of the IRA were not to defend their areas. They were never able to do that effectively. Their war aims were as stated – to drive the British presence out of Ireland. They were never remotely ambivalent about that.

    The claim that was made – that the IRA was looking for a war – is clearly born out by the actual facts. From their formation at the beginning of 1970, the Provisionals had a strategy of escalation culminating in a full-on conflict with the British Army in 1971 which was quite independent of other events. Their actions were not designed to protect their communities, but to endanger and control them.

  • westprog

    “The IRA in early 1969 were an old boys club. Powerless and toothless. I have stated above what changed that and who changed that.”

    Unionist intransigence and violence certainly served to recruit for the IRA. However, they did not passively react. Cathal Goulding had a Marxist, revolutionary agenda for the IRA, which caused considerable disquiet among his fellow republicans. Much of the Southern support for the Provisionals stemmed from fear of Goulding’s critique of Irish society.

    The Republican movement were not swept helplessly along with the tide of history. They reacted to the unexpected events of 1969 with a coherent agenda of their own, which they began to implement as soon as they could assemble the means.

  • FDM

    @westprog

    “Finally, in February 1971, the IRA commenced the war”

    You had to drift two years from 1969 to get the IRA into a conflict that you and Comrade Stalin then laid at their door.

    Shouldn’t you be laying all those bodies at somebody elses feet, i.e. the people who had the power in 1920,1930,1940,1950,1960 and the critical 1965-1971 years?

    “Unionism” had 50+ years of unfettered rule to build a Utopia here for all of us and they constructed a half-way house between a concentration camp and a torture chamber. When the inmates eventually reacted those in power resorted to even more punitive measures to enforce their authority. This caused a violent and unpredictable reaction, whose effects we are still dealing with to this day. The troubles in a paragraph.

  • Morpheus

    @FDM

    Yoink, I am having that.

  • Barnshee

    “Unionism” had 50+ years of unfettered rule to build a Utopia here for all of us and they constructed a half-way house between a concentration camp and a torture chamber. When the inmates eventually reacted those in power resorted to even more punitive measures to enforce their authority. This caused a violent and unpredictable reaction, whose effects we are still dealing with to this day. The troubles in a paragraph” LOL

    With now nearly 50 years of “non unionist” rule on the horizon and the same messages of victim hood bleating from Derry ,West Belfast etc who are you going to blame now?

  • FDM

    @Barnshee

    “With now nearly 50 years of “non unionist” rule on the horizon and the same messages of victim hood bleating from Derry ,West Belfast etc who are you going to blame now?”

    When we have 50 years of nationalist led politics we can compare and contrast. We won’t repeat the sins of the “unionist” past.

  • westprog

    “You had to drift two years from 1969 to get the IRA into a conflict that you and Comrade Stalin then laid at their door.”

    And I explained why, in detail, the claim that the Provos were looking for a war was in essence correct. When they decided the time was right to kill soldiers, catholics weren’t dying – or rather, they were, but only at the hands of Republicans.

    What happened subsequently was a massive deterioration in quality of life for all the people of Northern Ireland, but especially Catholics, and especially the poorest Catholics. The IRA was unable to protect them from sectarian violence, or from the security forces – and it killed many of them itself. It was not defending the Catholic minority. It didn’t get workers intimidated out of the shipyards their jobs back. It didn’t stop the Shankill Butchers. It didn’t stop Bloody Sunday. It helped to bring about all those things. It explicitly opposed all possible political accommodation for a generation.

    If Northern Ireland was really a concentration camp and a torture chamber, then it remained so. The IRA just added a war zone to the mix.

    It remains important to keep pointing this out. The IRA were not in the business of defending Catholics from attack. Deaths of Catholics were directly proportional to the level of IRA activity. The IRA were not in the business of achieving civil rights for Catholics. They were explicitly opposed to any kind of political settlement that did not involve full British withdrawal and a United Ireland, federal or otherwise.

