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From: Church & State: Editorials
Date: July, 2012
By: Editorial

Plumbing The Depths

Fianna Fail has been described as one of the pillars of the state.  But the leadership of that party, with the partial exception of Eamon O Cuiv, has lost all sense of itself and its past.  The following is a transcript of an extensive interview, which Pat Kenny conducted with Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin on 30th April 2012.


Pat Kenny:  Well that seems to be the view of former Deputy Leader, Eamon O Cuiv, when he said in an interview in the Connaught Tribune that both parties [Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail] come from the same tradition and are therefore more compatible than a partnership with either Fine Gael or Labour.  I'm joined from the Cork studio by the Leader of Fianna fail, Michael Martin.  Good morning.

Michael Martin:  Good morning Pat.  

PK:  You must be tempted to use that old phrase, Rid me of this turbulent priest.

MM:  Not at all.  I think people in politics are free to articulate their positions and indeed to articulate what their particular beliefs and thoughts are.  I wouldn't share Eamon O Cuiv's analysis at all in relation to Sinn Fein.  I don't see Sinn Fein as a Republican party in the first instance.  Their actions, not just in the past but even in the present day are the very antithesis of what Republicanism should mean—

PK:  Are you saying, to quote Garret FitzGerald about Charlie Haughey, they have a flawed pedigree.

MM:  I wouldn't use that phrase.  Basically, Republicanism to me is the capacity to unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.  And I think Sinn Fein do not have that capacity.  We saw evidence of that during the Presidential election when large sections of society here found it difficult to comprehend the prospect of a Sinn Fein Presidency because of the murders and the activities that they engaged in.  And yesterday in my speech at Arbour Hill, you know, I made it very clear that there is no connection, nor can there be any attempt to connect the activities of the Provisional IRA with the War of Independence period, or indeed with the leaders of 1916:  1916, which is part of the narrative that Sinn Fein have been endeavouring to articulate.

PK:  You said Sinn Fein prolonged suffering because of its delay in embracing democratic politics.

MM:  Absolutely.  And if you talk to some ex-combatants and people who were members of the IRA, they now realise that.  And they believe that there was a fundamental dishonesty at the earth of the Provisional IRA campaign from the mid seventies onwards, particularly after Sunningdale.  And that thousands of people lost their lives needlessly.  If you read Voices From The Grave, Ed Molony's book, which as you know deals with the testimony of Brendan Hughes, who was a close ally of Gerry Adams in the IRA at that that time, it's very very clear that there was huge disillusionment set in, and indeed, you know, I instanced the issue of The Disappeared, and last week we had further news with relation to Colin McBain—attempts to find his body so that his family can give him a decent burial.  He was a young teenager when he was abducted in 1975.  And I genuinely believe there's been a fundamental lack of accountability in relation to those kinds of incidents and those issues and therein lies really the fundamental problem with Sinn Fein terms of describing itself as a Republican party.  Both in terms of its behaviour and activity, even in terms of its [indistinct] in Government in Northern Ireland, tend to be very sectarian and tend to be very partisan in their approach.

PK:  Later on in the programme we'll be talking about a book called Overcoming Violence by Johnston McMaster, and he goes back looking at the tradition of violence going back to the Tudor Plantations and all the rest of it.  But in the period that we're about to celebrate, this one hundred years, starting from this year and going through to 1922, it was a very violent period, and one of the things he talks about is the shooting of James Bardon in the face by the IRA.  I mean it was dirty war at that time.  And Sinn Fein might say, you know, making omelettes involves the breaking of eggs, or the taking of lives, in this case.

MM:  Well, I would ask people to read Lost Lives, which is basically the most comprehensive list and account of all those who lost their lives in Northern Ireland, over a very prolonged thirty-odd year period.  And, if you read that and look through the individual cases, you come away from it really understanding this wasn't about any war or conflict, but it's something that went very quickly out of control after '74.  All wars are nasty.  All conflicts, I accept, are—you know there's no glory in war.  There's nothing to be passionate about in terms of the fundamental loss of life and misery for people.  But there was absolutely no need, and there was a fundamental dishonesty at the heart of the Provisional movement, both political with Sinn Fein and indeed militarily within IRA, about what they were about in terms of the violence that they wreaked on Protestant communities in Northern Ireland in particular and given all the agreement we've had since then—You look back at the 74 period, the Sunningdale Agreement and so on, you do ask very basic questions:  Why—why did so many people have to lose their lives over such a prolonged period.

