“six months later nothing seems to have replaced that philosophy beyond aggressively taking on the DUP…”

Ahead of the likely suspension of open party political hostilities briefings to the media for the summer, the News Letter’s Sam McBride has an interesting piece in search of a Sinn Féin strategy.  [There’s a strategy?! – Ed]  Just tactics…

From the News Letter

Long forgotten are the days when Martin McGuinness warmly recalled how he and Ian Paisley had agreed that they could run their own affairs and didn’t need English ministers in Belfast.

Sinn Fein is now warning the government against implementing direct rule, despite the fact that there has been no budget and no democratic oversight of the civil service in Northern Ireland for three months.

But creeping direct rule began two months ago when Westminster legislated for a devolved matter by passing the The Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Act 2017.

Sinn Fein made no criticism of that at the time – and it would have been difficult to have done so, given that the legislation was necessary to allow for rates bills which bring in the money to pay for public services – and yet it was a hugely symbolic act which demonstrated Stormont’s inferior position to Westminster.

Now there is the prospect of a far more substantial piece of legislation – the Stormont budget – being passed at Westminster if Stormont does not return rapidly.

If that happens, it will undermine Sinn Fein’s argument about the significance of Stormont as an institution.

And yet, having declined to take up their places in the Stormont Executive, how could Sinn Fein denounce a British minister for fulfilling a duty for which their MLAs are being paid but are refusing to undertake?

The danger, for both the DUP and Sinn Fein, is that with a weak minority government in Westminster the passage of a Stormont budget through the chamber may no longer be a formality.

MPs could seek to recoup some of the £1 billion secured by the DUP or seek to change Stormont policy by inserting lines into the budget.

A fortnight ago Gerry Adams said that he wants Stormont back because “strategically that is the way to a united Ireland”.

If that is genuinely his thinking, for all Sinn Fein’s tough talk the party’s choice would appear to be either going back to Stormont without getting all of their demands or sacrificing the strategic route to a united Ireland.

Read the whole thing.


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  • ted hagan

    Try the fairly even-handed account of the UDR in Wikipedia which provides the source material.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Republicans had murdered well over 100 people in just over two years before Bloody Sunday. 118 I think by the end of 1971.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    And the question was, what is your view on the IRA’s activities – particularly in the Troubles?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m not slandering the Irish Army, I think it’s a fine organisation, with excellent relations with our own armed forces. My point was armed forces thrust into situations like the Troubles are going to have rogue operatives and go wrong from time to time. I don’t think it means the Irish Army are a sectarian force just because they had some dodgy guys in league with Haughey and Blaney to fund the IRA – it was one episode and not typical of their work.

    I think if you look at Operation Banner overall, it’s on a much bigger scale and much more involved, but you come to the same conclusion – they weren’t perfect and some individuals who suffered from army lapses have a right to feel aggrieved at those incidents, but overall their record was nothing short of remarkable. To have shown such restraint in the face of such a scale of lethal attacks, while rarely taking the fight back to the terrorists, over such a long period, was admirable. We all owe them big time.

    I don’t expect everyone to recognise that debt, I know the myths some prefer and I understand why those myths work for them. But anyone who served should know, I appreciate their service and thank them for keeping me and my family safe for all those years. It really is something I will never forget – it is a huge thing those army families did for all of us.

  • Damien Mullan

    Well sure they did it for you. Not me or my family.

    But unionists are perfectly entitled to commemorate, just don’t expect nationalists to turn up, sure we’ll remember the fallen of WW1 and WW2, but not for operations beyond that, particularly during The Troubles. That just will not be entertained.

    Bloody Sunday will never be forgotten where I live. Even in the years since Cameron’s welcome apology it remains the touchstone event for this city. We, nationalists that is, owe at least that much to the innocent who fell that day.

    It’s among only a few events, after which my father has had a few, that will draw tears from him. That’s replicated across this town, from father to son and mother to daughter. It shattered everything. The belief that progress could be made by peaceful means, without peace itself falling victim to heavy handed repression. And you know my father is very critical of Sinn Fein and the Provo’s, we’re an SDLP supporting and voting family, but he doesn’t hold any animosity towards his friends and neighbours who were driven into the PIRA after Bloody Sunday, though it was a step he himself could never have taken. All I have is his recollections of these events as I was born in the mid eighties, but I feel a profound sense of duty to keep his story and experiences alive, not to let them fade when his memory does. That’s what I am thankful for.

  • Damien Mullan

    How many people died in 1972 following Bloody Sunday? The figure for that year alone was 500.

    Your British Army escalated the conflict. For a man so concerned about numbers and the attrition rate why don’t you mull on that.

  • Damien Mullan

    You want to to put that into 140 characters or less?

    Paramilitary activities in opposition to a repressive and discriminatory state. That about sums up their birth.

  • Damien Mullan

    And security forces and loyalists killed 85 by the end of 1971.

    After all that what have you proven.

    Lets talk about the number of people killed in 1966.

    “On 21 May, the UVF issued a statement declaring “war” against the IRA and anyone helping it. On 27 May the UVF fatally shot a Catholic civilian, John Scullion, as he walked home. A month later it shot three Catholic civilians as they left a pub, killing a young Catholic from the Republic, Peter Ward.”

    How many did republicans kill in 1966?

    Given you’re the numbers man.

    I suppose the destruction of Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin necessitated the killing of 2 Catholics.

  • grumpy oul man

    Of course no mention of the annual unionist approved displays of disrespect we are just entering.
    Or the regular insults to Irish Language or culture routinely dished by senior members of the party that leads unionism and the one that used to lead it.
    Its hard to respect the poppy when it is used as a loyality test by unionists, perhaps if unionists stopped waving the union flag at every opportunity and stopped burning the tricolour (check out Poots lighting a bonfire) at every opportunity the nationlist might give the union flag some respect.
    Compared to unionists nationlists are mere amatuers in the disrespect game.

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh dear, now who was who was complaining about a people not being judged by it poltical leaders.
    It was you wasn’t on another thread about the DUP (i have a screenshot, care to see it) what happened in less than a week for you to change your mind on
    “In a liberal society we should not judge a whole people on its leaders”
    Because that’s ehat jou just done to Sf voters.

  • grumpy oul man

    You dont like it when how they started comes up, or the history of discrimination that led up to and the violent resistance to Democratic change that birthed the provos.
    But sure lets bring up the troubles?

