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|From: Irish Political Review: Editorials|
|Date: February, 2018|
About A Loaf Of Bread: Barry McElduff's resignation in its context.
|Humbug and hypocrisy have a part to playing the smooth running of a functional political system. But they are all that there is in the Northern Ireland system, which is not a functional political system at all.
We have been saying for more than forty years that the nationalist tactic of currying favour with the Unionist community by a rigorously applied hypocrisy of ultra=correct politeness is a waste of effort. The Unionists will not be impressed. Neither will Fianna Fail or Fine Gael as far as Sinn Fein is concerned. Both have been in denial about the realities of Northern Ireland ever since their foundation.
The Unionists have no need to be politically correct in return. They can play the part of virtuously rejecting the advances of a rapist.
Barry McElduff has been browbeaten into resigning his seat in the Parliament which he never attended—and to which he was elected for the declared purpose of not attending it. And the reason is a bit of clowning in a supermarket with a loaf of Kingsmill 50/50 bread.
We have no idea if he had an intention beyond clowning, or, if he had, which bit of the loaf was the message. But the 50/50 would seem to be what is most relevant to the present state of affairs. The Protestant/Unionist majority, if it still exists, is wafter thin, and a Catholic Unionist presence has yet to make itself felt.
Ian Paisley hoped to cultivate a Catholic Unionist development by pleasant relations. The Unionist community was offended by this and rejected him, and the Official Unionists moved into his party in large numbers, so that it no longer knows what it is. All that can be said is that his policy of cultivating pleasant relations with Sinn Fein has been rejected by the DUP.
Is 'Ulster' preparing to fight if it goes down to 49%?
The Dublin Establishment is certainly encouraging it to repudiate the democratic principle of majority decision if it ceases to be the majority.
51% is ample for the legitimation of the Union but would not be good enough for Irish unity! So says Fine Gael and Fianna Fail—parties which until 19 years ago denied constitutionally that Britain had any right to hold the Six Counties in the United Kingdom. What they now say, in effect, is: Ulster is British, regardless.
Barry McElduff might have been telling the Unionists that they are a declining people. They were given a 'State' in which they were 66% and have managed to reduce themselves to 50%.
Or maybe he was referring to the massacre. (But, if that is credible, why does the murderously sectarian bread continue to be sold in the North?)
But doesn't everyone who lives in the reality of the North on the nationalist side know what this massacre was about and what its social effect was? (Or are there some who are able to live in sanctimonious denial every instant of their lives?)
It was a massacre to stop massacres—and at least it did the job much better than the Great War to end war. (Catholic families in the area had been targetted, some constitutional nationalists, others not in politics at all. If there was a common element, it was that the families were well-established in their communities.)
The IRA denies that it did it, and there is good reason to suppose that it didn't. The capacity for purposeful action in the crisis that began in August 1969 preceded the formation of what we know as the IRA. The Defence Committees were impressive before there was an IRA as we know it. Most of them were driven towards the IRA by Jack Lynch's reckless prosecution of John Kelly in 1970, but in some areas the IRA was effective in conjunction with local organisations that did not depend on it.
Well, a massacre was carried out that took pains to be seen as 'sectarian', and that was not in the Republican style. The message seemed to be that, if the Protestants wanted sectarian war, they could have it. And it seemed that they decided not to have it.
The Protestant community was in the extraordinary position of being the majority population in a region where a War was being fought, and having their future at stake in the War, but not being a party to the War.
They had precipitated the War by the action of their communal police force and paramilitaries in August 1969, which brought a new IRA into being. But the IRA made war on he State, not on them, and they were in some very important respects not properly a part of the state which they insisted on being 'connected' with. Their devolved apparatus of state was brushed aside by State authority in September 1969 because of the trouble it caused. It had failed in its role as a buffer between the only legitimate State authority and the projected appearance of a Six County 'state' which it had required the Unionist community to operate as a condition of maintaining "the British connection".
Devolved authority, disconnected from representation in central state authority—an extraordinary arrangement, not repeated with Scottish and Welsh devolution—had provoked instead acting as a buffer. The government of the actual state had to assert itself in its Six County region. And the new IRA declared war on it.
Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour were bewildered by the turn of events in the North, and they didn't know what was going on there. But Rory O'Brady, orientated in the reality of things by his loyalty to the Living Dáil of 1921, knew what was what. He declared war on the Government of the State with the intention of letting the Unionist community be. He hit at the State, reducing the Unionists to the role of onlookers. But all Unionists were not content to be onlookers in a war between others which would decide their fate. They wanted to be involved. And the way they saw to be involved was to kill Catholics for the purpose of encouraging them to turn against the IRA.
(It is quite likely that British Intelligence infiltration of the Loyalists promoted this tactic, which had been used in other colonial situations. Certainly it could claim an honourable precedent. The innocent civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were exterminated by President Truman in order to put pressure on the Japanese Government to surrender, and has never been judged to be immoral by any one of the many United Nations institutions which stand for law, morality, benevolence, mothers and apple pie. Another American motive, even less connected to saving American lives, was to tame the Soviet Union which did not have nuclear weapons at the time._
The probability is that Kingsmill saved lives. But this is something that cannot be said. It is something that is well known but that must not be said. (Well, Susan McKay managed to say it quickly on Radio Ulster on January 17th, after a week of moral humbug, but the programme was quickly hustled away from the subject.)
So we support the Kingsmill Massacre, do we? If stating the whys and wherefores of it can be understood only as supporting it by certain minds—and that is probably the case with many minds down South who keep themselves in virtuous ignorance of Northern realities—well we can only leave them to understand it in that way.
Some time before Kingsmill, Merlyn Rees, the (Labour) Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, guided the Sunningdale Agreement to destruction. Sunningdale was the work of Tory Prime Minister Ted Heath, and his old ruling class assistant, William Whitelaw. Heath, though middle class, had a competent Imperialist grasp of many things. The Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry is most realistically understood as an administrative massacre to test the strength of will of the nationalist community. Jack Lynch phoned him up, seething with indignation, but offered to overlook it if Heath promised that nothing like it would ever happen again. Heath brushed aside the protest and treated the request for promises with contempt. Then he got together with Whitelaw, a highly competent, emollient remnant of the old aristocratic ruling class, and hustled the Unionists and Nationalists into the Sunningdale system of weighted majority rule, without any definite weights, to be conducted under the handling of a Secretary of State. Then Heath lost a General Election and Merlyn Rees took over the Sunningdale system. He was petty bourgeois Labour, with a head full of irrelevant ideals, and effectively the Connolly Association as his adviser. Sunningdale was on the rocks in months.
The Times correspondent in Belfast, Robert Fisk, then wrote a book about the Ulster Workers' Strike called The Strike That Broke The British In Ulster. But the demand of the Ulster Workers' Council was not the abolition of power-sharing, but a slowing down of the implementation of the Council of Ireland dimension of the agreement, in the light of the recent re-assertion of the Dublin Coalition of the Sovereignty claim of the Republic over the Six Counties. (That was in its pleading in response to a legal action brought against it by Kevin Boland.) Rees refused to negotiate with the UWC. When the Strike proved effective, he just pulled own the whole Sunningdale system—which had not been a demand of the Strike. And he drew the same conclusion as Fisk—that British rule in the Six Counties was about to end.
He then assembled Protestant paramilitary leaders at Conferences on the Continent, told them that Britain was going to be pulling out, and advised them to prepare to take matters into their own hands. That was his Ulsterisation policy.
Ulsterisation meant war between the Protestant and Catholic communities in place of war between the IRA and the British Army.
The Kingsmill response of 5th January followed a spate of killings, most notably on the day before when three members of the Reavey family and four members of the O'Dowd families were gunned down. It was an indication that, if Ulsterisation took off, there were effective resources within the Catholic community to fight 'Sectarian' as well as Republican war. It acted as an effective deterrent. And within the Republican movement the line was held against Ulsterisation by Gerry Adams and his associates.
These things cannot be dealt with honestly, largely because of ongoing denial by ;Constitutional Nationalism' (SDLP, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail) that there was ever a Northern Ireland War.