PK:  Now, I'm not justifying anything done by Sinn Fein and by the IRA back in the twenties.  But the notion of [indistinct] in the Border Counties, the genocide of farmers, or farmers' sons indeed, where there might only have been one or two children in the family, and looking at what happened, particularly in places like Cork, where there was what looked like the genocide of the landed gentry or an attempt at that.  I mean there are parallels.

MM:  Which would be fundamentally wrong, and equally to be condemned.  T G Ceathair and others did documentaries on that, and you know there's an ongoing debate in relation to Peter Hart's book in relation to that particular period.  But I think what we need from Sinn Fein and its leadership is a genuine accountability for some of the atrocities that occurred and in particular, if you just take The Disappeared, if you take the case of Thomas McGearey who I mentioned yesterday, who was murdered in 1984 by a booby trap bomb—they denied it first—I think Sinn Fein have not come to terms with that past and have not been honest in terms of accepting that it wasn't just part of a genuine sort of conflict with an Imperial Power but rather that it was genocidal in some respects.  And also based on a sectarian approach to the other community in Northern Ireland, as they would have seen it.

PK:  If you take a broad brush-stroke here though, and you say civil war in this country was caused by Fianna Fail's rejection of the Treaty——

MM:  ——Fianna Fail didn't exist during the Civil War, Pat.

PK:—well the antecedents, shall we say, that gave rise to Fianna Fail.  And equally you can say that Sinn Fein, by their rejection of what they saw as an illegitimate Government in Stormont, certainly contributed to the Troubles as they unfolded.  I mean they weren't going to lie down.  John Hume nobly of course decided to take the non-violent route and ho knows whether or not that would have succeeded if the Troubles had not erupted in the way that they did.

MM:  Yeah, I think, I mean, I mean, we know that John Hume was an outstanding politician, a pacifist, a person who believes in the political road forward, and ultimately you know, his perspective and others in the Republic, our own Party, made a very noble contribution to achieving peace in the end.  But it just went on for too long.  And I think, when you read Voices From The Grave and other books which have just come on the scene in more recent times, and the evidence of those who were directly involved, you begin to see that there was a huge lie at the heart of the Provisional IRA's movements and its campaigns and indeed in the Sinn Fein political presentation of what went on.  Sinn Fein need to be more honest and accountable for what happened and what transpired than all of the denials we're receiving.  Every political party's past is up for inquiry and investigation.  And I think in this context, given the enormity of what happened, given the number of lives lost, the circumstances around The Disappeared and thus there was a need for a greater degree of open and honest accountability about that and honesty about it, and not to continue to portray it in the manner that Sinn Fein continue to do.

PK:  However, politics is about being pragmatic and Eamon O Cuiv points out that to look for an alternative to the present Government, if the public decide that they don't want to vote for that Government, and he suggests that they will present themselves as a Government for re-election in four years' time, doing the sums, if Fianna Fail recover somewhat, and Sinn Fein continues to make progress, maybe a Fianna Fail/Sinn Fein alliance might be the only alternative.

MM:  Well, I think in the first instance, the over-riding objective of Fianna Fail must be to renew itself, to develop fresh policies and bring new people into the party, facilitate the people coming into the electoral situation and getting elected to Councils and Parliament.  And that's our first and over-riding objective.  I think we're not being presumptuous at this particular juncture.  And, secondly, I think the overwhelming evidence from the RTE Exit Poll at the last General Election was that about 22% of our vote went to either Fine Gael or Labour or indeed the Independents.  And that only about 3% went to Sinn Fein.

PK:  So you think Eamon O Cuiv has it wrong.

MM:  I do.  I think fundamentally Fianna Fail must present itself as a credible alternative, as a credible and progressive Republican party .  I think Sinn Fein is adopted a position of opposing everything and being for very little, and isn't offering an alternative vision that is practical or implementable.