  • Croiteir

    If true democracy worked there would not be a border, that is why the statelet does not “work” –

  • Starviking

    Ted, Wikipedia is not the most trustworthy of sources on contentious issues, and the sources in the section on the Girdwood Barracks investigation come from only one source. It’s pretty interesting stuff, but incomplete.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You haven’t given a view on them though – “paramilitary activities” as a response is devoid of any moral judgment one way or the other on the IRA – is this a difficult question for you to answer?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here? We’re all aware of the Gusty Spence killings in 1966. I know the Republican trope these days is to take that as the starting point of the Troubles so they can “prove” that Loyalists “started it”. The problem is:
    (1) nothing much happened in the way of violence in 1967. And while there were some incidents in 1968, most historians and journalists, as well as people there at the time, take the events of the summer of 1969 as the start of the Troubles – for what its worth.
    (2) if you’re looking for root causes that fed into the Troubles, by all means look at events earlier in the 60s, 50s, 40s, whatever. But in that case it seems odd to isolate the killings one small Loyalist group in 1966 as uniquely linked in, any more than for example the 4 year IRA campaign that only ended in 1962, or the IRA plans for a major offensive in the mid 60s, or the IRA presence at commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1966, or the activities of the Wolfe Tone Societies and so on.
    (3) in the 60s the IRA was the biggest, most established, best armed and most organised terrorist group on the island, by far (though by later standards, relatively shambolic of course). It built numbers throughout the decade, having around 1000 members by the time the Troubles started. There was an expectation within the nationalist communities in which they lived that the IRA was active, armed and would be able to respond quickly to events. Hence the surprise and anger in some nationalist areas that the IRA appeared initially caught on the hop when the inter-communal rioting started. The leadership found themselves catching up with events rather than leading them for a few months – though members were heavily involved – but after the split in particular they were soon back in the driver’s seat.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Bloody Sunday was an atrocious thing, a day never anything like repeated by the army thereafter. And I know nationalists saw it as a ratcheting up of the conflict from their point of view. The other point of view I would ask you to take into account is this: before Bloody Sunday, Republicans / nationalists had killed significantly more people than either the army had or Loyalists had, or even both those figures combined. Even after Bloody Sunday, Republicans / nationalists had still killed significantly more people. It was a particularly shocking incident because so many people died on the same day and they were innocent people that got killed – and clearly that was a gift for the ghouls of the IRA to exploit. Exploit it they did.

    If you look at the killing percentages before and after Bloody Sunday, you’ll see they barely change. Republicans were doing most of the killing before it and continued to do most of the killing after it, just at a higher level. The main thing that changed was that there was a much lower rate of the use of lethal force thereafter by the army.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “I have never in all my years of living in Derry seen a Union Flag burned or defaced, never, nor any British emblems”
    And yet the poppy is considered offensive there.
    If I walked in there with a Union flag wearing a Rangers shirt, what do you think would happen to:
    a) the Union flag
    b) the Rangers shirt
    c) me
    I’ve been attacked in Belfast for wearing the wrong school uniform, and my elderly Protestant relatives in Donegal had their house broken into and daubed with sectarian obscenities – so please don’t try and tell me nationalists are all paragons of respect and pluralism. Blaming one side for sectarianism is just silly. People show their sectarianism in different ways. Some nationalists have been known to dress up their sectarianism in the language of freedom and liberation, pausing only to carry out summary executions of Protestants and dump their body on a country road. “Legitimate targets” and all that.

    I’d have thought in Derry you might have noticed how the wonderfully tolerant attitude of Republicans in the city has had Protestants flocking there to be part of the warm embrace. When you can show Protestant numbers returning to former levels on the city side, then you can talk about Derry as a positive example. Keep me up to date please on your efforts to build bridges … Clue: IRA not popular with us and we don’t buy their apologists’ BS. Reconciliation depends on nationalism ditching the IRA legacy – that much is surely obvious.

  • Croiteir

    Why did they build it?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    and you regard that as an impartial account of events?

  • Damien Mullan

    I work in the largest department store in the Derry, which has a mixed work force, and many of my colleagues wear the poppy from late October through November, and not a thing is said, either by other staff or members or the public. That is replicated across businesses in the city as well.

    We haven’t painted or defaced any Royal Mail post boxes in any of the city’s neighborhoods either.

    So with all due respect you’re wrong as far as the respect agenda is concerned in the largely nationalist city of Derry.

    “Dress up their sectarianism in the language of freedom and liberation.” So social justice can’t be referenced in case it offends the sensibilities of unionists, I suppose there are no LGBT people from the nationalist community who need representation and new rights won.

    I suppose among those “Legitimate targets” were the patrons of an establishment in Greysteel who assembled to enjoy the Halloween festivities, or of those who were watching a soccer match in Loughinisland.

    I’m not asking that the PIRA be ‘popular’ in your community, such a suggestion would be ridiculous, but you need in future to preference your use of ‘we’ and ‘our’, because we may share this region together, but we are distinctly different, we are not the same, different nations, different narratives, tolerance yes, but not submergence into an indefinable meaningless ‘shared’ narrative. That’s impossible.

    So you can have ‘Northern Ireland’ but don’t ever lambaste Irish nationalists, north or south, over the use of ‘the north’ or the ‘six counties’. I saw a disgraceful display by labour unionist MP Kate Hoey last year during during a Commons Select Committee on Brexit when she harangued the Director General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce over his use of ‘the north’. John McGrane was rather more diplomatic in his response than I would have been, I would have engaged in a full throttled nuclear like argument with her.

    As for the PIRA legacy within nationalism, that will always be a rather more nuanced appraisal, than unionists will have, which is natural enough.

  • Damien Mullan

    “The other point of view I would ask you to take into account is this: before Bloody Sunday, Republicans / nationalists had killed significantly more people than either the army had or Loyalists had, or even both those figures combined.”

    Yes, because that’s how conflicts unfold. In Nationalist households there where ‘attrition’ charts marking the months and years and demographic breakdown of those being killed. And of the method of death too, assault rifle, pistol, plastic bullet, semtex, grenade, and so on.

    I happen to think you fixate on the attrition rate and the demographics therein, because an examination of the political context of the northern statelet is a rather sticky wicket for unionists. Lets kick up enough dust over the deaths from the 1970’s onward, sufficient enough that the cloud created, will make penetrating through to clearly examine the context and climate that gave rise to conflict, a sufficiently obscured task.

    That’s your game, that’s the game of all unionists.

  • Damien Mullan

    Nothing much happened after Poland fell and before France was invaded either, other than a small and rather shambolic skirmish in Norway. But no one suggestions that the historical timeline of the Second World War pause out for 8 months.

