Cardinal Dolan compares Islamic State to the IRA

The Newsletter is reporting the comments of Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York.

The Cardinal said:

“Remember 30, 35, 40 years ago with the IRA in Ireland? The IRA claimed to be Catholic, ok? And they were baptised; they had a Catholic identity. What they were doing was a perversion of everything the church stood for.”

Watch the interview below and let us know your views in the comments.

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  • Desmond Mckinley

    I don’t intend to be argumentative, but was the Darkley murder’s not down too the INLA?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear, MU,” is killing ten people the same as killing one?”

    Well, yes, actually. Ten people only die collectivly on paper. The actual experience of someone killed in the interests of any cause is private and individual for the person experiencing it. It is the same experience, one, ten, six million in the real tactile, personal sense, and the horror of the holocaust is not a thing of numbers but the dehumanising injustice experienced by each individual who actually died. This is the true benchmark of the horror, as it was here too.

    And while you may say “Pollyanna-ish” about my rejection of justification claims for either side’s violence, as you say elsewhere “You can’t get away from making moral and ethical judgments”, which must always centre on how an individual experience effects a broader community.

    There are many forms of brutality, and though you did not personally experience the numerious forms, both gross and subitle, that marked the repression and abuse of the Catholic community by both the electing majority and “their” government in the 1960s, the Catholic community certainly did. Your ignoring of Unionist culpability certainly makes it much easier to build up a case of an innocent democratic state assailed by evil men, but the complex web of history, and of cause and effect that marked the decent into violence is what anyone really wanting anything to change anything here for the better must honestly face up to. Simplifying it and justifying the inceptive state and private Unionist violence that laid the foundation for the situation may be re-assuring for those wanting to write up one side’s innocense, but it is only possible at the expense of justifying one side of an equasion of violence that in turn will be used in mirror form to justify counter violence. Yes, I hold firm to my position that here, given the complexities of our history and the actual moral torpitude of government at Stormont, all violence was wrong.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, I’m not ignoring motive. As I’ve said below I see the motive as self interest on both sides. And to pose another very important question for anyone wishing to cliam the moral high ground for either side, do you think that PIRA would have been able to sell their bombing campaign to the world as an acceptable act of war if a percedent had not been set in the 1940s by the British Carpet bombing of German civilian populations in gross controvention of every agreement they had subscribed to at the Hague twenty years earlier?

    In this the Britsih government themselves were implicated in creating the climate of justified violence which we suffered under for so long, and all from what they claimed was ifrom the best possible motives, just as the “terrorists” would also claim in their turn. Nothing may be taken in isolation, everything is incorporated into a bricolage of many acts and historical memories. It is only possible to singly demonise any one party where inconvenient parts of this complex bricolage are whitewashed over.
    So yes, the violence in both situations described have a strong family resembelance. And morally justifying acts of terrorism in war by any state may in turn be used by anyone claiming that they are fighting a war. Simply because you would wish one side to win does not justify their using immoral maens to win, as the old Fenian John O’Leary told W,B. Yeats, “There are certain things no gentlemen should be willing to do even for his country.”

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think it’s clear I haven’t avoided unionist culpability, I have repeatedly acknowledged it. My point though is that it was not of such a nature as to justify or require in any way such an extremely violent reaction, if reaction it was (which I also doubt, given violent nationalism’s pre-dating the formation of NI by about 60 years). They were bombing London in the 1860s …

    I think I have been very clear and I hope even-handed – I have condemned the wrongs wherever they were. I am in no way standing u for any of the wrongs of the Stormont period. But that does not require me to buy into the bogus use of Stormont era wrongs as some kind of explanation for armed force Republicanism. Living under an inadequate government does not give you the right to take the law into your own hands and certainly not to go around murdering people. You seem to accept this but still seem reluctant to call SF on their bogus attempts to excuse IRA violence using the more modest wrongs of Stormont. Not getting a job is bad, but compared to having your head blown off, it barely registers I’m afraid. The “cure” was several hundred times worse than the disease – it was like treating the flu with arsenic.

    Bottom line is, the SDLP option was available, most nationalists took that, so why didn’t the Republican Movement? They didn’t because they saw an opportunity to force people into the Republican plan – and the rest of us paid for it in blood.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    On the ANC, I’m just saying they do themselves a disservice if they fall into SF’s trap. The ANC is better than that.