PK:  In fairness to Eamon O Cuiv, by the way, he does say——


  ——he does say, in fairness to him, he has a right go at Sinn Fein's economic policy——

MM:  …mad or…

PK:  I don't want to suggest that Eamon O Cuiv is at one with them on every thing.  But in terms of criticising Sinn Fein and what has been achieved by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, this business—the term used by Tony Blair—about constructive ambiguity, you know, bringing the hard men along by this kind of process.  And we were reminded again, to misquote or borrow from Gerry Adams, they haven't gone away, you know, with the bomb that was decommissioned by the British Army in Northern Ireland, which would have killed everyone within fifty metres of it, had it exploded.  I mean that's overnight…

MM:  Your point?

PK:  You know, I mean, that sometimes it takes constructive ambiguity to stop the violence, bring people along, and, you know, to apologise abjectly for some of the things that they perhaps in their hearts feel sorry for, would maybe alienate those people who felt that they put their lives on the line in vain.

MM:  Well, I think we've come a long distance from the Downing St. Declaration, from the Good Friday Agreement, and whereas at that particular time in order, in terms of making the peace, yeah, there was a constructive ambiguity, yes decisions were taken by both the British and the Irish Governments to facilitate that Peace Process.  But if you're entering into the full rigour of democratic politics and you feel free to attack everybody left right and centre about their sins, then I think you have an obligation to be equally forthright about that since you've——

PK:  Do you think there is an amnesia there?——

MM:  ——I think there is——

PK:  ——a public amnesia.  It doesn't suit everybody, I mean, I remember Charles Haughey when we were trying to organise an interview with him on television or radio and he would say, I'll do it as long as there's none of that old Arms Trial ---—and I won't use the expletive he used—there comes a time when you just get tired of asking Gerry Adams were you in the IRA?  Why don't you own up etc. etc. etc.

MM:  But that goes to the heart of the integrity argument in politics.  I think people do find it incomprehensible and find it very difficult to believe that Gerry Adams was not in the IRA, given all the evidence and testimony to the contrary, and commentary from fellow combatants at that time.  That creates a huge credibility problem for Gerry Adams, and for Sinn Fein, and indeed for Martin McGuinness.  And I think, yes, people were very very wary of the North, and became very wary because of the longevity of it.  But equally we are in more recent times beginning to hear in much more starker terms and clearer terms what actually went on within the Provisional IRA.  They had been particularly disciplined in terms of preventing a lot of stuff from coming out and holding it all together, but the Voices From The Grave and other testimonies are beginning to give a different story, which is important by the way, in terms of the culture.  You mentioned the Real IRA and the dissidents.  When I was Minister for Foreign Affairs we did a lot of work trying to develop cross-community healing, to work with Co-Operation Ireland, for example, on young people in marginalised communities, both on the Loyalist side and on the Republican side, to keep them way from the culture of violence, the culture of the gun, the bomb and the bullet.  And, unfortunately, unless there's greater honesty by all those who were involved, I think that from that honesty will come a far more effective tool and approach to preventing a younger generation from going down the route of violence in the North.  That's a critical issue.

PK:   We talked about amnesia a moment ago, but there are virtually no one of a certain age who does not remember and condemn Enniskillen and what went on there, the murder of the people at the Cenotaph.  People remember the cowardly murder of Lord Mountbatten.  People remember the killing of Garda Gerry McCabe.  And yet, in spite of knowing all of those things, which are very much in the public domain, unlike some of the things that you've mentioned (you'd almost have to do research to learn about them), in spite of all that, they are prepared to accept members of Sinn Fein in Dail Eireann without heaping odium upon them at every hand's turn.

MM:  Yes, they do.  And people have the freedom to vote at the ballot box.  And people do that.  But equally in terms of political debate and discourse these are very legitimate issues to raise.  And I think it's very very important that, in the context of my speech yesterday at Arbour Hill, and it's very important that Sinn Fein would de-mythologize their war in the North, and their conflict in the North, if for no other reason, to prevent future generations from going down a very futile path.  And indeed, if you talk to some of the ex-combatants who have gone away from the Provisional IRA movement, they do that a lot.  They actually [indistinct] up to a lot of young people in those communities in the North, warning them, saying Don't allow the armchair Generals walk you down a life of misery, a life of death and destruction.  and so there's a very compelling case for those who are involved in the Provisional IRA and those who are still involved in that movement, and to be far more open and honest about the needlessness, the futility of what went on for the last——

PK:  Are you ruling out any Coalition with Sinn Fein while you are leader of Fianna Fail?