    1966 doesn’t suit your predetermined timeline, that’s the only problem with 1966 for you. It doesn’t fit your narrative. So I guess you were lambasting unionist and Alliance party politicians, who prattled on nonsensically in the run-up to the centennial commemoration last year, that in retrospect, the 1966 commemoration in their analysis, was a contributing factor in The Troubles.

    I’ll hazard a bet and say you were in complete agreement with them, why, because consistency is no virtue for unionists in assessing The Troubles.

  • Damien Mullan

    You’ll not give a ‘moral judgment’ on the northern statelet either. The origin of the conflict?

  • Damien Mullan

    What’s incorrect?

  • Zeno3

    No idea, you would need to ask them.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’ll happily do so and have done many times on these pages. The question though was on your view the IRA’s “armed struggle”. Can I put it to you again please?

    Just to remove any excuse, my summarised view on 1921-72 is pretty much in line with historians (Alvin Jackson, Henry Patterson, Marc Mulholland, Paul Bew, Paul Arthur etc). That is, UUP provided conservative, laissez-faire government when progressive government was needed and did little to address existing disparities in outcomes; however they were fairly elected to Stormont; they governed in a way that (quite mildly) favoured unionists; there was discrimination in some areas of employment though it was only one of many factors; the province neededpitical reform, but claims of an “apartheid” state were overblown. Many of the nationalist analyses overstated the disadvantage suffered by them, particularly in housing where there was no net discriminatory effect. So overall, a poor record of government and a cold house for Catholics but it was a case of a sclerotic government that was slow to change and mildly unfair in patches, not Nazi Germany, South Africa or Alabama. And I think nationalist politics contributed too, there was also back-scratching and discrimination there at a local level, just on a smaller scale. There was nothing though that required any blood to be spilt and certainly no justification for an organisation like the IRA to exist.

    Your turn …

  • Damien Mullan

    The historians you have noted come from the unionist school, as is quite predictable. I prefer, as I would, Ronan Fanning, Diarmaid Ferriter, Dermot Keogh, Terence Brown, Joseph Lee, Fearghal McGarry, Robert Kee etc.

    It provided sectarian devolved and local government throughout its existence. A scan over local authority election returns and local authority employment is a clear indication of favoritism based solely on religion.

    Local government, Local authority employment, housing allocation, the franchise, to name but a few, are the indicating factors that NI was a sectarian state.

    Let the late English Broadcaster and Historian Robert Kee take you down memory lane.

  • Croiteir

    I thought you would have no idea – thanks for confirming

  • MainlandUlsterman

    and once again the question for you was on your views on the IRA campaign … don’t be shy

  • Damien Mullan

    We, nationalists that is, could have done without it frankly.

    I was thinking about this today, ruminating on the period, and the various emotions that came over me.

    I thought of my father’s rage, still felt, over the death of Pasty Gillespie and the others killed during the Proxy bombing. Of Stakeknife, and the people he fingered and accused of colluding who ended up being killed, of course British intelligence ran Stakeknife, which complicates things and points to the meshing of the protagonists to the conflict, points up its dirty nature.

    Then I think of Bloody Sunday, of the injury and injustice, not just the act itself, but the cloud of innuendo and criminalisation that British justice unfurled over the families and my hometown.

    I think of the terrible deeds committed by those young teens and men whose lives took a different course, who took the lethal option, like Martin McGuinness, when he saw in 68 and 69 the assaults on the civil rights movement, of what moment(s), like many other teens too, was the straw that broke the camel’s back for them. Of the blighted and wasted lives, of those sent away to serve time for terrible deeds.

    I think also of the defiance, indeed, bravery, it took for republican prisoners to refuse food and embark on hunger strike, of the symmetry with Terence MacSweeney, which doubtless they knew, but also of the corner and dilemma Thatcher had backed herself into.

    I think of the gut wrenching horror of it all. I come away more sad than angry. I have no judgments to make, other than what hatred has the power to unleash. And that hatred still lives.

    I know I can never reconcile myself to this state, I acknowledge its existence, insofar as the majority of the people here want it, but beyond that I have no love nor loyalty for it, and will be joyful beyond measure the instance it is democratically abolished. A sentiment I know that is shared across Irish nationalism, but I know is not among unionists. Those are gulfs that can never be bridged, they strike at the heart of identity and being itself, so profound they are, tis only left to mull through things, there is no hope for anything greater.

  • Georgie Best

    As you say a paper poppy is a British symbol that should be respected. It should not be claimed that it represents people in general though, as is usually the case.

  • Starviking

    Those killings were disgraceful acts, and it’s a pity that the perpetrators were not pursued and prosecuted. However, I don’t think it can be said that the IRA were almost invisible in the North, Robert Lynch in The Northern IRA and the early years of partition gives 465 people dead in Belfast in the conflict of 1920–22, 159 Protestant civilians, 258 Catholic civilians, 35 British forces and 12 IRA volunteers.

    An example of such IRA actions, from the Wikipedia article on the Arnot Street Killings is that the day before the killings, IRA members threw a grenade though the window of the house of Protestant Francis Donnelly, killing his two-year-old son Frank and mortally wounding another son, Joseph (12).

    Sadly, in both jurstisdictions, paramilitary forces escaped any from of justice, e.g. the Dunmanway Killings, various score-settlings after partition (killing sons to get at the father, fathers to get at the sons), and other sectarian murders.

