Wednesday, August 01, 2007

“The End of a Dark Chapter”

So says the headline in Spiegel. It refers to the fact that the British military are withdrawing from Northern Ireland, as of midnight, July 31st, BST.

Map of Ireland
August 1st, 2007 will be a red-letter day.

If you want an Irish interpretation (not a Northern Irish [Scots] Protestant view, of course) the headline would really say: “Finally the Hated Strangers are Leaving.”

A friend of mine has a very old book of rules, one handed down from her relatives, on how the Irish peasants were to be treated by their Anglo-Irish landlords. The rules appear to have much in common with the treatment of American slaves before the Emancipation Proclamation.

But now the soldiers are leaving the North:

The longest deployment of troops in the history of the British military ends at midnight, when the army’s operation in Northern Ireland officially comes to an end. But the 38-year-long deployment will be seen as one of the darkest chapters in the army’s history.

To what circumstance do Belfast’s Catholics owe this peculiar liberation? Have the English suddenly become enlightened? Hardly. Generations ago, they deliberately moved their own northern peoples into Ireland to take over the land from the Irish peasants. They systematically destroyed all Irish birth and baptismal records and land deeds. Now, centuries later, with so many of the original Irish families extinct, fled, or imprisoned and exiled from a green land that the British repeatedly laid waste, there would be few left to “give” it back to.

No, the Brits sail away for other, more pragmatic reasons:
- - - - - - - - - -
The official reason is that the situation in Northern Ireland is sufficiently stable for such measures to be taken. The real reason is the lack of recruits. More than 12,000 soldiers are stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The British military’s Chief of the General Staff, General Richard Dannatt, said in a secret memorandum that was leaked to the press that the military is overstretched: “We now have almost no capacity to react to the unexpected.”

However, the seeds of destruction planted so long ago by the English will continue to bear their poisonous fruit:

The Protestant militias have not yet handed over their weapons. The week before last, a policeman was critically injured during an internal feud.

Although it is less complete than the Jewish Diaspora, the Irish migration away from the boot of the English served to carry us across the face of the earth. But we brought with us in our DNA an ineradicable memory of that cruel and callous foot on our necks.

Those people destroyed parts of Ireland; they also wasted the lives of their own English boys — all in a vain attempt to bring the Irish to their knees.

Ireland still stands.


showhank said...

OK, what is your point here? If it's to illustrate the plight of the UK Army I can understand, but if we are going to highlight and celebrate our own divisions among the West is this not counterproductive? I think the real enemy now is Islam. Let's worry about fighting each other when that war is over.

nimbus said...

It all seems such a sad waste looking back. Now, faced with Islam, we know how much we all have in common. Sad to think of Western European Christians attacking other Western European Christians. It is a lesson we have yet to learn. I hope we do before it is too late.

Dymphna said...

I am taking a day to celebrate the exit of the British soldiers from Ireland. *That* is my point here. Too bad there will be any remaining, but at least I can see a possible light at the end of the tunnel.

Just because the long history of England's genocidal butchery in Ireland doesn't touch your little world on Showhank Hill doesn't mean the beginning of the end is not a satisfying event for some of us.

As a first generation Irish-American I am lighting a candle to mark the wondrous occasion.

Dymphna said...


'Tis sad indeed. But the English just had to have it all.

Vol-in-Law said...

Us Ulstermen (Scots-Irish) are still there though - the attempt at ethnic cleansing by you Irish failed.

I agree with the commenter above that highlighting these divisions between us isn't very helpful.

Nex said...

I've been coming here for quite a while and have always been a little dismayed at the difference in style and mind between Baron's and Dymphna's posts. I've ended-up reading mainly Baron's posts and pretty-much ignoring Dymphna's. Her latest merely reinforces the thing. Venomous hatred of Brits? Sorry, out of place; a measured analysis it was not. Nex

X said...

It touched my world. They set off a bomb in my city. Forgive me if I have little sympathy.

Subvet said...

While I don't share your elation, I understand it. The depredations of the English were kept alive in the memories of my father's family for generations (they came over here during the 1850's). That alone is a measure of what was endured.

The reason I don't share the feeling is simple. My father felt it was long past time to be wholly American. For that reason I was raised to be completely "Americanized". His sentiments were NOT echoed by the rest of his family.

But I DO understand your feelings.

Unknown said...

They should never have sent in the Parachute Regiment, just made things worse for everyone. I mostly just fell a sort of weary resignation but it's good that they're leaving. God Save Ireland as the songs says.

Panday said...

I'm a non-Irish, non-British American, so I don't have a dog in this particular fight.

However, the British have been the US's ally for over a hundred years, including through two world wars, Korea, and both Gulf Wars. Ireland, on the other hand, raised volunteer regiments for the Kaiser, and maintained a benign neutrality toward Hitler.

Pardon me for siding with my friends, but what has Ireland ever done for the US? Allowing refugees to emigrate doesn't qualify as friendship.

Shannon said...

I've just finished reading a couple of new accounts of Cromwell's Irish campaign -- that of course being one of the foundational "atrocities" in Republicaon historiography. Turns out much of the "accepted narrative" -- eg, the "victims" of the "massacre of Drogheda" were largely Anlgo-Irish Protestant Royalists. By the brutal standards of the time -- the Thirty Years War was just winding down on the continent -- Cromwell, Puritan despiser of Papists though he was, was fairly merciful.

My point? Ireland is a wonderful country. The Irish are wonderful people with a brilliant, fantastic culture. In New York City, where I live, they are the "strong backbone" of the NYPD and FDNY. And let's not forget the Poguues and the Dropkick Murphys! -- so Ireland has lots to celebrate without trotting out the tired, and dishonest, Republican tropes of the brutal Sassenach and English boot, which drinks deeply from the well of lefty oppression/liberation. You could make an equally valid argument that the Catholic Irish peasantry differed little than those in other Catholic countries, like Spain or Italy -- that it's more a function of Catholicism, which lacks the organizing ability of Protestantism as seen in the Netherlands and England.