    It can be tempting to take one movement with moral force behind it and seek to find its equivalents left, right and centre in other situations, but the differences between South Africa and Northern Ireland are pretty bleeding obvious. Even Republican analysts of NI have admitted NI was no South Africa; not even a US Bible Belt situation. It may not have felt mild to those affected, but it really was a relatively modest, in global terms, issue of structural inter-ethnic inequalities exacerbated by discriminatory behaviour, as NI too slowly emerged from early-mid 20th attitudes, in what sad to say had become a bit of a provincial backwater. NI Catholics were the least well off group of people in the UK; the 2nd least well off were NI Protestants. Let’s get this in perspective. The Republic suffered from a very similar small-minded, un-modern mentality. The whole island – and much of the British Isles – needed a social and political shake-up at that time. What they didn’t need was shooting and bombing.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Living under an inadequate government does not give you the right to take the law into your own hands”, indeed, but it does make it incumbent on any decent person to work to make an oppressive and indifferent (“inadequate” is just too neutral a word for anyone who was aware of those experiencing the effect of widespread general discrimination in everyday life). And acting to change the situation through peaceful means is exactly what NICRA were quite properly doing. I’ve made it perfectly clear in previous exchanges that I abhor PIRA violence, which was, as Napoleon’s minister of police, Fouché, said of the murder of the young Royalist leader the Duc d’Enghien “C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute”.

    But the point I’m making is that PIRA would not have been in a position to attract any kind of following if the Unionist had supported O’Neill and reform. They did not, and their inability to accept the crying need for change offered both world sympathy and even considerable credibility amongst the British public to their enemies. I am not excusing PIRA’s violence in any way, and I’m certainly not claiming that Unionist attitudes justified violence, but the treatment of a minority with no possible means of redress through the ballot box (until demographics shifted the population balance) ensured that some action must be taken. The old Unionist mentality rejected peaceful means when they grossly overreacted through gratuitous violence to NICRA and the PD. This, as I’ve said above, opened the way for a genuinely violent opponent to enter the stage. It does not excuse but it does explain.

    I’m confused about your invocation of the SDLP. Surely they remained the principal expression of constitutional nationalist sentiment until SF was invited to the table in the new dispensation? They were available, and throughout the period of violence most non Unionists supported them in elections.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Or perhaps we might actually begin to think how to develop a form of governance that can act justly to all its citizens and utterly discredit violence across the entire community.

    People turn to violence for a reason, conscious or unconscious, political or from personal motives that may be psychological in origin. If the things that they are stimulated by are not addressed, killing the perpetrators will be an exercise in futility, a simplistic cutting one head of a Hydra to encourage the growth on many more. Violence does not ever solve things, it simply delays the expression of dissent, requiring it to be addressed again and again with further violence.

  • carl marks

    well personally I think its a bit arrogant of you both to tell the ANC what should be thinking.
    And I don’t think that anybody ever claimed that this was a south Africa or a bible belt, what we have said is that their are comparisons which (your words) should be bloody obvious.
    Of course your “it could have been worse” i imagine as been used by those justifying both south Africa and the bible belt.
    let us indeed get this into perspective,
    nationalist population was discriminated against in jobs, housing and infrastructure,
    This discrimination was organised and very wide spread,
    add to this the willingness of the state and loyalists to use violence to oppose any change.
    Peaceful protester’s were attacked by loyalists .

    Now anybody standing outside this looking(ANC maybe) might not see things your way, most (the vast majority) of historians would think your views were amusing, the truly funny thing I you come from a community who if they don’t get walking down a road or the flag flying arrangements don’t suit are willing to bring violence to the streets.
    your rewriting of history is getting old,
    but I do love your “we treated you like second class Sh*t but you should have put up with it” argument, I wonder how many Afrikaans or whites in the bible belt have used that one.

  • alexbr

    The victims of British bullets didnt suffer any less terror than the victims of IRA bullets.
    The only difference between ‘terrorists’ and non ‘terrorists’ depends on who makes the law.

  • carl marks

    I have answered your points in detail and as of yet apart from regular straw men and a refusal to recognise the actual history of NI, and your refusal to admit unionist culpability in the events that led to 3500 dead, you have failed to deal with my answers.

  • alexbr

    You are ignoring motive Seaan.
    Why do governments murder innocent men, women and children? Why do they go out of their way to murder them in grotesque ways?
    And why do the oppressed try and stop them?

  • alexbr

    Did victims of British bullets feel less terror than IRA bullets?

    “They are self appointed judge jury and executioners who murder and terrorise society for some supposed political gain.”

    A fair description of British rule in Ireland.

  • alexbr

    They did, they defined it as the enemy, who used the force of terror to partition our country.