    On to the UDR, there certainly was continuity with the old Specials, but how much? It was around 50 years after the first Troubles, and Potter, in A Testimony to Courage – the Regimental History of the Ulster Defence Regiment 1969 – 1992 gives around 17% of the initial recruits to the UDR being Specials. So partial continuity at best.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You think we exaggerate how bad The Troubles were? My previous response should have shown you I’m not imagining the period before the Troubles was blame-free for unionists. But three problems with your stance:
    – unfairness and inequality in a society are bad things, few would disagree – but deliberately crippling people, torturing them, carrying out summary “justice” by kneecapping them, putting bombs under people’s cars and shooting them in their homes, on the MASSIVE scale that paramilitary organiations unleashed after 1969, is surely of an entirely different order both morally and in terms of the negative impacts on people. It’s not great to miss out on a job opportunity you might have had, or to have your people undervalued and mistrusted by the state. But losing your life completely, or that of a loved one, is not just a greater wrong, it’s not even comparable.
    – people who feel the wrongs of the Troubles are much more extreme than those of the previous period feel that way genuinely. And they are hardly being irrational to take that view. I don’t know anyone for whom it’s just a tactic in political debate. The Troubles left deep, deep scars all of their own, which you underestimate.
    – you’ll find a lot of unionists perfectly happy to acknowledge the old unionist governments did not serve nationalists as well as they should. Where unionists and many in Alliance and the SDLP take issue with the Republican line though is that none of it was so bad anyone needed to get hurt; and we also realise the IRA campaign wasn’t really about pressing for improved civil rights, but about non-acceptance of UK sovereignty and the IRA’s own beliefs about violence as a cleansing, improving force and supposedly the only way to get political change. To them, people were just meat; their attitude to the taking of life was sick and deranged. When fair protest morphed into armed paramilitary attacks as it did in 1969-70, you could no longer talk of events in N Ireland being simply the fault of the government or a system in need of reform. You now had organisations like the IRA out there with a whole agenda of their own, making the weather. This was not the civil rights campaign, this was something that could barely be more different or more of a betrayal of the cause of creating a better, fairer, less sectarian N Ireland.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s not indended as a symbol for British people only, but for all who served and for all who want to remember the loss of life in wars. Many people who have served with or alongside the armed forces in wartime have been from other countries and many have been Irish. In WW1 in particular, Irishmen fought and died in the trenches and deserve to be remembered; and many Irish served voluntarily in WW2 also. The way more hardline nationalists have sought to sectarianise the poppy has been upsetting for many – unnecessarily divisive.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Can you not see how skewed that is? So in this account, attacks either just happen or are initiated by either Protestants or the police; the police are seen as effectively Protestant gangs in uniform and are portrayed as attacking peaceful demonstrations when in reality it was police coming under sustained attack (compare to the Scarman report on these events which heaped high praise on the police); the inter-communal rioting is described as an anti-Catholic pogrom, as if Catholics were not attacking Protestant areas and burning out homes. Not a fair summary to suggest that police failed to protect Catholic areas as if there was some conspiracy; to the extent police failed it was due to being overwhelmed by attacks from rioting crowds, many of them Catholic. And there’s no mention of the rioting in Derry being initiated by a Catholic-on-Protestant attack and largely sustained by Catholic youths attacking police, who were under a duty to stand their ground, seek to restore order and to make arrests of those using violence. Nor does it mention that the Belfast trouble was initiated and co-ordinated between Relublicans in Derry and Belfast to stretch the police and started with a nationalist mob attacking a police station in Belfast, with two night of nationalist-led rioting. That is swept under the carpet.

    In short, a breakdown into civil disorder in which both Catholics and Protestants played more or less equal roles is morphed into a story of Catholics as victims, Protestants as oppressors and police as either doing nothing or helping Protestants, when in fact they were working their a***s off in impossible conditions, getting it from both sides. Many loyalists instinctively hate the police and the feeling has very often been mutual, but this is an inconvenient or oerhaps unknown aspect of the dynamic for the writer and so is simply ignored in this account.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    For a very full account of culpability and for the growth of the IRA in the north, I can recommend “Belfast’s Unholy war” by Alan Parkinson.


    For Specials culpabilities I’d suggest Tim Wilson’s “‘The most terrible assassination that has yet stained the name of Belfast’: the McMahon murders in context” in Irish Historical Studies.


    The IRA attracted support during 1921after the experiences of the almost helpless condition of the northern Catholic community in 1920 when the expulsions from the shipyards and other industries along with burning out of families was endemic. It was this, and ongoing atrocity against Catholics in the north, which encouraged the development of anti-protestant reprisal in the south. You mention the Dunmanway killings, which were brought to popular attention by the late Peter Hart. Peter and I spoke about the north while he was alive, and he fully concurred that the north led the way in the escalation of atrocity across Ireland.

    The IRA was utterly negligible in the north in 1920 when much of the worst loyalist atrocity occurred against constitutionalist IPP families in Belfast, frequently against Catholic ex-service men. The killing of Inspector Swanzy in August 1920 required the drafting in of IRA from Munster because the north had no organisation capable of effecting it. By 1922 there was a functioning IRA in the north, but while Lynch’s book is quite sound research, I’d advise reading local memoirs with care. Significantly, the figures Lynch mentioned need to be contextualised. The appearance of an almost apparent parity of dead between the sections of the community does not take into account that there were only half an many Catholics as Protestants in the north. So proportionate losses should be notionally qualified by this to get an accurate picture of the experience. And simple statistics of killings does not take into account the massive unemployment and want occasioned by the expulsions from work and the wanton attacks on Catholic areas of the city involving expulsions and burnings. Much of this occurred during curfews as did the sectarian murders, when only Specials, RIC or Army were legitimately able to move through the city. It is easy to assess possible culpabilities from that simple fact. This history has only been properly researched since the 1990s and there are still many gaps which require serious appraisal. Not the least of this is the problem of examining the culpabilities of the new Unionist administration. Both Carson and Craig praised the yard men who expelled Catholic workers, and while knowing better, used the term Sinn Féin emotively in 1920 to encourage attacks on a community which was still almost entirely Constitutionalist nationalists, IPP supporters. My grandfather was particularly incensed at the attacks on ex-service men, some of whom he had fought alongside on the western front from 1915-1918.

    The point I was making about the UDR was not that there was some strong continuity of personal, but a strong continuity of attitudes, something which facilitated its use as a training ground by loyalists.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    To defend those historians, two of the five I mentioned are actually nationalists and while Bew and Patterson would probably be happy to be called pro-Union (though Patterson is first and foremost of the left), I think Jackson eschews any of that. Most of them would be pretty offended (and amused I think) to be described as of the “unionist school”.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Thanks for a thoughtful answer. I know it is heartfelt and appreciate you sharing that. I hope you understand though that there is something deeply problematic about the apparent ambivalence towards the IRA (something at the heart of much of the present-day unionist ill-feeling that there is towards nationalists). There does seem to be this sense of being unwilling to straightforwardly condemn them, even from someone like yourself who I accept was basically opposed to them. There isn’t really room for equivocation when it comes to these organisations.

    The UVF for example were unionists like me and I understand a lot of the feelings they will have had – but I have no hesitation in unreservedly condemning not just what they did but them as an organisation and feeling they should never have existed and have been a blight on society. As a unionist I am ashamed people did what they did in my name – and I stand with their victims against them all day every day. If they went on a hunger strike I wouldn’t support it and if they asked to have the ear of the PM I would tell them where to go.