Shannon said...

I've just finished reading a couple of new accounts of Cromwell's Irish campaign -- that of course being one of the foundational "atrocities" in Republicaon historiography. Turns out much of the "accepted narrative" were manufactured during the anti-Cromwellians during the Restoration, and several nationalist priests in the 19th C. For instance, the "victims" of the "massacre of Drogheda"weren't a bunch of wee wimmen and children, but Anlgo-Irish Protestant Royalists. By the brutal standards of the time -- the Thirty Years War was just winding down on the continent -- Cromwell, Puritan despiser of Papists though he was, was fairly merciful.

My point? Ireland is a wonderful country. The Irish are wonderful people with a brilliant, fantastic culture. In New York City, where I live, they are the "strong backbone" of the NYPD and FDNY. And let's not forget the Poguues and the Dropkick Murphys! -- so Ireland has lots to celebrate without trotting out the tired, and dishonest, Republican tropes of the brutal Sassenach and English boot, which drinks deeply from the well of lefty oppression/liberation. (You could make an equally valid argument that the Catholic Irish peasantry differed little than those in other Catholic countries, like Spain or Italy -- that it's more a function of Catholicism, which lacks the organizing ability of Protestantism as seen in the Netherlands and England.)

Chris Bering said...

Maybe I need a history lesson, but isn't the conflict in Northern Ireland about catholics wanting to get rid of the "newcomers" that has only been there for a few centuries - and the protestants refusing to die or flee ?

I was under the impression that the English peace keeping force treated both sides equally ?

Maybe perceptions among catholics suffer because of the fact that the English peace keepers are protestant ? Or is it because the great-great-...-great grand fathers of the catholics suffered at the hands of the great-great-...-great grand fathers of the English soldiers ?

For the sake of the viking crew on the "Sea Stallion", I hope grudges don't live forever on the Green Isle.

But it's a common problem for all peace keepers, that they have to work hard not to be seen as taking sides.

If Ireland had an army and had been willing to deploy it as a peace keeping force, would that have cooled catholic sentiments - shortening the conflict ?

It's a moot point though. The only real alternative was a UN force.
Would they have been better at stopping the killings and bring peace ?

ziontruth said...

Oh, what a minefield Dymphna has stepped to with this post. In my opinion.

Go back ten years ago, when I was still a lefty, hippified peacenik. One of my causes celebres (sp?): the Native Americans. An obsession with reading about the history of North America and castigating the Americans of the Old World for dispossessing the indigenous.

Go forward three years from then: my first experience, on an online forum, of being told I was dispossessing the indigenous just like the cowboys had done.

Take care lest your climbing on a high horse lead you to being impaled on your own sword. Idealism is good, but a moderate dose of self-interest is necessary in order not to be swept in the winds of the Zeitgeist, winds that may well turn against you.

Echoing other commenters: I'll take on Islam today, thank you.

Panday said...

I've ended-up reading mainly Baron's posts and pretty-much ignoring Dymphna's.

To be fair, I've found Dymphna to be a pretty good writer, especially when she muses on certain topics.

This topic, however, isn't one of her best. Ireland has never done a damned thing for the US. I guess if allowing emigrants to depart were the measure of friendship, then Mexico would be the US's best ally in the world.

Britain, on the other hand, has been our friend for a century.

I'll side with my friends every time.

Anonymous said...

"England's genocidal butchery"? Blah blah blah. I don't have a dog in that fight--although I'm descended from both English and Scots-Irish, my family has been in America many generations and consider ourselves American and American only--I haven't been very sympathetic to the Irish of late. There are many Irish illegals in America who feel entitled to American citizenship, and who fought for amnesty for themselves along with 20 million others. You'd have thought that they would have acknowledged the danger of giving amnesty to so many Third World immigrants, but the Irish in America didn't care, so long as they got amnesty, too! That finished any romance I'd ever had about Ireland.

Dymphna, I usually like your writing, but your anti-UK, pro-Irish agitprop makes me sick. Look at Irish Voices below to see what your Irish kin are trying to inflict on the USA. I wouldn't mind putting a boot on an Irish neck myself about right now.

I R A Darth Aggie said...

What, precisely, have the Brits done for us? other than getting us involved in two wars with Germany?

X said...

I should add, for the record, that I hold little sympathy for Cromwell either. He is hardly a shining example of protestant christian values, and was quite happy to destroy anything beautiful if it was proven to have papist influences on it.

It might also be worth mentioning that I have only to go back a single generation to find family in Ireland, that being the republic and not the 6 counties. I have cousins over there who I still need to visit, and my mother's family were all catholic to varying degrees. I hold little sympathy for the republican movement, who never intended any sort of "liberation" but simply wanted to kill people who weren't like them. The only reason our forces were there for this long is because the republicans weren't satisfied with having the Irish republic, they wanted to drive out the protestant ulster scots in the north completely, and take their land in to the Irish republic, against the wishes of the majority population. The simple truth is, our army remained there because the republicans kept blowing things up.

I apologise if I sound like I'm engaging in a little ancestral one-upmanship here but I think that distance from the cause célebre often makes people more likely to support it without considering the consequences of that support. Almost with fail, the bigegst supporters of the republican movement have been foreigners and descendents of Irish expatriots, whilst any native Irish I speak to are sick and tired of the whole thing. They don't care about the 'hated' english (As long as you don't mention Churchill, whom they despise) and would prefer the IRA to slink off in to the shadows and stop being so damn obsessive.

I've heard it said a few times, "when the last one of us faces the last one of them over the ruins of belfast, victory will go to the survivor." That's the level they're at. Hardly an enthusiastic endorsement of the republican cause.