    Would there have been a war if the Provisional IRA hadn’t been created to bring one about? Possibly. However, it’s clear that the conflict that did come about was driven by the actions of the IRA, and it stopped when they got tired of it.

  • westprog

    “This caused a violent and unpredictable reaction”.

    Part of the blame shifting process is to regard one set of people as having control and the others as simply reacting to circumstances. Thus the IRA had no option but to act as they did, but the British and the Unionists had a range of choices.

    This is not how things work. The Unionists have to take responsibility for the state they created, and the British for letting them do it. The IRA have to take responsibility for the war they decided to keep going for a quarter century, and for the consequences of that war. The conflict was only inevitable because people – actual human beings – made decisions to bring it about.

  • Reader

    FDM; you said the following, “So much so that many of the intelligence services and the paramilitary organisations they were running orchestrated attacks so that they could be blamed on the IRA.”
    When I asked for clarification, you came up with: “The year we were focussed upon was 1969. The UVF carried out a series of bombing of utilities with the attempt to blame these on the IRA and destabilise the O’Neill government, which it did. On of the organisations that assisted in that campaign had links to the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, which was founded by that opposer of violence and true democrat Ian Paisley.”
    What you need to do to back up your case is to say which “intelligence services” were running the UVF in 1969. This is a bleak topic, we could do with a laugh.

  • FDM

    @Reader

    “What you need to do to back up your case is to say which “intelligence services” were running the UVF in 1969.”

    I only have to do that if I said it, which I didn’t. Take your straw to a fools door.

  • FDM

    @westprog

    “And I explained why, in detail, the claim that the Provos were looking for a war was in essence correct.”

    No you offered your perspective. I am still waiting for an explanation as to how an organisation that wanted war, or so you insist, didn’t actually have weapons in place to fight a war. Which is unsupported in any military campaign that I am aware of ever. The reason that it has never happened is because it doesn’t make any sense.

    “What happened subsequently was a massive deterioration in quality of life for all the people of Northern Ireland, but especially Catholics, and especially the poorest Catholics.”

    When Churchill decided to persist with war against the Nazis this led to a massive deterioration in the quality of life of people in London, Coventry, Belfast etc… Hitler had Ribbentrop offer Britain a way out of the war. Churchill decided that a peace was only to be found AFTER a war with the Nazis. Many British civilians died as a consequence of this decision. So much so that there is film footage of Churchill being heckled by Eastenders as he came to inspect the aftermath of a bombing raid. This was not an isolated event in England in 1941 and 1942.

    “The IRA was unable to protect them from sectarian violence or from the security forces”

    “The IRA were not in the business of defending Catholics from attack.”

    And yet I already provided an example in 1987 where they did exactly that.

    “It didn’t stop the Shankill Butchers. It didn’t stop Bloody Sunday. IT HELPED BRING ABOUT ALL THOSE THINGS.”

    To allocate the blame for what the Shankill Butchers did to ANYONE else is disgusting. I offer you the opportunity to withdraw that comment. The Shankill Butchers were responsible for what they did, not the Catholics that they cut to pieces nor the IRA.

    “It remains important to keep pointing this out.”

    To your ego defence of course it is. If you have to face the truth it might pain you.

    “Deaths of Catholics were directly proportional to the level of IRA activity.”

    So the IRA were at war with the Catholic population? Wullie Frazer will not like that narrative.

    “They were explicitly opposed to any kind of political settlement that did not involve full British withdrawal and a United Ireland, federal or otherwise.”

    Who was intrinsically involved in the peace agreement in 1998?

    “Would there have been a war if the Provisional IRA hadn’t been created to bring one about?”

    “The conflict that did come about was driven by the actions of the IRA”

    Bollocks.

    Again you lay the war at the door of the IRA. The same IRA who had no weapons in 1969 and 1970 when the cemeteries were already stoked with fresh bodies.

    Lie to yourself all you want but for goodness sake don’t waste my time.