    It would be nice to see such a zero tolerance approach to paramilitaries reciprocated on the nationalist side – we might all be in a better place.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The point is though, nuanced appraisals are code for trying to sit on the fence, when there is no fence to actually sit on here. Either terrorism is wrong or it isn’t. It’s not any better because we might share some common ethnic identity or political goal with the terrorists. You might think it does no harm to couch the IRA campaign as a grey area, or to scratch the chin and sagely opine ‘it’s complicated’. But it has done huge harm and is continuing to do huge harm, just as Protestant sympathy for paramilitaries does. It destroys trust and it encourages people to be unpleasant back – ‘why should I be nice to her, she thinks killing us was OK’ – and the whole discourse is dragged down. We end up with ethnic mud-slinging and political breakdown. There are other things that debase our society but the push to rehabilitate the guilty men of the Troubles era is surely the most poisonous and the least digestible of all.

    The good news is, there is no real need for it and it can just stop. All it takes is political will among the people to genuinely cut the terrorist past adrift and wish it good riddance. However, I don’t sense SF for one feels under pressure to make that move. That really has to change.

  • Damien Mullan

    I can understand your perspective, in which you, as a unionist, feel no alienation from the state in which you live. And I understand your willingness to condemn loyalist terrorist organisations, which is a beginning of sorts, but your reticence at a thorough inquisition of the state and state forces during the period, indicates that there are institutions in which your identity is entwined, to which you will not countenance eschewing from the established unionist narrative which begins and ends with the PIRA.

    What organs of the unionist state could have been said to have been shared and cross community in the period 1921-72, I can think of none. So I understand the draw that the PIRA had for many young Catholics in the late-sixties and early-seventies. An organisation they saw as the defenders of their community, from the organs of a state to which they were nominally citizens, but which brutalised and marginalised them.

    So I can sympathise with their predicament, but I cannot say that it would have been a course of action I would myself have undertaken, this I can’t say for sure, but insomuch as I am my father’s son, I can hazard a guess, as appalled as I might have been at the suppression of universal freedoms to assembly and protest, that nonetheless violence was not the answer to violence.

  • Damien Mullan

    I happen to think it is couched in the profound ethno-religious differences of the conflict and of this region. I think that is just as certifiable a fact as the nose on my face.

    It’s the profound differences, the unbridgeable differences, the fission of difference, so great that nothing can encompass the whole between the two.

    This is most evident in the debate we have been having in this thread.

    The south endured a terrible civil war, in which former friends, men like Justice Minister Kevin O’Higgins, found himself directing the executions of 77 anti-treaty IRA volunteers, among them Rory O’Connor, his closest friend who had only a year before served as his best man during his wedding. Such stories are replicated throughout that conflict. Similarly, many close friends who had served at West Point and other military academies before the outbreak of the American Civil War, found themselves bitter enemies on opposing sides. I think of Union Quartermaster General, Montgomery Meigs, a Georgian who had remained loyal to the union, who had been a close friend of Robert E. Lee before the war, but who had developed a strong animosity towards Lee, especially after he lost his son, it was Meigs who directed that Lee’s home of Arlington be requisition and made a union cemetery. I think of the horrors of the Spanish civil war, the incredible destruction and the welling animosity that it created for generations.

    These conflicts exhibited essential shared attributes among the people, that where missing during the conflict here, and which remain missing today. The America of the 1860’s, both north and south, was largely homogeneous, religiously, linguistically, and ethnically too, only with the large scale immigration of the late 19th and early 20th century did these demographics undergo extensive change.

    Contested is the conflict, contested is the legacy, for contested is the history, as contested are the peoples. Whereas there was a willingness, though resentment still brewed, to bury the past and focus on the future, as the case of Sean Lemass illustrates, who lost a brother during the civil war, but who resolved that bitterness not divide fellow Irishmen and women engaged in the national effort of renewal and modernisation. This magnanimity though can only truly be offered when identity itself is not being contested, when one’s identity is not simultaneously being assaulted.

    This is an outcome that can never transpire here, because there are two peoples, not one, no appeal to bind up the wounds, no magnanimous acts, no ‘shared’ narrative can encompass the whole, because the whole has always been vacant. No patronising talk by nationalists of the ‘shared’ enlightenment endeavour of the men of 98′, for any objective analysis gives lie to that fable.

    What is shared is the profound difference that exists between us. That is what is universal about this place.

    That’s why your desire for, I don’t know what to call it, without a string of adjectives, but the pan-catholic-nationalist-republican-protestant-unionist-loyalist population of this place, as you can see no singular noun can ever truly encompass the whole of this place, but anyway, that no common shared narrative of the conflict, of the PIRA, indeed, of history itself, will ever be attainable here. It is a bridge too far.

    So we are left with the unequivocal and the equivocal when it comes to all these issues.

  • Damien Mullan

    Well at least you didn’t mention Richard English, Ruth Dudley Edwards, or the late Peter Hart.

  • Damien Mullan

    I see you invest much of your identity into the ‘state’ and its associated organs, the police, the army. And if there come in for criticism, rightly so, for their many failures, the instinct is to reverse gears and initiate apologist and false equivalence mode.

    None of what transpired during those years is a surprise to nationalists, or the outside world who looked on in horror.

    And that’s because people with eyes to see and ears to hear, needed only to open them, to see and hear it out of the horse’s mouth itself, to understand what Northern Ireland was and what its institutions where engaged in.

    Some quotes and extracts from speeches, reports, and books, on the subject of discrimination in Northern Ireland.

    ‘A man in Fintona asked him how it was that he had over 50 percent Roman Catholics in his Ministry. He thought that was too funny. He had 109 of a staff, and so far as he knew there were four Roman Catholics. Three of these were civil servants, turned over to him whom he had to take when he began.’
    Sir Edward Archdale, Unionist Party, Minister of Agriculture, Stormont, 1925
    Reported in: Northern Whig, 2 April 1925

    “Another allegation made against the Government and which was untrue, was that, of 31 porters at Stormont, 28 were Roman Catholics. I have investigated the matter, and I find that there are 30 Protestants, and only one Roman Catholic there temporarily.”
    J. M. Andrews, Unionist Party, Minister of Labour, Stormont, 1933
    Quoted in: Harrison, Henry (1939), Ulster and the British Empire 1939: Help or Hindrance?, London: Robert Hale.

    ‘There was a great number of Protestants and Orangemen who employed Roman Catholics. He felt he could speak freely on this subject as he had not a Roman Catholic about his own place (Cheers). He appreciated the great difficulty experienced by some of them in procuring suitable Protestant labour, but he would point out that the Roman Catholics were endeavouring to get in everywhere and were out with all their force and might to destroy the power and constitution of Ulster. … He would appeal to loyalists, therefore, wherever possible to employ good Protestant lads and lassies.’
    Sir Basil Brooke, Unionist Party, then junior government whip, 12 July 1933
    later to become Lord Brookeborough and Northern Ireland Prime Minister
    Reported in: Fermanagh Times, 13 July 1933;
    Quoted in: Hepburn, A. C. (1980), The Conflict of Nationality in Modern Ireland, London: Edward Arnold (Documents of Modern History series). Page 164.