Apologies again if you've taken offense at this, Dymphna. In this instance I simply have to say that I think you're cheering the wrong side.

darth aggie: asking a question like that simply demonstrates a woeful lack of historical knowledge. We have our faults, as do all peoples, but to reduce us to being the proximate cause of the two Great Wars is rather rude I think.

mikej said...

A quarter of my ancestors were Catholic Irishmen. I expect that I'd be a bomb thrower if I'd had the misfortune to be born in Belfast. Luckily for me, my Irish ancestors had the good sense to come to America, so I regard the Ulster conflict as someone else's problem.

I wonder, D, how you reconcile your opinions on Ulster and Iraq. Ulster is, in fact, a part of the United Kingdom. That's why the British Army spent 38 years trying to hang on to it. But now they're withdrawing with the job undone, as you point out.

I can't imagine that our fellow Americans are going to spend 38 years trying to pacify Iraq, especially if the mission remains an altruistic one. I expect Iraq to disintegrate moments after our troops withdraw, however much time, blood, and treasure we waste there. Wouldnt' it make sense to cut our losses?

Exile said...

Let's not forget, that when given the chance, Ulster VOTED to remain part of the United Kingdom, thus becoming Northern Ireland. Munster, Minster and Connaught voted to form the Republic. Eire.

In my two tours in Ulster, (one with a battalion from the parachute regiment)we were as eager to bring down the protestant terrorists as we were the catholics.

I am personally glad that the violence has ended. I am glad that a semblance of normal civilian life has come to that once shattered province.

One memeory sticks out in my mind above all others.
An old woman passed by me on the street in the staunchly republican catholic Falls Road area, she lowered her head a little and said, quietly, "God bless you." She apparently didn't see me as an occupier.

It appeared to me, that the problem with Belfast, was Belfast itself.
The vast majority were fine people.

Make no mistake, I am as pleased about this as I was over the bringing down of the Berlin wall.

My best wishes to the people of Northern Ireland. Let peace be yours.

BikerDad said...

Dymphna's post, or more accurately, the tone of her post, the stockpiling and memory of centuries of offense, is another example of that great evil, unforgiveness. Sorry, but carrying a grudge for what's been done to people centuries ago is the province of barbarians. Perhaps that's why the Muslims are so good at it.

I always thought that St. Patrick taught the Irish better.

Dymphna said...

Biker dad--

THat's what makes us Irish so much like the Muslims: tribal, shame-based, xenophobic, and intolerant.

henry the fifth said...

Dymphna indulges in a point of view that is more prevalent ( it would seem) in the US than in's the vicious Brits (read English...we don't want to tar the Scots, Welsh, Ulster men with same brush) who are standing on the throat of the poor down trodden Irish. Far from being some sort of latter day nazi occupying force, the "British" have wanted to extracate themselves from the Irish problem for a long time. It's because the various parties invovled(Republican/Nationalist...Unionists...Brithish Govt) have come to some sort of political agreement that allows them to pursue their agenda's ( republican/unionist) without the use of terror. If the British army had pulled out , unilaterally, there would have almost certainly have been a civil war in Northern Ireland and how long before that would have spread into the South? Think I'm fantasising....ask connor Cruise O'brien.
I'm sympathetic to the cause of Irish unification , but to reduce it to the simplistic scenario described by Dymphna gets my hackles up. Oh...and to the poster who said that it was the Parachute regiment that caused so much trouble (Bloody Sunday etc)...well I'm part Scottish and once, feeling the heat being the only English man in a room of Catholic Scots said that I was "Celtic" father served in the famous Scottish regiment, the Black Watch. Big mistake...turns out that the "protestant" Scottish Black Watch were the regiment most loathed by the the Irish northern catholics...not the "english" parachute regiment.

henry the fifth said...

Oh...and another thing Dymphna...the Brits haven't sailed away....the Unionist protestants...who make up the majority of the people of Northern Ireland are British technically and psychologically. I think you'll find that they won't be leaving anytime soon

Tim said...

DYMPHA: What unmitigated codswallop. The IRA terrorists were indiscriminately attacking innocent women and children in their blood-lust to kill Northern Irish Protestants. The British army was there to protect civilians from those maniacal terrorists. The six northern counties voted to remain part of the UK don't forget. What did you want, all the people who had lived there for 600 years to get up and move? And look who remained neutral in WWII and re-supplied and gave aid and comfort to the German Nazi fascists. Handy that the IRA was, according to the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, associated with FARC and they have also been accused of connections with Hezbollah and Hamas. Their bombs were discovered in Jenin when the Israelis cleared out that viper nest. IRA operatives were known to be on the payroll of the Cuban Communist party. It goes on and on and on. My grandparents left in 1930 because they were sick of both sides. She was from Dublin and he from near Belfast but they loved each other and made a wonderful life together in Canada. They moved on. If they could do it then you should move on too.

Yorkshireminer said...

There is a lot of emotional drivel talked about the Irish English relationship. I think the whole thing is a little more prosaic. I can't remember which film I saw where a Mafia mobster said just before he killed his victim “it's not personal it is just business”, this is the way we should look at it. On hindsight as an Englishman and looking at it as objectively as I can. I see the problem between the two counties as a geographical one. Ireland is strategically placed on the wrong side of Britain. Ireland covers Britain's back door. Who ever controls that back door controls Britain. England's foreign policy virtually from time England emerged as a united country under one king was to stop any of the European great powers from controlling the estuaries of the Rhine and the Shelde. As a nation we have been very lucky that the wind blows most out of the west if it had been the other way round we would have been conquered many times. A good West wind was known in my young days as a protestant wind and it is easy to see why, the Flat east anglian landscape gives easy egress to an invader and coast has no decent harbors from the Thames Estuary to the Humber some 200 miles, while a grand fleet could easily sit sheltered in the Schelde waiting for a good east wind. They could then have sailed across the North Sea and landed an Army before the British Navy could have gotten out of port. When this policy failed and large European powers controlled these two rivers. The Spanish During the early part of the 80 year war the French under Napoleon. They usually tried to get in the front door, then tried the back door, Ireland. They all landed armies which were defeated usually by a motley mix of foreign regiments Danes Dutch and German with a few Scots and English thrown in. We never had at any time in our history apart from the last two world wars a large standing Army. Armies tend to meddle in Politics, Navies don't. Is it any wonder we tended to hold down the Irish with repression and the big stick, and the retribution that was dealt out to the Irish that supported those foreign armies was so brutal. The loss of Ireland would have meant the lose of Britain. I am sorry Ireland it is nothing personal it was just business.