MM:  As leader of Fianna Fail, I mean we'll campaign on our own.

PK:  But are you ruling it out?  I mean it could happen that the numbers might stack up after the next General Election.  I mean are you ruling it out definitively?

MM:  We have no compatibility with the Sinn Fein economic platform, with its platform on the Euro.  So certainly we would not be going into Government with Sinn Fein.

PK:  But I mean, on the basis of what you said about their history, that alone should be enough for you to say No, no, never.

MM:  Well in terms of—— that's one aspect of it.  And you're right in identifying that as a key issue for me.  But equally a key issue in terms of the future, of the generations to come, is the direction that Ireland takes.  and I think Sinn Fein's fundamental policy platform is one that would move Ireland to an isolationist position in terms of both Europe and the global context.  And, secondly, it was economic policy which would de-incentivise enterprise, fundamentally about over-taxation, and I think it would lead to a loss of jobs, and a loss of economic credibility in the international sphere.

PK:  And that brings us to the Fiscal Compact…

Some Comments

Martin was under some slight pressure from Sinn Fein.  He might have rejected O Cuiv's suggestion of a coalition with Sinn Fein on the ground of an incompatibility of policies with relation to the governing of the Republic.  He chose instead to make a kind of historical Declaration of Faith in emotional terms, and to condemn Sinn Fein's part in the devolved government in the North.  With his historical remarks he makes nonsense of the origins of Fianna Fail, following the lines set by Martin Mansergh when he was adviser to Bertie Ahern.  And his remarks about Sinn Fein's conduct in government in the North are merely ignorant nonsense.

The origins of Fianna Fail lie in Anti-Treaty Sinn Fein.  Pro-Treaty Sinn Fein very quickly ceased to be Sinn Fein—though gaining a small majority in the Sinn Fein Dail—as wealthy anti-Sinn Fein tendencies gathered around it.  The element in Sinn Fein which supported the Treaty did so on the basis that a submission to Crown authority was the only way to ward off a comprehensive British reconquest.  Michael Collins's strategy was to gain a secure foothold as a Government under British authority and then at an opportune moment to break free of British authority.  The British Government saw what he was up to and countered it.  It ordered him to break the election Pact he made with the Anti-Treatyites in May 1922, under which Sinn Fein, straddling the Treaty issue, would have contested the June election as a Party.  And then in July 1922 it gave him a further ultimatum, compelling him to make war on the Anti-Treaty Republicans, with the threat that, if he did not do so promptly, the British Army would go into action again.  So Collins went to war at the insistence of Britain, supplied with British arms.  And Treatyite Sinn Fein lost itself in the war it fought on British orders, while winning a crushing military victory.

De Valera refused to recognise an election conducted under a threat of massive Imperial violence as being democratically binding.  Who today would recognise such an election as democratic?

Three years later De Valera proposed that Sinn Fein should contest Free State elections, without recognising the legitimacy of the Treaty under whose authority they were held, in order to destroy the Treaty from within.  When he failed to get a majority in Sinn Fein for this strategy he formed Fianna Fail.

The Treatyite authorities decided to use the Treaty Oath to keep Fianna Fail out of the Dail.  They reckoned that, by keeping it off the gravy train, they could stifle it.  But support for Fianna Fail kept growing until it arose as a practical possibility that the majority party elected by the people would be locked out of the Dail by the Government.  That was averted in 1927 when by subterfuge Fianna Fail was let into the Dail without subordinating itself to the Treaty Oath.  It became the Government five years later and set about repealing the Treaty without consulting Britain.