    If your ego needs to fixate on a skewed perspective of history and reality, then for goodness sake write it in a personal diary. I have no time for your fabrications and falsities.

    Be sure to withdraw your laying of the blame for the Shankill Butchers serial killing at someone elses door. Good grief.

  • westprog

    If I blame the IRA for the Shankill Butchers, I’ll be clear about it – as I’ve been throughout. I didn’t say that the IRA were to blame for the Shankill Butchers. I said that they did nothing to prevent them.

    Obviously the people who increased the level of violence in Northern Ireland helped to bring about a situation where violence was more likely. I find that Republicans find it easy to see how the killing of innocent civilians on Bloody Sunday perpetuated the situation, but don’t see how Bloody Friday did the same.

    That the deaths of Catholics were proportional to IRA activity might well be a truth unpalatable to many people. It remains a truth.

    That the IRA and Sinn Fein decided in 1998 that an internal settlement was possible doesn’t mean that in 1997 they said that. Republican rhetoric was very clear indeed that any internal settlement was treasonous. Look for a statement by any member of the Provisional movement previous to the commencement of negotiations that it might be possible to re-open Stormont, or return to Sunningdale. Look in vain.

  • Pete Baker

    A reminder of where we started from

    The fundamental difference between before the Good Friday Agreement and after the Good Friday Agreement is that the British Government, and the British State, no longer claim jurisdiction over this part of the island. That’s very very important, and that’s a very important building block for us to convince those who, at this moment in time, don’t support the idea of a united Ireland that it is in their best interests. [added emphasis]

  • Alias

    On first reading, you’re forced to conclude that Maskey is completely thick. On second reading, you realise that he is smart enough to know that his party’s supporters are completely thick.

    Now that the Shinners have revised history to present their past role as militant civil/human rights activists, the folks who’d normally be running around cheering on human rights violations by the Shinners are now running around cheering on every crackpot issue that the Shinners latch onto as part of their new ‘human rights activists’ image from abortion to gay marriage. Monkey see, monkey do.

    If the Shinners told them that Her Majesty should be the head of the Irish state as a gesture of parity of esteem they all be running around demanding poor Michael D take early retirement…

    Maskey treats his party’s supporters with the contempt they’ve earned.

  • Reader

    FDM: I only have to do that if I said it, which I didn’t. Take your straw to a fools door.
    I thought you were giving an example to back up your statement: “So much so that many of the intelligence services and the paramilitary organisations they were running orchestrated attacks so that they could be blamed on the IRA.”
    You weren’t. I suppose it was a red herring. Now, how about giving an example please: Which Intelligence Service; which Paramilitary Organisation; which bomb? It should be easy because you also said: “All of which is part of the accepted narrative now.”

  • westprog

    “On first reading, you’re forced to conclude that Maskey is completely thick. On second reading, you realise that he is smart enough to know that his party’s supporters are completely thick.”

    It’s not that either of them are thick. It’s just that they’re using language in a different way. If the UK still has jurisdiction over Northern Ireland, that means that the Republicans – and nationalism generally – lost. That’s not a pleasant way to think about things. So language is used in a different way. Everybody who votes Sinn Fein knows that the UK has full jurisdiction over Northern Ireland, but saying that they don’t is a way to have a victory and feel good. Politicians who try to make people feel good tend to do better. A Sinn Fein politician who said “The armed struggle was a complete waste of time – we could have had what we have now twenty years earlier – and I bitterly regret everything we did,” wouldn’t get many votes.

  • westprog

    I’d like to deal with the issue of blame and responsibility. FDM said:

    “Shouldn’t you be laying all those bodies at somebody elses feet, i.e. the people who had the power in 1920,1930,1940,1950,1960 and the critical 1965-1971 years?”

    Well, he has a point. Then he says

    “Be sure to withdraw your laying of the blame for the Shankill Butchers serial killing at someone elses door. Good grief.”