I could of cause write a lot more, give chapter and verse to argue my point but that would take a book. The religious question only exacerbated the strategic problem and one should not look on it as a purely Catholic verses Protestant problem. Wolfe Tone who lead the United Irishmen in the 1798 rebellion was protestant by the way. We would have hung him, if he hadn't have committed, suicide so we English can't be accused of partiality.

It would also be nice if the Irish would forget their Myths especially the famine of the 1840s. How the English were exporting grain from Ireland etc, etc, it most likely did happen, but the potato blight was over all. It is a little known fact but 100,000 English died because the potato crop failed in England at the same time the only reason more English did not die is because potatoes were not the staple subsistence crop. 200,000 in the Rhineland died, this and the failed revolution of 1849 is one of the reason so many Germans like the Irish emigrated to America around this time. I wonder what the Scots would be calling us now if it had been an Oats Blight and the Potato Blight had never happened.

Myths and sentiment can also exacerbated a problem for the home country, especially if they are continued in communities that have emigrated, and have no real contact with the home land. The IRA were actively soliciting and receiving fund from the large Irish Emigre community in America. The consequences of this were quiet catastrophic. Let me speak from personal experience. Some good friends of my parents lost a daughter in the “TAVEN IN THE TOWN” pub bombings in Birmingham in 1974. the Blast from the bomb was very devastating. The pub was in a cellar and one went down into it, down a flight of steps . When the bomb went off the blast not being able to escape went up the steps and blew out the windows of a double decker bus. She was 21 and had gone down there after finishing work to plan her wedding with her boy friend. I don't think there was much left for the parents to bury. My parents went to her funeral, . With a bit of luck she would have been a Granny now. Things hit a little closer to home, early in 1976 I was visiting friends in Notting Hill Gate in London and we had gone into the West end for an evening out. The IRA explode about 12 small bombs in the West End that night. I can't remember if anybody was injured I remember seeing one flash and hearing the explosions getting fainter as we made our way along the Bayswater Rd. The other example which really did hit home, was when I went to visit some friends on their boat in St. Katherine's Dock near the Tower of London some time in 1984. She was an Irish catholic. Her husband by the way had impeccable W.A.S.P credentials. They were crying. She had just received a telegram telling her that her father had be killed by the IRA. His crime it seems was that he was a catholic and serving in the Ulster Police force.

I have often wished that those Irish-Americans or is it American-Irish or is it just Americans with an anti British agenda who supplied the money so that the IRA could commit these atrocities had choked on a bone at one those fund raising diners that were so prevalent in the Boston area in the 1970s.

I am certainly pleased that we moved most of our troops out after after 38 years but they were there basically to keep the two sides from killing each other. It doesn't make any difference Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom and they can be moved back just as quickly, both sides seem to have come to the conclusion that it is a lose lose situation and have stopped the killing, it is certainly no victory for one side or the other. Like you Dymphna, I rejoice, perhaps not for the same reason, I also wonder what will happen when the muslims in Belfast start to demand Home rule, march through the streets, with a shamrock in their turbans, demanding in an Irish Brogue that the filthy British oppressors of Irish Muslims go home. Would you feel the same then, as you do now about us leaving?

Truculent Sheep said...

The fact that the IRA ended up at the negotiating table is proof enough they lost.

Or to put it another way, if all those stupid Americans didn't donate so much money to the provos via NORAID in the 70s and 80s, how many more people might still be alive today?

True, the IRA also got a lot of funding from selling drugs, as did many 'Loyalist' gangs, and they all still run 'their' neighbourhoods like the Crips and the Bloods run their 'Hoods, but never let that fact get in the way of yet more dewy-eyed, harp-in-the-background Fenian sentimentality.

It's all worth remembering the next time you're fuming - quite justifiably - about the Saudis funding Wahibism and Terrorists, yes?

Stephen Gash said...

The usual anti-English crap, and the usual conflation of British with English.

If English people had actually been asked whether Northern Ireland should leave the United Kingdom, it would have been independent decades if not generations ago.

The English people are never asked about anything, and their patience is wearing mighty thin.

Jungle Jim said...

Dymphna, look at this pic I took of graffiti on Falls Road in the catholic section of Belfast back in April:

Thats who the IRA have been allied with. They are a marxist terrorist organization who have had ties to other terrorist groups including Baader-Meinhof, Italy's Red Brigade, and many of the islamofascist groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah.

Not even the voters in the Rpublic of Ireland have any sympathy for Sinn Fein/IRA. In the recent elections they gave them a resounding defeat.

hank_F_M said...


May I suggest an alternative explanation.

From St Valentines Day in 1662 when Monck's Regiment of Foot (now the Coldstream Guard) laid down it’s arms as Parlementary troops and picked them up as Royal troops, there has only been one year (1968) when no British soldier was killed in action. What happened in 1969?