That Fianna Fail had its origins in Anti-Treatyism, that it did not recognise the legitimacy of the 1922 regime, and that the 'Civil War' was launched under a Whitehall ultimatum, were things not disputed in Fianna Fail circles for half a century.  Signs then began to appear that Fianna Fail was uneasy about its origins.  Then, lacking historical orientation, and faced with the War in the North, it declined into an evasive, tricky, managerial party, frittering away its historical heritage, and relying entirely on power for the maintenance of power.  Because of the place it had acquired in the state as the bearer of the history of the state, its rejection of its own history had a disorientating effect on society.

When did democratic government begin in Ireland?  January 1919 on the basis of the electoral mandate of December 1918?  Or 1922 with the establishment of the Treaty state on British authority?  Martin Mansergh has dated it from 1922.  So what were the founders of Fianna Fail doing in 1922-3, when they were active in opposition to the Treaty State?

But recognition of the 'Treaty' as the founding document does not only question the democratic credentials of Fianna Fail—it questions the legitimacy of what was done in 1919-21 by defenders of the Dail against the British administration.

When Martin condemned the Provos in the North as a murder gang, Pat Kenny put it to him that there was "Genocide of the landed gentry" back in 1919-21.  He does not disagree.  How could he?  "Peter Hart's book" has said it.

But surely this is in conflict with his denial that there is any similarity between the Provo War and the War of Independence—both were sectarian and genocidal!

The fact that the leader of the Party, a Party that was the hinge of the state for a couple of generations, can make a remark like this in passing, on the authority of an academic chancer whose work has been heavily discredited, shows what a morass the political life of the Republic has become.

Factual Digression:  the "genocide of the landed gentry" in Cork during the War of Independence would have been an impossibility, because they had been got rid of long before the War began.  No doubt the agrarian terrorism directed against their oppressions would now be regarded as attempted genocide.  But, in the end, it wasn't the Whiteboys who disposed of them.  They were got rid of through a collaboration between William O'Brien's agitation and the Tory (Unionist) Government of 1895-1905.  Under the 1903 Land Act, they were given golden handshakes by the Government to induce them to sell their estates to their tenants at reasonable prices and they had pocketed the money and left.

Second factual digression:  John Hume, the noble pacifist, declared early in 1972 that it was now "United Ireland, or nothing".  Nobody was then under the illusion that the Protestants would agree to a united Ireland.  Hume acted as if he understood the mutual relationship between force and "constitutional" action that the circumstances of the Northern Ireland structure decreed for the Catholic community.  And he played a crucial part in realising the Provo strategy, adopted when it was seen that the war could not be won outright, of transferring the momentum of the War into a Peace Process, without conceding defeat.  He was reviled in the Dublin media and came close to being ousted from the leadership of the SDLP.  When he retired his successors lapsed into the kind of simple-mindedness now shown by Martin, and the SDLP collapsed.

Third factual digression:  who are the "armchair generals" who led the young people astray?  Martin McGuinness!  Gerry Kelly!!

Fourth factual digression:  1974 has become popular as a date at which an acceptable Northern settlement was made, with the implication that the Provos subverted it without sufficient reason, and after which their murders, though always abominable, became even more abominable.

But what part did the Provos play in subverting the Sunningdale Agreement?  None at all.  It was destroyed by a Unionist General Strike against the Council of Ireland aspect of the Agreement.  The Strike was provoked by the revelation made in Court by the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition Government in Dublin that it had swindled the Unionist negotiators at Sunningdale.  The Unionists thought it had been agreed that the legitimacy of the North as part of the UK was accepted as a quid pro quo for Power-Sharing and a Council of Ireland, but the Coalition, when challenged about this in Court said that was not the case and that the Sovereignty Claim over the North still stood.  The SDLP leader declared that the Unionist Strike against the Agreement was a Fascist uprising, and demanded firm Government action against it.  But strong action against a determined General strike is problematical.  

When the Strike could not be broken, the Secretary of State scrapped the whole Sunningdale system.  The major terrorist action during the Strike, which was also the major terrorist action of the whole War, was the combined bombing of Dublin and Monaghan, supposedly by Loyalists.  There is now little doubt that it was organised by the UK security apparatus—which is why successive Dublin Governments have been afraid to conduct a thorough investigation.  That was 1974.