  • carl marks

    “these ills did not demand the toxic medicine the Dr Deaths of Republicanism prescribed.
    great line, in one melodramatic phrase you dismiss all unionist evils, Cause and effect mean nothing, It is recognised by most reasonable people, that a society that has discrimmation built into it is heading for trouble, the pattern followed around the world was copied here,
    people protested against it,
    they are attacked by those supporting it ( which has the might of the state behind it).
    having had their peaceful protests ignored (attacked or banned)
    they go get guns.
    Now I am not saying it was right but It was as much the fault of unionists as republicans, remember unionists brought the guns out first!

  • alexbr

    Loyalists were the ones in the north who killed people because of their catholic religon. The Shankill butchers were more like ISIS.
    And this guy is supposed to speak on behalf of catholics, to protect and look after their wellbeing. All he has done is give the catholic hating nutjobs here more amo to fire at his flock.
    Well done Cardinal!

  • Zeno

    “People turn to violence for a reason, conscious or unconscious, political or from personal motives that may be psychological in origin.”

    Oh right, it’s all our fault.

  • Zeno

    The Law is made by democratically elected governments. No one elects Terrorists, they just appoint themselves and decide they want to murder people to achieve their own aims which sometimes can be as simple as Armani Suits, Eyebrow waxing and Jobs working for the enemy.

  • alexbr

    Maggie Thatcher called Nelson Mandela a terrorist then quickly changed her tune when he was voted president.
    Not voting for terrorists makes sense but we can judge them by their actions and Ive seen first hand the terror an elected government can inflict.

  • Zeno

    Why would anyone care what Maggie Thatcher said about anything? The IRA, The UVF and all the rest elected themselves. The Shankill Butchers elected themselves.

  • alexbr

    She was elected British prime minister and behaved as a terrorist towards my family. I care.
    You may think she is due a get out of jail free card because she was “democratically elected” I don’t.

  • alexbr

    The climate on the Shankill was to kidnap innocent people of the street (catholics,fenians) take them to a bar to be humiliated and beaten by scores of drunk men before another round of torture with butcher knives and meat hooks along with having teeth pulled before finally having the throat sliced from ear to ear if they were not already dead, before dumping the corpse in an alleyway.
    The supposedly anti terrorist DUP UUP TUV march and celebrate culture with the men who did the butchering.
    I dont recall ever reading or hearing the IRA kidnapping protestants of the street to be murdered in the same barbaric fashion.


    Ive had my wings clipped by Mick, so I’ll respond here.

    James “Really? Perhaps you need to vary your reading material from Republican News, then.”

    Never read Republican News in my life.
    You ever read Martin Dillions book ‘The Shankill Butchers’?

  • james

    Really? Perhaps you need to vary your reading material from Republican News, then.

  • Guest

    “I read a lot about collusion ….”

    A statement that’s refuted by everything you subsequently write.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    My only interest here, Zeno, is not to apportion blame to any one side but to envisage a situation that does not ossify the violent reactions in our very particular situation, but to look into how they may be ended.

    The “apartheid lite” that marked the situation here before 1968, the willingness to see every non-protestant member of our community as an enemy of the state was certainly a contributory factor in creating a sense of oppression and alienation. For me and many others the way to oppose this was of Ghandi, bearing witness publicly and non-violently to the truth of what injustice was going on here in order to change it and to build an entire community away fro the antagonisms of two parts of that community. This involved both sides admitting fault and changing. I’d break the simplistic knee jerk apportioning of sole blame once and for all.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You are misrepresenting pretty much every argument I’ve put forward, rather than answering them, so I’m leaving it there.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Who ordained, Zeno, that “Democratically elected governments” should be the final touchstone of authorisation for anything? They are man-craeted for the convenience of managing states, not some repository of moral worth, despite having seemingly become the secularised “religion” of our time! As Ghandi said:

    “In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.”

    In my understanding, its what people or governments do, not what they may claim to be that counts. If an elected government acts unjustly or brutally against its people it becomes not different to “terrorists” morally. For myself both acted immorally here during the period of violence. The tendency to favour one violent action over another is only possible where the moral diminution is ignored, and this absence of a dispassionate moral evaluation of both side’s actions leaves the way open for either side to claim the high ground.

  • Zeno

    Back to motive Seaan.
    One is acting to protect society.
    The other is acting to promote their own aims.
    There is a difference.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    That’s just too vague, Zeno. The PIRA could present a case that they were protecting society also! We could argue about motive here forever and both make points that would get solid public support. Myself, I’d go back to the legal issues of terrorist and partizan to find a real argument, but one that criminalises the British war effort, especially SOE, also.