The IRA stared a campaign against the British government. Well beyond the ability of the local police the Army was called in to reinforce them. Except for normal peace time garrison, mostly the home base of troops recruited in Northern Ireland, the British Army was not deployed in Northern Ireland.
The “troubles” this time had a very different factor than previous troubles. The IRA while claiming to represent the Catholoic population it recruited from was (is) actually a Marxist attempt to take over Ireland. The legitimate grievances of the Catholic population being no more than an excuse. A religious war only in the sense that if they won they would have imposed atheism on both the Catholic and Protestant populations.

The withdrawal represents the effective defeat of the IRA’ campaign to turn Ireland into a (Third International) Socialist paradise..Of course one would not expect Spiegel to point that out. Yes: Ireland still stands! Praise be to God. He can even use the British Army to protect his people, Catholic and Protestant

Dymphna said...

The modern IRA were and are scum.
I don't need to see graffiti to know that.

And no relative of mine ever gave them money.

Currently the Republic of Ireland is liberal and anti-American and anti-semitic.

However, during the Easter Uprising my grandfather (an AMerican) was put in gaol in Dublin. The other one, born in Dublin, was too. One of them named their daugher Ellen Sein Fein...back when that was a proud and hopeful name. Neither was guilty of anything, but the British cast a wide, indiscriminate net and they were brutal.

During WWII there were many Nazi sympathizers in southern Ireland as a result.

Meanwhile, the Catholic church succeeded in making the country anti-clerical. What an albatross *it* was.

Perhaps if Britain had not felt impelled to use the country as a place to send the Scots and the surplus sons of the nobility, northern Ireland would not be a colony and her GDP would compare favorably with that of the Republic. Unfortunately, northern Ireland is saddled with the failed economic ideas of Britain and the resulting high taxes.

Fortunately for the Irish and English who survived the penal colony in Australia, Britain's socialism never took root. What didn't kill them made them stronger.

I remain glad the British are gone.

And it makes me proud that Ireland, warts and all, still stands.

Above all I'm glad for 1916.

History Snark said...

I'm another one with no dog in this fight, but I have a few observations. First off, my Dad told me a few years back about a talk he had with an Irish Catholic friend. Apparently, according to his friend, during the building of the Titanic, the English and Scots workers used to amuse themselves by flinging hot rivets at the "Micks".

I also recall a line in "The Eagle has Landed", wherein one of the characters, an IRA hero, comments that if you believe in your cause and it's a just one, you should stand on your hind legs and fight like a man. As opposed to bombing innocent women and children. I always thought that was a good rule, and still do.

I also recall when I was in high school, we had two teachers that were Irish. One of them, a woman, was a Protestant. The other was male and militantly Catholic and Republican. Supposedly he once told a friend of my sister to write something in Gaelic on the chalkboard in the other teacher's classroom. She did it when the room was empty. It turned out to be an IRA motto. The teacher was not even remotely amused. But then I don't imagine she liked the fact of his supporting the IRA either.

I will say one thing for the "rebels": They came out with some great songs over the centuries. Of course, they all turn defeats into victory, and slaughter into glory. But I guess that's the way to recruit others to "die for Ireland".

Also, I've talked to people over the years who maintain that, in the 1970s and 1980s especially, the discrimination against Catholics in the North was astounding. No jobs, no security, etc. True or false?

Finally, a question that has long bothered me: As several of the commenters note, the 6 counties voted to remain in "Britain" rather than become part of the Republic. How is that a legitimate outcome? Isn't that roughly similar to the voters of, say, California, announcing that they didn't vote for Bush, and therefore they are going to only recognize Kerry as President? It seems to me that you have to take the vote of the whole country as one, or it's not really legitimate. So can someone explain why I'm wrong?

All that being said, I remember once taking a stab at explaining the whole conflict: Here's what I came up with. In essence the conflict was "I'm Catholic and my ancestors have lived here for a 1000 years, but you're Protestant and your ancestors have only lived here for hundreds of years. Therefore, we have to kill each other."

And vice versa, of course.

In the end, it seems to all come down to another theory of mine (and I have lots of them): The bloodiest battles are fought by those people who are the most similar, over something completely invisible to an outsider.

Vol-in-Law said...

"I also wonder what will happen when the muslims in Belfast start to demand Home rule, march through the streets, with a shamrock in their turbans, demanding in an Irish Brogue that the filthy British oppressors of Irish Muslims go home. Would you feel the same then, as you do now about us leaving? "

Unlikely - the Catholic Irish don't suffer from post-colonial guilt, and although their elite is cultural-Marxist, the bulk of the Irish are a lot more willing to be
hostile to Muslims than are the British. Muslims may hate Britain but they're aware it's a shield under which Islam can thrive and grow, whereas Ireland is aware of its vulnerability.

Vol-in-Law said...

"Isn't that roughly similar to the voters of, say, California, announcing that they didn't vote for Bush, and therefore they are going to only recognize Kerry as President?"

A better analogy would be that most of California votes to leave the USA and join Mexico, and the US govt agrees, but San Francisco votes to remain in the USA and the USA agrees to that too. Would it be illegitimate for part of California to remain in the US if the rest left?

X said...

The apparent anomaly arose because of the various treatied signed to create the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. At the time the counties that had a majority protestant population were given the choice of joining the Irish Free State, which was majority catholic, or remaining part of the United Kingdom. 3 of them chose to join the irish state whilst the other 6 cose to remain British. This status was incorporated in to the treaties, which created both states and gave them home rule with their own parliaments. The end result was the creation of the Irish Republic.

Northern Ireland had home rule up until the early 70s, which is when the IRA's bloody campaign was reaching its height. The British sent in their army, dissolved the parliament and implemented a form of martial law in an attempt to prevent the IRA from carrying on their attacks. By and large it worked, as the majority of their resources were tied up trying to drive the British army out of northern ireland, which meant that they couldn't carry out as many bombing campaigns on the mainland. Prior to that point the local regiments had been providing armed assistance to the police force.