There is a reasonable degree of stability, for the time being, in the present Northern arrangements.  The policy of the Fianna Fail leader, adopted out of ignorance (or under Eoghan Harris's influence, which comes to the same thing) is to destabilise it by raking over selected incidents in the War and demanding that Sinn Fein admit to being a murder gang.

The Provos have been criticised for not quite understanding the South.  They understand it very much better than Fianna Fail understands the North, though there is some truth in the criticisms.  The Provo leaders compared themselves to Michael Collins at one point.  There is no similarity of any substance.  They carried the great bulk of the Republican movement with them, leaving only a small "dissident" margin, on whose resentment Martin now bases his condemnation.  When Collins decided to take matters into his own hands he split the Republican body politic, alienated most of those who had compelled the British to negotiate, became increasingly dependent on elements that were opposed to the whole Republican enterprise, and launched a 'Civil War' on orders from Whitehall.

Fianna Fail has branches in the North, but it keeps them moribund instead of activating them and showing Sinn Fein how things should be done.  If it does not try to become active in the politics of the North as Sinn Fein has done in the South, it would be well advised to put on a muzzle and treat the North as a faraway country of which it knows nothing.

Martin was a member of the Government which facilitated the invasion in 2003 of another faraway country of which it knew nothing, even though it had been doing good business with it—Iraq.  Mansergh, as its spokesman, sort of apologised for having done business with the Tyrant, but said it had now helped to put things right by overthrowing him.  We have not since heard any good confessions of guilt for the ongoing mayhem it helped to unloose.

Government Incoherence

Centuries of sectarian Protestant government of Ireland by Britain resulted in the oppressed religion, which was marked down for extermination, becoming the nucleus around which Irish national resistance developed.  What Ireland resisted was not some benevolent liberalism but theocratic Protestantism acting despotically.  Fanatical belief was on the English side, not the Irish, and the culture developed in the course of resistance is not conjured away by scepticism about God or his relationship with the Pope.

Gaelic, having survived centuries of oppression, was undermined as the major language of the populace by the event that is euphemistically called The Famine.  It was less effective as a mode of political resistance than was Catholicism, with its international ramifications and its intellectual force.  But it never became a dead language, and in recent times it has been undergoing a strong revival, and the system of Gaelscoils provides some of the best education in the country.

The Education Minister has projected a reform which, if he has his way, will lead to a uniform system of nondescript education from which what he sees as backwardness will be removed.

In the mid-20th century there was a modernist complaint that the education system did not shape people for emigration, which was the major export.  It shaped people to the particularity of society in Ireland, as if national Ireland had a future.  The projected reform would tend to shape people into blank ciphers, not suited for national life, but adapted to the requirements of globalist capitalism.

The accidents of PR politics have thrown up in Dublin two Ministers who are free to ride their hobby horses on issues which are subversive of the ethos of the state and which are not the subject of popular demand.  Ruairi Quinn, a closet anti-clerical during the years when the Church was a force in the country, is now intent on eradicating religion from the life of society, insofar as it is in his power to do so as Education Minister.  This is not even in accordance with the wishes of his own party, the Labour Party, which is the minor partner in the Coalition, as was made clear by the Party Conference.

Alan Shatter, Fine Gael Minister for the Army, and for Justice, is intent on undermining Army discipline by establishing a right of desertion from the Irish Army to join another Army when the individual soldier, having enlisted voluntarily, changes his mind about who he wants to fight for.  This is being done in order to legitimise desertion from the Irish Army to the British at a moment when there was a distinct possibility of an invasion of the Irish state by the British Army, and only the remotest prospect of a German invasion.

Shatter's ambition to undermine Irish Army discipline is not an end in itself.  Its purpose is to de-legitimise the decision of the Irish Government in 1939, supported by the Opposition (Fine Gael and Labour), not to make war on Germany.  Churchill declared at the time that Ireland, under the terms of the Treaty, had no right to be neutral when the Crown was at war.  In 1945, when Russia and the USA had defeated Germany, Churchill said that, if it had been necessary for the British war effort, he would have invaded Ireland and made it do its duty;  and that he would have been in the right in doing so.  And now it is being put to the Dail to confirm Churchill's view of the matter and reject De Valera's rebuttal of it.