    The Hague conventions were operative in the last war, and under these not only the targeting of civilians in the bombing campaign I’ve mentioned, but also any warfare carried out by franc-tireurs was illegal under the Hague convention no. IV of 1907, the laws that operated at the time. At the Nurenburg Trials the execution of such Franc-Tireurs was deemed to not be a war crime. The quote below refers specifically to the execution of such partizans in the eastern Europe:

    “We are obliged to hold that such guerrillas were francs tireurs who, upon capture, could be subjected to the death penalty. Consequently, no criminal responsibility attaches to the defendant List because of the execution of captured partisans..”

    This included SOE. To rectify this new protocols were agreed at the Third Geneva Convention.

    In order to qualify as an irregular combatant with a right to POW status certain conditions had to be met:

    (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates.
    (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance (possibly armbands, such as the civilian dressed home guard used in the early years of WWII).
    (c) that of carrying arms openly.
    (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

    As far as I can ascertain PIRA only met the first of these conditions entirely. Their tactics required them to deliberately attempt to blend in with civilians, to conceal their armaments, and in their targeting of situations where they would almost certainly kill civilians they showed little respect for the laws and customs of war. The entire idea that non-combatants and combatants needed to be distinguished by uniform was key to the protection of civilians, for if anyone could fight out of uniform the civilian population could be deemed enemy combatants!!! You’ll note that the men of Easter 1916 scrupulously adhered to the Hague Conventions in their military actions.

    Instead of using vague concepts open to serious argument such as the protection of society these things should be related to the international agreements that all civilised countries should operate under in war. But, as I’ve pointed out, the British war effort 1939-45 set a precedent of wantonly breaking such agreements arguing total war (not an acceptable argument legally) something which permitted PIRA to claim a right to their own moral grey areas in these matters. So I seriously do not see how you can condemn the one without taking the precedent of the other into account. But in reality, this legal position is the only grounds on which they may be condemned objectively. Every other argument is simply as Brendan Behan sings in “The Hostage”, “a case of sentiment.”

  • Zeno

    “The PIRA could present a case that they were protecting society also!”

    Em……….. nope. They have been trying to do that, but it isn’t stacking. They were murdering people for their own aims. They failed to protect anyone from anything.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Zeno, what I’m trying to point out is that the same sort of case for motive could be presented by either side precisely because it is based on subjectivity. You trust that British motivation in the last war (and during the violence here) was good, I see it as being driven by what Mussolini called “Sacred Egotism”, the self interests of their particular polity. For anyone not thinking subjectivly this is really no different to PIRAs case. Now as I oppose all violence, and do not have to justify the violence of either “side”, this presents no problem for me. The self interest of both “sides” in the recent violence here is evident. Raising the culpability of their opponents does not make either side more “correct”, it simply shows what the Germans call a “gestalt”, “an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts” which may reveil important qualifications that any partial and subjective case will whitewash over.

    As I’m reading your posts you seem to be attempting to say that one side was innocent and one guilty. To me, both were guilty in differing ways, and both can make legitimate claims to protective action for particular communities. If you had been on the Falls in August 1968 when it was shot up by the old “B” Specials, you might have less difficulty seeing PIRA in this role. The following year with the curfew on the Falls and military involvement in arms searches, etc, the arguement that the British army was an army of occupation was given vivid credibility for many there, with PIRA cast as a sole line of defense. This was a mess, morally speaking, and to simply set the state up as good guys and any opposition as evil men does not take in all the complex shades of grey that actually developed in the situation, as bad calls were made by the state and these mistakes used as very effective propaganda coups.

    This esculation of the situation from a non-violent demand for civil rights into violent confrontation by others on both sides was a serious mistake. Both sides looked all too readily to violence to settle the quarrel quickly in their favour. This was never going to settle anything, and we are living with the outcome today, dropped into yet another crass political mess, but one rather less bloody.

    But no, the situation requires considerably more analysis that claiming that one side had good motives and the other did not. This is something that can only be argued subjectivly, and requires a blindsiding of much of what occured. As I’ve shown above, a strong case can easily be developed against PIRA, but this kind of subjective response is certainly not it.

  • Thomas Girvan

    According to Wikipedia, it was claimed by the “Republican Reaction Force”.
    Obviously that is a cover name, similar to Kingsmills to avoid the stigma of a clearly sectarian attack.
    No one has ever been brought to book and it being in South Armagh, it is extremely unlikely that anyone ever will.