    It’s not surprising, since this is pretty much the standard Republican view. The actions of the IRA should be blamed on the people in power. The actions of the Loyalists should also be blamed on the people in power. The IRA can’t be blamed for anything – neither what they did, or actions carried out in response to what they did.

    This is a fairly blatant double standard. If a Republican does something appalling, we simply backtrack through history until we find a Unionist to blame. If security forces do something appalling, then we just blame them. This is so ingrained in Republican thinking now that it’s almost automatic.

    The people responsible for an act are the people who carry it out. The British Army and State have to take responsibility for Bloody Sunday. The Loyalists have to take responsibility for sectarian murders. The IRA are responsible for the people they killed.

    This does not mean that the people who create the situation in which these things happen can be excused. The sectarian state of Northern Ireland is not an excuse for IRA murders, but it has to be considered in part responsible, in that it helped to create the circumstances in which they could happen. Similarly the rhetoric of supposedly anti-violence Irish politicians helped to inspire a feeling of justification for Republican violence.

    Most importantly, every violent act helped to create a situation in which violence seemed like a reasonable response. If it’s right to insist that the killing by the Army of thirteen unarmed Catholic civilians on the streets of Derry on 30th January, 1972, led to the deaths of hundreds, then it’s right to point out that the killing of two policemen in Derry on 27th January, 1972, contributed as well.

    If we look at the list of deaths in Northern Ireland since the start of the troubles, it’s fairly clear who the biggest contributor was. Even if every loyalist killing is tied to collusion, the IRA did more killings than anyone else.

  • westprog

    “Now that the Shinners have revised history to present their past role as militant civil/human rights activists, the folks who’d normally be running around cheering on human rights violations by the Shinners”

    You’d think that actually killing women might detract from the image of a feminist movement.

  • Barnshee

    “When we have 50 years of nationalist led politics we can compare and contrast. We won’t repeat the sins of the “unionist” past.”

    The runes so far are not good. I predict without fear of error that after any amount of “nationalist led politics” (look next door for what 100 years approx created) the same whinging population will exist in exactly the same places.

  • babyface finlayson

    westprog
    “The people responsible for an act are the people who carry it out. The British Army and State have to take responsibility for Bloody Sunday. The Loyalists have to take responsibility for sectarian murders. The IRA are responsible for the people they killed.”
    Well said. I think it is fine to try and understand why things happened and say
    ‘government policy was a factor’ or
    such and such loyalist/republican act led to such and such retaliation’ but those who decide to pick up a gun and kill others must primarily take responsibility for such acts themselves.
    They could always have put it down and walked away.

  • westprog

    ” I think it is fine to try and understand why things happened and say
    ‘government policy was a factor’ or
    such and such loyalist/republican act led to such and such retaliation’ but those who decide to pick up a gun and kill others must primarily take responsibility for such acts themselves.
    They could always have put it down and walked away.”

    Indeed. The current Republican leadership has a stance of deploring the terrible things that happen in a war, but even if one accepts such a characterisation, it’s clear that the people who wanted the war and kept it going were primarily the IRA. Vile as the loyalist killers were, they weren’t able to maintain a campaign in the absence of IRA activities. The war ended when the IRA stopped.

    It’s not suprising that this is the case. The Unionists, the loyalists and the British had an aim to keep things as they were. The IRA wanted to change things. When the IRA stopped trying to change things with violence, the violence ended.*

    *For the most part. I recognise that splinter groups still exist.

  • tacapall

    “it’s clear that the people who wanted the war and kept it going were primarily the IRA. Vile as the loyalist killers were, they weren’t able to maintain a campaign in the absence of IRA activities. The war ended when the IRA stopped”

    Thats a wee bit being economical with the truth, the truth is loyalists have never needed republicans to strike first before they reacted, thats an old John Taylor response to loyalist violence, loyalists have murdered dozens of people since the PIRA called a ceasefire, maybe you forgot that.

  • westprog

    ” loyalists have murdered dozens of people since the PIRA called a ceasefire, maybe you forgot that.”