    “When I made that declaration last ‘twelfth’ I did so after careful consideration. What I said was justified. I recommended people not to employ Roman Catholics, who were 99 per cent disloyal.”
    Sir Basil Brooke, Unionist Party, then Minister of Agriculture, 19 March 1934
    later to become Lord Brookeborough and Northern Ireland Prime Minister
    [Reported in: Belfast News Letter, 20 March 1934];
    Quoted in: Commentary upon The White Paper (Cmd.558) entitled ‘A Record of Constructive Change’ (1971)

    “The hon. Member for South Fermanagh (Mr. Healy) has raised the question of what is the Government’s policy [in relation to the employment of Catholics]. My right hon. Friend (Sir Basil Brooke) spoke [on 12 July 1933 and 19 March 1934] as a Member of His Majesty’s Government. He spoke entirely on his own when he made the speech to which the hon. Member refers, but there is not one of my colleagues who does not entirely agree with him, and I would not ask him to withdraw one word he said.”
    Sir James Craig, Unionist Party, then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, 20 March 1934
    Reported in: Parliamentary Debates, Northern Ireland House of Commons, Vol. XVI, Cols. 617-618.

    “I suppose I am about as high up in the Orange Institution as anybody else. I am very proud indeed to be Grand Master of the loyal County of Down. I have filled that office many years, and I prize that far more than I do being Prime Minister. I have always said I am an Orangeman first and a politician and Member of this Parliament afterwards. … The Hon. Member must remember that in the South they boasted of a Catholic State. They still boast of Sourthern Ireland being a Catholic State. All I boast is that we are a Protestant Parliament and Protestant State.”
    Sir James Craig, Unionist Party, then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, 24 April 1934
    Reported in: Parliamentary Debates, Northern Ireland House of Commons, Vol. XVI, Cols. 1091-95.
    Quoted in: Bardon, Jonathan. (1992) A History of Ulster. Belfast: The Blackstaff Press. Pages 538-539.
    [The remarks above about a “Protestant Parliament”, and the similar ones below about a “Protestant Government”, are often quoted as: ‘A Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People’, or ‘A Protestant State for a Protestant People’.]

    “The PRIME MINISTER [Sir James Craig]: The hon. Member says that all our appointments are carried out on a religious basis. I would like to go into this somewhat fully. The appointments made by the Government are made as far as we can possibly manage it of loyal men and women. Why not? And what objection can there possibly be to those who are upholding Ulster as part of the great British Empire and the United Kingdom, seeing that we have not got saturated through the place those who acquiesce in the policy of the hon. Members opposite, of endeavouring to break down the machinery of government given to us by the British people? Surely nothing could be clearer than that. If a man is a Roman Catholic, if he is fitted for the job, provided he is loyal to the core, he has as good a chance of appointment as anybody else; and if a Protestant is not loyal to the core he has no more chance than a similar Roman Catholic.
    Mr. O’NEILL: How do you test their loyalty?
    The PRIME MINISTER: There are ways of finding that out. The hon. Member knows just as well as I do there are ways of discovering whether a man is heart and soul in carrying out the intention of the Act of 1920, which was given to the Ulster people in order to save them from being swallowed up in a Dublin Parliament. Therefore, it is undoubtedly our duty and our privilege, and always will be, to see that those appointed by us possess the most unimpeachable loyalty to the King and Constitution. That is my whole object in carrying on a Protestant Government for a Protestant people. I repeat it in this House.”
    Sir James Craig, Unionist Party, then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, 21 November 1934
    Reported in: Parliamentary Debates, Northern Ireland House of Commons, Vol. XVII, Cols. 72-73.

    ‘At a meeting in Derry to select candidates for the Corporation Mr. H. McLaughlin said that for the past forty-eight years since the foundation of his firm there had been only one Roman Catholic employed – and that was a case of mistaken identity.’
    Mr. H. McLaughlin, Unionist Party, September 1946
    Reported in: Derry People, 26 September 1946
    Quoted in: Gallagher, Frank. (1957), The Indivisible Island: The History of the Partition of Ireland. London: Gollancz. Page 216.

    “The Nationalist majority in the county, i.e., Fermanagh, notwithstanding a reduction of 336 in the year, stands at 3,684. We must ultimately reduce and liquidate that majority. This county, I think it can be safely said, is a Unionist county. The atmosphere is Unionist. The Boards and properties are nearly all controlled by Unionists. But there is still this millstone [the Nationalist majority] around our necks.”
    E.C. Ferguson, Unionist Party, then Stormont MP, April 1948
    Later resigned from Parliament in October 1949 to become Crown Solicitor for County Fermanagh.
    Reported in: Irish News, 13 April 1948

    “When it is remembered that the first Minister [of Home Affairs], Sir Dawson Bates, held that post for 22 years and had such a prejudice against Catholics that he made it clear to his Permanent Secretary that he did not want his most juvenile clerk, or typist, if a Papist, assigned for duty to his Ministry, what could one expect when it came to filling posts in the Judiciary, Clerkships of the Crown and Peace and Crown Solicitors?”
    Mr. G.C. Duggan, Comptroller and Auditor-General in Northern Ireland (1945-49)
    Reported in: Irish Times, 4 May 1967

    “Northern Ireland is the one part of the United Kingdom which has a written constitution – the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. This Act specifically prohibits the Northern Ireland Parliament from making any laws which endow one religion or discriminate against another. Any such Act could be challenged in the courts and ruled to be inoperative. A similar prohibition applies to executive acts.
    In effect, the Government is not entitled to do what Parliament is not authorised to permit it to do. If there were such illegal actions by the Government, any person has the right and the opportunity to challenge them before the Courts.”
    Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1968) Northern Ireland Fact and Falsehood: A frank look at the present and the past, (n.d.,1968?). Belfast: Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

    “It is frightfully hard to explain to Protestants that if you give Roman Catholics a good job and a good house. they will live like Protestants because they will see neighbours with cars and television sets; they will refuse to have eighteen children. But if a Roman Catholic is jobless, and lives in the most ghastly hovel, he will rear eighteen children on National Assistance. If you treat Roman Catholics with due consider and kindness, they will live like Protestants in spite of the authoritative nature of their Church … ”
    Captain Terence O’Neill, Unionist Party, Northern Ireland Prime Minister, May 1969
    Reported in: Belfast Telegraph, 10 May 1969