The simple fact is, without the IRA and related groups trying to foist catholic rule on the protestant north - who didn't want it there wouldn't have been any conflict. The army wouldn't have had to go in, northern ireland would still have that first parliament and there might evn have been a genuine democratic campaign to unite Ireland again.

Ireland in the 70s was as bad as the protestant bit, only from the other side. It was practically a catholic theocracy, or the closest you can get to it within the framework of modern christianity. After DeValera died the country began to move toward sanity again and became a little more accepting.

I think I need to re-interate, the native Irish are not particularly pleased with the conflict, nor do they particularly care about what happens to the North. It has been my experience that the only people who seem to care about the 'occupation' are foreigners and descendents of Irish emmigrants, and the support seems to increase the further away they are.

The irony of it all is, those ulster scots you seem to hold in such low regard could probably trace their ancestry through scotland and back to Ireland again. THe people-group we call Scots originated in the north of Ireland and moved to Scotland many thousands of years ago, where they conquered the picts and virtually wiped them out. At the same time, the people we now call Irish actually originated in Scotland, and moved to Ireland at around the same time the Scots moved to scotland. It may have happened thousands of years ago, but that's how things are. To use an emotive example, the Ulster scots are comparable to the returning Israelis. There's always been a presence of those people in Ireland and there has always ben a lot of communication between Ireland and Scotland over the ages. The ulster scots can reasonably say that they are simply returning to their ancestral lands.

Also, I find the comment about "British socialism" a little confusing. "Our" socialism only began to rise in the early 50s, well after northern ireland had its home rule. In fact the reason for northern ireland's moribund economy is that a nation constantly at war with itself is not in a position to develop a strong economic base. It has nothing to do with any socialism, which only really took root following the rise of the IRA. It certainly doesn't apply to Australia; transportation to the colonies stopped about a century before Marx was born, and the concept, whilst it existed, was not something that most people knew about. It is actually likely that those convicts transported to Australia were subscribers to the those proto-forms of socialism.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if Britain had not felt impelled to use the country as a place to send the Scots and the surplus sons of the nobility, northern Ireland would not be a colony and her GDP would compare favorably with that of the Republic. Unfortunately, northern Ireland is saddled with the failed economic ideas of Britain and the resulting high taxes.

You seem to be conveniently ignoring all the Irish in Liverpool and Glasgow, where they still stir up trouble. Northern Ireland wasn't purposefully "colonised" so much as it's just the closest spot to Britain and where many ships cross.

ROI's economy was useless for a very long time until the EU started giving it hand outs. Northern Ireland's GDP is crap due to the fighting and a lack of free money from the EU.

Ireland isn't really my area but Scotland is. Most Americans seem to share the same views on Scottish history and politics as the hardcore socialists actually here in Scotland do. The amount of stuff I've heard socialists and Americans blame on the English that was really just the highlands vs lowlands is amazing. You complain about useful idiots in New York aiding terrorists in the middle east, but have you considered that you could be a useful idiot for socialists in Britain and Ireland?

One thing I will give the Irish credit for is that they had it bad here in Britain in the 50s, worse than the blacks. But it's over now and they don't complain about it, only foreigners do. I have to agree with archonix, "it has [also] been my experience that the only people who seem to care about the 'occupation' are foreigners and descendents of Irish emmigrants, and the support seems to increase the further away they are".

Unknown said...

Um, well, may I colour in a few details here please?

The UK troops are NOT leaving the Republic of Ireland, because they have never been there. They are NOT leaving Ulster either, because that is part of the UK, which they still defend. Instead they are ceasing regular patrols and transferring some regiments to other parts of the UK, since peace has been restored thanks to their perseverance. It's Mission Accomplished, not defeat.

They were NOT sent to Ulster in 1969 to "Oppress The Catholics" but to protect them from the Protestant-dominated local police, judges and street gangs. They were jubilantly welcomed by the Catholics, but the IRA's systematic executions of friendly Catholics soured relations later on. Even though many of these executions involved mutilation for hours or days with cheap implements, the thugs still demanded a bonus for enjoying themselves, and that’s how NORAID contributions were spent. Of course they tortured many Protestants to death too, including schoolgirls, so perhaps they weren’t all wasted.

Though at peace, both Protestant and IRA militias are reluctant to disarm. Here's why: when the Republic of Ireland was formed its population was nearly 40% Protestant. Today it's 3%. Just try and guess how that change was inflicted.

The Troubles were NOT an inter-Christian war. The IRA has a garbled Marxist ideology, with lots of Nazi racism enduring from their alliance with Germany during both World Wars. They hate Christianity and free enterprise, and they cynically exploit the beliefs of their targets. Thus they extracted intelligence from the Kremlin, arms from the Warsaw Pact, training grounds from Gaddafi, dollars from Irish-Americans and submission from Ulster Catholics, while secretly despising them all. Rather, it was a war against Christians by the IRA who, for example, liked machine-gunning church congregations in the back while they were singing hymns. I doubt if that appeared on US TV, though it was presumably much enjoyed in Libya.

The Irish potato famines were unspeakably mishandled by English, Irish and Scottish politicians, and they mishandled the English potato famines in the exactly same way too. I have yet to meet a Southern Irishman who has even heard of the English famines, or shown any emotion but gloating over the English poor who either emigrated or died en masse, when so informed. Our death rate was much lower I admit.

We might see Oliver Cromwell as the Republican party’s first leader because it fits to some degree. His party beheaded the king and made England and Wales a Constitutional Democratic Republic. When the king’s son raised Scotland in a war of conquest, Cromwell defended the young Republic and beat the Scottish army, who outnumbered us 3 to 1. When the king’s son next raised Ireland to conquer us Cromwell did the same again, initially outnumbered 2 to 1 and by the end 6 to 1. His Irish resettlements seemed at the time the only way to end a long civil war, in which Irish troopers had been the only and notorious butchers of civilians and prisoners.