    Yes, that’s hardly surprising. It was never probable that Loyalists would immediately cease operations just because the IRA had a ceasefire. The IRA had a lot of ceasefires. What did happen was that when the IRA ceased shooting people, gradually everybody stopped shooting people.

    Naturally, with sectarianism deeply embedded into everyday life, individual violent acts will continue. The war, however, is over, and that is because the IRA stopped. If the IRA hadn’t stopped, the war would have continued regardless of what the Loyalists did.

    I’ve already stated why this is. The Loyalists don’t need to fight to keep Northern Ireland in British jurisdiction, because it already is. The only people who need to fight are those trying to _remove_ Northern Ireland from British jurisdiction. If they stop, then the war stops.

  • westprog

    (Of course, if the price of peace was that the Republican movement had to pretend that Britain no longer had jurisdiction over Northern Ireland, while the British and Unionists knew that it did, that was a small price to pay).

  • tacapall

    “Naturally, with sectarianism deeply embedded into everyday life, individual violent acts will continue. The war, however, is over, and that is because the IRA stopped. If the IRA hadn’t stopped, the war would have continued regardless of what the Loyalists did.”

    Apart from the fact that loyalists have had many ceasefires also,

    So you are agreeing with this man –

    “We should make it clear that force means death and fighting, and whoever gets in our way, whether Republicans or those sent by the British government, there would be killings,”

    John Taylor UUP, Tobermore, October 1972

    Works a treat for loyalists and your analysis even though loyalist were responsible for the first murders during the 60s when there was no PIRA.

  • ayeYerMa

    “Unionism had 50 mostly peaceful years to build agreement and consensus”.

    Dream on Comrade and stop writing fantasy history as if you had attended some sort of Republican propaganda camp. Those years most certainly:
    1. Were not peaceful given the constant militant threat of various IRA factions and the Dublin government.
    2. The fact is that the olive leaf was offered generously by Craig in the early Stormont regime, but you can’t “build agreement and consensus” with people who point blank refuse to cooperate and participate. The fact that Republicans had been treated so leniently is probably why we are in the mess we are.

  • westprog

    “loyalist were responsible for the first murders during the 60s when there was no PIRA.”

    “Those years most certainly were not peaceful given the constant militant threat of various IRA factions”

    There’s really no point in playing the who-started-it game. It’s always possible to go back a decade, or a century, and find someone else to blame, or some atrocity that’s at the root of it all.

    What counts is who kept things going. It’s clear enough, looking at who was killed, by whom, where the responsibility lies. It’s certainly not entirely with any one group of people. However, the people most responsible were the people carrying out most violence.

  • westprog

    “Apart from the fact that loyalists have had many ceasefires also,”

    Yes, loyalists were also guilty of that particular sin.

    It’s fairly well known that Unionists were prepared to fight if coerced into accepting a United Ireland. The Loyalist groups considered that they were fighting against the establishment of a United Ireland.

    The loyalists, using this as a pretext, carried out many sectarian acts, from murder to driving people out of jobs and housing. To what extent this would have gone on, were the threat of coercion into a United Ireland removed (as it has been) we don’t know. It is unlikely that the fear of a United Ireland made the Loyalists behave better.

  • Comrade Stalin

    ayeYerMa,

    Interesting. You seem to be conceding that the NI state was built on discrimination and inequality, and you justify this on the basis that it was under threat.

  • Comrade Stalin

    And of course we know what unionists mean when they use terms such as “olive leaf” and “consensus”. They both mean “give us everything we want or we’re not playing”.

  • FDM

    I have written about 10 paragraphs in response to this nonsense of which I have deleted 10 paragraphs.

    In order to be positive I must say that CS continues to be the most interesting contributor on here though I am still searching to find a single thing to agree with him about.

    I guess slugger works on some levels.

    Night JohnBoy.

  • westprog

    FDM – did those ten paragraphs have anything about the difference between laying blame at feet and laying blame at doors?