    “We are satisfied that all these Unionist controlled councils have used and use their power to make appointments in a way which benefited Protestants. In the figures available for October 1968 only thirty per cent of Londonderry Corporations administrative, clerical and technical employees were Catholics. Out of the ten best-paid posts only one was held by a Catholic. In Dungannon Urban District none of the Council’s administrative, clerical and technical employees was a Catholic. In County Fermanagh no senior council posts (and relatively few others) were held by Catholics: this was rationalised by reference to ‘proven loyalty’ as a necessary test for local authority appointments. In that County, among about seventy-five drivers of school buses, at most seven were Catholics. This would appear to be a very clear case of sectarian and political discrimination. Armagh Urban District employed very few Catholics in its salaried posts, but did not appear to discriminate at lower levels. Omagh Urban District showed no clearcut pattern of discrimination, though we have seen what would appear to be undoubted evidence of employment discrimination by Tyrone County Council.
    It is fair to note that Newry Urban District, which is controlled by non-Unionists, employed very few Protestants. But two wrongs do not make a right; Protestants who are in the minority in the Newry area, by contrast to the other areas we have specified, do not have a serious unemployment problem, and in Newry there are relatively few Protestants, whereas in the other towns Catholics make up a substantial part of the population. It is also right to note that in recent years both Londonderry and Newry have introduced a competitive examination system in local authority appointments.”
    Cameron Report, Paragraph 138, 1969
    Northern Ireland. Parliament. (1969) Disturbances in Northern Ireland [Cameron Report], (Cmd. 532), (September 1969). Belfast: HMSO.

    “In the first fifty years of the Northern Ireland state there is considerable evidence of just such a broad pattern of bias. This has been most closely examined in relation to local authorities, and there is overwhelming evidence that some local authorities practised discriminatory employment policy, and allocated the houses under their control in a sectarian fashion and for the electoral advantage of the dominant party. Practices also occurred at the Stormont level which demonstrate a deliberate bias against members of the minority community. There is a body of evidence that emergency powers were operated in a discriminatory fashion, and that both the administration of justice and the use of the police force were subjected to political pressures. Perhaps the clearest instances of all, however, are those relating to public employees and appointments to public bodies. Whether it applied to the employment of dustmen by Fermanagh County Council, to promotion in the civil service or to judicial appointments, there is a consistent and irrefutable pattern of deliberate discrimination against Catholics.”
    Darby, John. (1976), Conflict in Northern Ireland: The Development of a Polarised Community. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.

    “The unionist government must bear its share of responsibility. It put through the original gerrymander which underpinned so many of the subsequent malpractices, and then, despite repeated protests, did nothing to stop those malpractices continuing. The most serious charge against the Northern Ireland government is not that it was directly responsible for widespread discrimination, but that it allowed discrimination on such a scale over a substantial segment of Northern Ireland.”
    Whyte, John. (1983) ‘How Much Discrimination was there Under the Unionist Regime, 1921-1968?’, in, Gallagher, T., and J. O’Connell (eds.) Contemporary Irish Studies. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    The overall statistics don’t lie. You are cherry picking a single incident.

  • Damien Mullan

    “When fair protest morphed into armed paramilitary attacks as it did in 1969-70, you could no longer talk of events in N Ireland being simply the fault of the government or a system in need of reform. You now had organisations like the IRA out there with a whole agenda of their own, making the weather.”

    And the Paisley-ites, they didn’t have an agenda? The man worked indirectly in a pincer movement with the PIRA to bring down Sunningdale, and tried his damndest to do the same to the Anglo-Irish Agreement as well as the Good Friday Agreement.

    You know it really wasn’t the PIRA that Paisley and his unionists hated most, it was this phantom threat from the Irish government. Unionists, could at the drop of a hat, assemble on mass to berate and lambaste the Irish government, but peace marches, well they had to be left up to a catholic and protestant homemaker.

    It was the ‘Irish’, in the Irish government, that got up their back teeth. This idea that you’re propagating that only unionists were concerned by the suffering and destruction, and not at all concerned about the politics, is simply not born out by the facts.

    Unionists didn’t sit back inert and take what the PIRA threw, they threw back just as hard, they used loyalists, both murder gangs and unionised workers, to tear apart settlements, coupled with British Army massacres to worsen things more. Unionists were party to the cycle of violence and mayhem, as much as other actors, politics, and in this part of the world that is sectarian in nature, was always to the fore. Because if it was all about stopping the violence, then why the reticence and hostility to the Irish government’s involvement, if it was all about saving as many lives as possible and flinging every available door open to achieve that, then why the opposition to Dublin, if it wasn’t a passive aggressive attack against nationalists and nationalism, against Irish identity, against the affinity northern nationalists had for those throughout the island.

    The constitutional issue was on the minds of unionists throughout The Troubles as much as it was on the minds of republicans, regardless of the lives lost in-between.

  • Damien Mullan

    In recent times loyalist feuds have seen more loyalists killed than those within dissident republican groups.

  • Zeno3

    No worries. If it helps any I don’t care either.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I completely agree and argue strongly myself we are two peoples not one. And it begs the question, where does that leave 32 county Irish nationalism as an idea? So much blood spilt trying to pretend two peoples are really one. An ‘idealism’ that is actually about wanting one ethnie on the island to triumph over and subdue the other. It does seem a busted flush now that we all accept each other as equals and accept our rights to be different.

    I realised quite early in my life that shared identity can’t be championed at the cost of letting people define their own identities – and can’t be the basis on which we get on. We can only get on by accepting each other’s difference. Pluralism is the way. So when I meet a nationalist from NI I assume (until I sense they feel otherwise) that we don’t share a nationality and that we will almost certainly have different senses of the place we come from, its story and our own stories. Sometimes there are shared understandings, sometimes not. I’m completely comfortable with us not having a shared identity and being of different nationalities. In that NI is like many border regions around the world where people of differe

  • grumpy oul man

    And here we see a typical unionist reaction, when confronted with a unpleasent fact, a “ism” is resorted to, this time it sexism but secterism or rascism will do just as well.
    The wonder of it all is that the unionists in general don’t seem to nderstand that this tactic is what makes the DUP(and by extension the community that voted for them) contemptible to others outside that mindset, you have only to look at how the British have reacted when the DUP stepped out of the shadows in westminister.
    Oh james a few days ago you made several claims about senior members of SF being involved in organised crime and when asked for proof you disappeared, since your back could we see the proof.