Shatter is not doing this because he has gone into the character of the War declared by Britain in 1939 and established that it somehow negated national rights throughout the world and made it right for Britain to do whatever it wanted to do to states and peoples it disagreed with.  He is doing it because he is a Zionist.  Zionism is having a thin time with Irish public opinion.  It has been losing influence steadily as the merits of the Jewish nationalist colonisation of Palestine, and the squeezing out of the native population are discussed.  But Shatter finds himself in an institutional position where he can strike a blow for Zionism without discussing its merits.

The sanctification of the 2nd world War is achieved by removing detailed knowledge of it and reducing it to a handful of slogans.  During the war the unprincipled alliance of UK, USSR and USA, calling itself the United Nations, felt free to do just what they pleased, since their cause was sacred.    After the War the victors then promptly conducted actions of the kind which were War Crimes when the vanquished had done them.  The British fought two very dirty wars, in Malaya and Kenya.  And the French Resistance, having become the Government, fought dirty wars in Algeria and Indochina.  And, in the immediate aftermath of the defeat of Germany, the United Nations authorised the greatest ethnic cleansing in history, in Central Europe,  in which many hundreds of thousands, and possibly over a million, died.  (The United Nations is not careful about counting its victims.)

There was no attempt at a systematic history of this event until the appearance this year, from Yale University, of Orderly And Humane by R.M. Douglas.  We quote the first paragraph:

"Immediately after the Second World War, the victorious Allies carried out the largest forced population transfer‚and perhaps the greatest single movement of peoples—in human history.  With the assistance of the British, Soviet, and U.S. governments, millions of German-speaking civilians living in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the parts of eastern Germany assigned to Poland were driven out of their homes and deposited amid the ruins of the Reich, to fend for themselves as best they could.  Millions more, who had fled the advancing Red Army in the final months of the war, were prevented from returning to their places of origin, and became lifelong exiles.  Others again were forcibly removed from Yugoslavia and Romania, although the Allies had never sanctioned deportations from those countries.  Altogether, the expulsion operation permanently displaced at least 12 million people, and perhaps as many as 14 million.  Most of these were women and children under the age of sixteen;  the smallest cohort of those affected were adult males.  These expulsions were accomplished with and accompanied by great violence.  Tens and possibly hundreds of thousands lost their lives through ill-treatment, starvation, and disease while detained in camps before their departure—often, like Auschwitz I, the same concentration camps used by the Germans during the Second World War.  Many more perished on expulsion trains, locked in freight wagons without food, water, or heating during journeys to Germany that sometimes took weeks;  or died by the roadside while being driven on foot to the borders.  The death rate continued to mount in Germany itself, as homeless expellees succumbed to hypothermia, malnutrition, and other effects of their ordeal.  Calculating the scale of the mortality remains a source of great controversy today, but estimates of 500,000 deaths at the lower end of the spectrum, and as many as 1.5 million at the higher, are consistent with the evidence as it exists at present…"

Plumbing The Depths.  Editorial
Is fíor trim aisling.  Eoghan Ruadh Ó Súilleabháin
Lamentation.  Séamas Ó Domhnaill
Food For Thought.  Wilson John Haire on Poetry Of The Taliban
Glove Puppets?  Donal Kennedy
John O'Connor Power.  Jane Stanford   (Report)
Mary Kenny's 'Error'.  Julianne Herlihy
Vox Pat:   Gerry Foley;  French Presidential Race;  Conrad Black;  Damien Thompson;  Fr. Sean McManus;  'The English';  American Civil War;  English Politics
A Proposed University Merger.  Jack Lane  Trinity, Its Works And Pomps, Part 6
De Cobain.  Seán McGouran
Labour And Irish Army Deserters.  Manus O'Riordan  (Report)
Out To Grass.  Wilson John Haire  (Poem)
End Of Eden?  Pat Walsh
The Staggered End Of Western Civilisation  Desmond Fennell
A Gospel Journey.  Stephen Richards
Nuclear Disarmament  Non-Proliferation Issues  (Report)