The Scots he imported were Irish clansmen – they spoke Gaelic, not Manx, Welsh or English. Can I ask how graciously the Royalists could have been “resettled” after the US War of Independence from the same monarchy, or the Confederate slavers after the US Civil War? Who took their lands in reality? Well, their kinsmen I expect.

I’m told by an Irish friend that the South is now a prosperous cultural desert. Compared with his childhood memories, the people are selfish, immoral, unromantic and uncultured loners. Town planners have trashed its beauty for profit. He plans never to return, and he certainly does not want it to be the model for Ulster’s future. England is better in his eyes.

Yes I’m English but with Irish Catholic blood. A work colleague had his face removed by flying glass in an IRA attack on London. Should I love a terrorist still, because of our racial kinship, or because of the submission of our faithful to his power?

ziontruth said...

Kyle said:

"Most Americans seem to share the same views on Scottish history and politics as the hardcore socialists actually here in Scotland do. The amount of stuff I've heard socialists and Americans blame on the English that was really just the highlands vs lowlands is amazing. You complain about useful idiots in New York aiding terrorists in the middle east, but have you considered that you could be a useful idiot for socialists in Britain and Ireland?" [Emphasis mine. --ZY]

That's the point I wanted to make in my first comment on this post but probably didn't so well.

To be sure, I'd cut Dymphna some slack on this, because she really does have a dog in this fight. But my message is a general one, to anyone who jumps on a fashionable bandwagon without having thought things over, and especially to those who don't have a dog in the fight and therefore are inclined to lower their guard against potentially backfiring positions.

Two examples to make my point more concrete:

1. "Ethnic cleansing", or to be more accurate, mass expulsion of an adversarial group. Fashion decrees that one be automatically and categorically opposed to it, and public opinion enforces it by painting any dissenter as Hitler reincarnate. Naturally, in my lefty days I fell in line. Today I realize it is near-suicidal for me to hold that oh-so "righteous" (make that self-righteous) position, not only because it is scripturally supported (Numbers 33:50-53), but also because it's well-nigh the only effective way, in all the world, for non-Muslims to repulse the threat of Islamic colonialism and imperialism. Yeah, I could go on speaking against expulsionism like I did in my lefty days, and win the praise of a few Progressives for that, only to see them go back to business the second after, in condemning me for "dispossessing the indigenous". I'll take unfashionability, opprobrium and the promise of survival and the prospect of peace instead, thank you. I'm not into signing suicide pacts, however "morally correct" they may be.

2. Bosnia. 1992-5, jumped unthinkingly on the bandwagon of condemning the Serbs. Everyone did that, and the pictures on TV showed how they were evil, so it was a no-brainer for me. Flash forward to after the Second Lebanon War (summer 2006), and I have two new insights: first, there are no checks and balances on the MSM for objectivity, so every report coming from them is to be held in suspicion (reports on the Israel/"Palestine" conflict from Al-Reuters are usually signed with Arab names, such as Diaa Hadid; I'd bet my bottom shekel that the reports on Bosnia back then were signed with Muslim-sounding names like Ismailovitch); second, I now know that the innocence of Muslims is something that needs to be backed up by good proof before it can be believed, so the story I swallowed whole then, of "aggressive Serbs waging unprovoked war on the peaceful Bosnian Muslims" is a narrative I now give very little credence to. In short, I jumped on the anti-Serb bandwagon then because it was the fashionable and "moral" thing to do, because you were as good as a Nazi-sympathizer if you were on the side of the Serbs, and now, in hindsight, I regret it deeply. It was a position I'd reached without research, without a fair hearing and only with the unaccountable, agenda-driven MSM as my source of information, and to top it all it was against my interests, as the Bosnian Muslims are the Balkan equivalent of the "Palestinians"--Islamic imperialists masking their goal with a nationalist narrative.

Knee-jerk jumping on a bandwagon should be avoided. Again, this may not apply so much to Dymphna, who's into it because of ancestry rather than fashionability, but the general caution stands firm.

Jungle Jim said...

Northern Ireland's economy is booming. When I was there I stayed with my friend's parents, who live in the country about 15 miles outside of Belfast. Her stepfather sold 4 acres of farm land adjacent to his house for 4.5 million pounds (about nine million US dollars). When he told me that, my jaw dropped. And when I told him what I paid for my 11 acre place just outside Oklahoma City, his jaw dropped.

X said...

Jungle Jim, I pointed that out in the first version of my post, but I fear it was so long that my computer decided it wasn't going to tolerate my rambling and switched itself off. The short version is, my uncle, an architect, is over there right now building all sorts of commercial buildings to accommodate the boom that's come on in the last decade.

L fairfax said...

Wow you are so ignorant about this is it is unbelievable. In Ireland people had the same rights as in the rest of the UK. It is true that Catholics had less rights but that was because our ancestors did not want to die. eg
The Catholics wiped out protestants in France, Spain etc and we did not want to go the same way. Don't forget that Pope Gregory XIII said it was good to kill the queen of England.
One last thing why do you think England conquered Ireland ? It was the Pope who gave us permission !!

Vol-in-Law said...

"the story I swallowed whole then, of "aggressive Serbs waging unprovoked war on the peaceful Bosnian Muslims" is a narrative I now give very little credence to"

I was the same; even in the Kosovo war I was more thoughtful, but still going along with the MSM narrative. Now I know not to trust the buggers an inch.

Back on topic - one good thing about the NI peace process, the MSM are no longer calling for ethnic cleansing of the Ulster Protestants; they've even stopped attacking Ian Paisley since he shacked up with Martin MaGuiness, their favourite terrorist (after Arafat, and he's dead).

Profitsbeard said...

Terrorism is the political refuge of the sadist.

No tactic that violates human decency breeds anything but revenge.