  • grumpy oul man

    And the UDA/UVF come out in support of the DUP and work with them but you obviously dont see how this comments on the relationship between the DUP and terrorists.
    They do come out with mealy mouthed statements (as you do) about loyalist terror but their actions show were they really stand and as always that is right beside the terror groups.
    But in your narritive that never happened.

  • Damien Mullan

    I can’t fault a word you have written above.

    Democracy will be the only truly authentic ‘guiding star’, to borrow a phrase from Mrs Foster, in which we can process these issues and ultimately abide by the outcomes. Though undoubtedly there will always be resentment and animosity, perhaps even violence, as potentially in the case of loyalists in a reunified scenario, something nationalism will have to entertain, a reunification vote might well be followed by a period of violence, that nationalism, north and south, must harden and resolve itself for and the potential loss of life that will have to be endured by Irish security and state forces.

    Because just as nationalism’s desire for reunification was undiminished and unquenchable in the post partitioning of the island, so unionism and loyalism will maintain its political bearing as a separate and distinct facet in a post reunified Ireland, that is something that nationalists will have to reckon with and bear the costs.

    It’s quite true, there is no shared identity, neither nationalism or unionism can encompass a shared identity, it’s oxymoronic to suggest so.

    I’ve always believed that there are definable centrifugal tenets to Irish nationalism. One being Catholicism, though more latterly in recent times Cultural Catholicism. As an Irish nationalist who happens to be both gay and atheist this might seem odd, indeed odd for many Irish people who face the ire of church doctrine, but that is to separate Catholic doctrine from its powerful cultural value, of arguably the worlds oldest global pan-national, pan-continental organisation, its a familiarity and comfort born out of universal rituals that one can see witnessed in churches from France, to Spain, to Argentina, to the Philippines, this global universal community that broadens one’s global horizons, but it also empathizes the distinct and unique separateness in the context of this island and these islands.

    Then there is Cultural Nationalism, in this I mean an appreciation for the Irish Language, Gaelic Games, Irish Literature, and latterly, since the end of censorship, Irish authorship, as distinct from solely an Irish Literary cannon bound up in Irish mythology and history. Again, even though I can’t speak Irish, nor do I play or often watch Gaelic Games, I do have an appreciation for their distinctness, their separateness, there power to bind Irish people together and emphasise an authentic Irishness. A pan-nationalist support for these cultural components, across Irish nationalism, provides solidarity and cohesion to the whole Irish nation, it enriches and provides for authentic Irish experiences, available at the point of use for all Irish inclined to utilize them, so that although I have no immediate plans to learn Irish, it is sufficiently alive and provided for that should I wish to partake I can, similarly with Gaelic Games.

    It is from these core tenets, in which Irishness and Irish nationalism is secure and comfortable, which allows the openness to entertain new cultures and ideas, sufficient that they are not an existential threat to the central core elements of Irish identity. This is how I view the Irish ease with the influx of developing world immigration since the mid 1990’s onward. There is a sure footedness in Irish nationalism that allows this magnanimous and welcoming approach, as these are changes that orbit the central core, that to not disrupt the central tenets.

    That is why I can understand in an identity in which people feel besieged these inclinations are not easy and at times not possible.

  • grumpy oul man

    So how many would unionists ave to kill before you regarded it as wrong.
    We know its more than 70 as that is the number killed by UR guns and you dont believe that the UR was anything but a joke.
    How about the 38 murdered by loyalists as they worked with the DUP to bring down a compromise goverment.
    Does the discrimination that brought about the civil rights movement count or the unionist approved murder and burnings to prevent equality not count.
    I do love how you manage to turn history in a simplistic mathematical equation! With absoulity no regard to what led up to the period and no regard as to unionisms opposition (more often than not violent) to any attempt of compromise.
    Tell us do you apply the same simple sum to the rest of history, just asking and looking at the history of the British empire,

  • Zeno3

    ” In support of the Bogsiders, nationalists and Catholics launched protests elsewhere in Northern Ireland. Some of these led to attacks by loyalists working alongside the police.”

    “Protests”? There are other versions of the same story by people who were there.

  • Damien Mullan

    I assumed you read the comments sections below of Malachi O’Doherty’s ‘recollections’ and his responses to them. I happen to like this insightful nugget to the potential fragility of memory as against contemporaneous eyewitness accounts that O’Doherty refers to himself.

    “I should perhaps have put myself forward as a witness to Scarman. I thought about it and concluded that there would be plenty of others available to describe the events. I haven’t checked what I saw against the Scarman report. maybe I should. maybe I would find that it is wrong in some details.”

    I happen to agree, maybe Malachi should have a check.

    As I was born in 1985 I obviously have no contemporaneous recollection of these events at the beginning of The Troubles. I have only my father’s recollections of these times in Derry, but thankfully the arrival of the internet and social media allows a greater plurality of recollections and accounts to be made available, can only thank the rigorous folks who post to Malachi O’Doherty’s site for their invaluable insights and information, espeically ‘juno jones’, for expanding my education in this area.

  • The Irishman

    Well said DM.

  • The Irishman

    Excellent post grumpy.

  • The Irishman

    Excellent post DM.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I can’t disgree with a lot of that either! Interesting thoughts, thanks.

  • Starviking

    Hi Seaan,

    Sorry for the delay in replying – I had a seminar to prepare for and run. I’ll see if I can source the Parkinson book, and look for the McMahon murders paper too.

    I’ll try and get a more detailed response to the details in your post, but that will take at least a week.


  • SeaanUiNeill

    Don’t worry, I’m snowed under with the changes to a book introduction myself. Which is why my comments are sparse currently on Slugger, despite temptations. Tim Wilson’s article is probably the best work currently available on the Pogroms.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Nothing ever stops at a simple “who paid for it”? Zeno. If you take into account that the wealth which built Belfast came in its roots from the Plantation, and later from its child, the Empire, then “who paid for it ?”becomes far, far more complicated a matter. The dispossessed Irish? the Mughal India? The slave trade? All played a part, but simply stopping at the Linen barons, or the British, is very one dimensional.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And, MU, many of those Irish who survived the trenches died by targeted sectarian murder in the Belfast Pogroms. The spiritual descendants of the mobs of 1920/22 are now using the poppy as a badge of their Britishness. You simply cannot stop analysing this at the simple idea that it is any more neutral than the symbols you critique as polluted by Republican violence. I am proud of what my family did in two world wars and resent the manner in which I am inhibited in wearing a poppy in NI by its identification locally with Unionist violence.