A British Army of 26,000 was deployed in Northern Ireland, which was always declared to be an integral part of the United Kingdom state. After more than a quarter of a century of military effort by the State it was acknowledged that the War was unwinnable. An agreement was struck under which prisoners of war held by the State—as internees at first, and then under spurious criminalisation—were released,, de-criminalised, and invited to play a part in such government as Northern Ireland enjoys.
What is the name for something like this? A war. And what kind of war? Since it was settled within the state in which it was fought, it must be a civil war.
The Free State/Republic asserted a right of Constitutional sovereignty over the North the whole time the War was being fought.
It did not recognise the legitimacy of either belligerent in the War.
It denied that the Six Counties were legitimately held within the British state, and it denied that the Nationalist third of the population in the North had the right to resist the unconstitutional government to which it was subject.
It did not authorise the Provisional IRA to make war on the unConstitutional British Government of the North. But neither did it revoke its assertion of sovereignty over the North. It reserved to itself the right to make war with Britain in the North—that was made clear by the Court Pleading of Drs. C.C. O'Brien and G. FitzGerald against Boland in 1974. That Government said it would never avail of its right to make war on Britain in the North, as did all succeeding Governments, but it reserved that right to itself and condemned the IRA for acting without its authority.
However, the Judicial part of the 'separated' Powers of the state did recognise that the IRA had war-making rights in the North under the Eire Constitution and the Courts prohibited extradition tot he North for military actions committed in the North.
And, on top of all of that, the Dublin Establishment, while being bound by the Constitution to deny that Britain had any right to govern the North, also denied that the form of British government in the North was grossly undemocratic by any standards that could be applied. (The Parties that governed the state excluded the Six Counties from their sphere of operation, and that Party connection between the electorate and the Government of the state is what constitutes democracy in its modern meaning.)
When the Agreement ending the War was made between the IRA and Whitehall in 1998, Dublin got in on the act, and eminent figures were heard to say that this was the concluding act of the Anglo-Irish War—i.e., the one that started in 1919. But the Dublin Government refused to act in accordance with this view. It did not release its prisoners taken in the course of the War and wipe the sheet clean for a fresh start—which Whitehall did in great part.
It used to be the case when Wars were ended by agreement that all events of the War, instead of being raked over as if they were the acts of individuals committed in peacetime, were covered by an Act of Oblivion, either formal or tacitly understood. There was on the British side a substantial gesture in that direction, but in Dublin there was a complete refusal to see incidents in the War as anything but criminal actions committed by people of evil disposition.
And, when Sinn Fein emerged as a major Party in the South—gaining support, not despite its part in the War in the North but because of it—the established Parties began dragging up incidents of the Northern War against it as criminal actions, denying that there ever was a War.
What was required at the end of the War was closure in the form of official consensus that there had been a War—a war of a very unusual kind because of the very unusual kind of government that provoked it—and that individual incidents should be treated as incidents of war.
If that had been done, then individual incidents in the War would long since have entered experience as war incidents. It was chiefly the conduct of the Dublin Establishment that ensured that personal resentment should be the form of remembrance—personal resentment given one=sided public expression.
This is possibly an ongoing effect of the British-imposed, and essentially spurious 'civil war' of 1922-3, encouraged by the Oxbidge influence to which Southern academia offered itself up about forty years ago. But, whatever the cause, it is despicable and inexcusable—unless we have all become Lutheran disbelievers in free will.
About A Loaf Of Bread! Editorial. Barry McElduff's resignation in its context.
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Some thoughts prompted by a reflection on the role of Bishop O'Dwyer of Limerick in the Easter Rising. Brian P. Murphy osb (Part 1 of review of 'The Atlas of the Irish Revolution')
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Cynical Sindo Suggestions Of Sinn Fein Assassination. Manus O'Riordan
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The Russian Revolution. Brendan Clifford (100th Anniversary. Part 3)
January Brexit Summary. Dave Alvey
Biteback: Looking Back Through The Iron Curtain. Donal Kennedy
Courts Set The Tone For The Garda. Tom Cooper
Does It Stack Up? Michael Stack (Bitcoin Bubble; Gender Balance)
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Labour Comment: Fake News and Micheál Martin
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