And disgust for its practitioners, whatever land they come from.

All terrorists are the same.

Contemptuous of life.

Consumed by an idea.

Mesmerized by hate.

Simon de Montfort said...

Interesting discussion, although where all the anti-Dymphna Overreacting is coming from, I do not know. She said very little, and not enough to enrage any reasonable person--but seems to have touched a few Nerves

I tried to comment earlier but took too long to find out how to find out what my name and password were, and now Too Much has been said already

Dymphna spoke a few heartfelt Truths; some of you lads ( none Irish, apparently ) got worked up over what YOU THOUGHT SHE IMPLIED

The Ulster Portestant regime from 1922 until recently was Stalinist, and occasionally resorted to terror. The British Army beginning in 1969 was in the Six Counties in support of that Stalinist and periodically terrorist regime--and now they are finally gone.

For Irish Catholics, Nationalist and Republican, the departure of the British Army from the Six Counties is a Very Good Thing, and will hopefully lead to a united, peaceful and democratic Ireland

X said...

That's a rather bold assertion there. Have you actually got any evidence to back up this idea that the prots were stalinists?

X said...

Ok, the reason I asked that is because it doesn't fit the facts. Sounds to me like you're trying to create a "narrative" to justify yourself rather than actually argue the facts. You see, the reason it doesn't fit is because all the major unionst movements have also been monarchists, and they've all had links and ties with the conservative party.

It just doesn't fit, you see. The tory party of the day would never have allied with communists of any stripe no matter what their goals. Unless, by Stalinist, you don't mean communist, but simply "people I don't like"...

Now, I also don't like the way you've characterised disagreements with Dymphna's thesis as "anti-dymphna overreacting". Obviously I can't speak for the others but, if I was anti-dymphna, do you think I would have agreed with her so much elsewhere?

The truth is, in this instance Dymphna and yourself have let idealism and mythology cloud your view of the facts, and the facts are that the 6 counties have constantly elected to remain British whenever they've been asked.

Now, finally, I would like to point out that I could reasonably claim to be Irish. My mother, god bless her, could even claim Irish citizenship if she wanted. She doesn't. I don't. I'm British and I'm proud of being British and, frankly, whilst I do agree with dymphna on so many things, her adoption of the Irish republican narrative in this case got me more than a little angry. Not at her, obviously, but at the fact that this narrative justifying the murder of hundreds, possibly thousands of people in the name of something that those people don't even want can actually survive so long.

The unionists have had their bad elements as well, this can't be denied, but your characterisation of the northern irish government as a terrorist organisation is a shade beyond the pale, really. The government was elected. Elected. They were not appointed, they were chosen by a democratic vote. That parliament often included republicans and unionists alongside each other, and it would still be there today but for the constant campaign of terror carried out by the republican movement.

Simon de Montfort said...

I am not creating a mythology. The Stormont regime was the equal of any East European regime. If you believe otherwise and want to idealize the Protestant rule, I don't have the willingness to even begin to deal with that

Your statement that the Six Counties 'vote' for the status quo is genuinely fully: A Protestant majority votes to keep itself a majority: fascinating

Simon de Montfort said...

....and genuinely funny as well as 'fully'. I've heard apologists before, but you're.......good; very good

L fairfax said...

"The Stormont regime was the equal of any East European regime"
Proof ??
Considering what happened to protestants in Spain in the 1930's I am very glad that the Northern Ireland protestants were not part of a united Ireland.

X said...

A Protestant majority votes to keep itself a majority

Excuse my frank language but just what the hell is wrong with that? The Catholic majorities in Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal voted to remain majorites as well and joined the Irish free state as a result. By your logic that's also bad.


I am not idealising the ulster government, who were certainly slow to react to the mistreatment of catholics in northern ireland. However, you are demonising them by comparing them to stalinists (stalin had yet to ascend to the secretary generalship in 22) and eastern european regimes (most of which were catholic up to about 1944). They were not 'stalinist', nor were they communist, nor were they particularly worse than the irish republic in how they treated people.

Consider this before tossing around accusations of stalinism. Between 1922 and 1926 Ireland lost 34% of its protestant population. They left because their homes were burned, their families persecuted. Many of them were murdered.

I would not even dream of justifying the terrible events that my nation inflicted on the Irish in the past, but that's part and parcel of living in a post-imperial age, with all the various guilt trips that go with it. Can you, will you try to justify the treatment of protestants in Ireland?

More people were murdered in The IRA murdered more people in northern ireland than any unionist or loyalist group. All terrorist organisations are bad and should rightly be dealt with, but you are trying to ascribe terrorist motives to what was the legitimately elected government. Now forgive my histrionics but that refrain does sound very familiar to these ears...

And I notice that you still haven't supplied your evidence of the prots being 'stalinist'.

Unknown said...


The Republic of Ireland is not anti-semitic. A couple of yahoos in the media and Seanad don't speak for the entire country. As for the "debate" here I haven't seen a single post with even the most basic historical knowledge. You can't summarise 800 years of history in a blog post.

I've been studying Irish history all my life and anyone who hasn't doesn't have the slightest clue what they are talking about. A 13-year old history student could rebut everything written here if given the necessary time. The misconceptions are too many for me to take on all at once

On a more positive note, the animus against the English in general is so much less than it was even five years ago. Irish football supporters cheer the English team in pubs, unimaginable even three years ago. The British National Anthemn was played at Croke Park. The age-old hatred is dying down and I myself have become more pro-British than I ever thought imaginable in the last two years.

Unknown said...

Oh and by the way I depsise the IRA who are a bunch of terrorist murdering scumbags. That doesn't mean that I give the British a free pass entirely. Whoever came up with the bright idea of sending the Parachute Regiment into Derry (Ted Heath?) was criminally stupid.

X said...

Ted Heath and "Criminally Stupid" are synonyms.