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From: Irish Political Review: Editorials
Date: January, 2021
By: Editorial

Kilmichael v. Warrenpoint?

Kilmichael v. Warrenpoint?
Brian Stanley (Sinn Fein TD for Laois-Offaly) has given offence to Irish officialdom by drawing a comparison between attacks by the IRA on British elite forces in two Irish wars with Britain: the attack on the Auxiliaries at Kilmichael in 1921 and the attack on British paratroops in 1979.

The War between the Catholic minority in the North and the British Governmentbecause that is what the Northern War was—was fought on a much greater scale than the Anglo-Irish War, and lasted ten times as long, and it ended with leaders of the insurrectionary Army taking positions in the devolved government of the State on which they had made war. What legal sense is there fore be made of that?

A year or two ago there would have been no official ground for expressing horror at the comparison. The Irish State was preparing to celebrate the contribution of the Royal Irish Constabulary to Irish freedom. From that viewpoint, both Kilmichael and Warrenpoint would be seen as atrocities. But popular revulsion at the prospect of honouring a British Fifth Column that had been inserted into Irish life restored Kilmichael to the status it had held before the onset of revisionism. It has ceased to be a criminal atrocity for all but the handful of Trinity cranks who remain loyal to the forger of history, Professor Fitzpatrick, and his minion, Peter Hart. And so it is felt that it is dishonoured by being put on a par with Warrenpoint.

Opinion about legitimacy must be founded on other grounds. And, leaving aside the formalities of law, the case for Warrenpoint is stronger than the case for Kilmichael. The issue in the Anglo-Irish War was extensive Home Rule under the Crown for 26 Counties versus independence from the Crown. Under Home Rule the people would have governed themselves within limits, and through the practice of self-government those limits would have been extended. The Home Rule system would have had some of the

But Kilmichael was a criminal act under the law that prevailed in Ireland. The Irish legal system that was fostered by the Irish Government set up in 1919 was brushed aside by what is called the 'Treaty settlement'. The state set up by Britain in Ireland under the 'Treaty' was a Successor State of the British State. It took responsibility for all that had been done by the British Government. There was a smooth legal transition from Dublin Castle rule to Government based on the Free State Dail.

A Suitable Case

continued from page 1

surprising among embittered Unionists at the time although the writer’s vitriolic language betrays an emotional instability rather than political disillusionment. But what is surprising is that the writer of this letter was A. M. Sullivan KC, the barrister who led for the defence in Casement’s trial. (1)

The Irish system set up on foot of the 1918 Election was discarded as a piece of romantic nonsense. It was not acknowledged that there was ever a period when Ireland was not under the 'rule of law' and in which people could do as they pleased.

And, if there was continuity of law from 1919 to 1923, it was continuity of British law.

collusion Sullivan has long been a problematic

figure in the Casement controversy not only for his intemperate language, his contradictory statements, his improbable allegations, his marked abhorrence for Casement and republicanism (2) but also for his suspect behaviour before and during the trial. His published allegations about Casement are still today considered by some to be evidence for the authenticity of

In actual life this aspect of things was glossed over pragmatically, which means in disregard of the forms of law.

If we take law in earnest, as an autonomous dimension of public life—as it likes to present itself—it is obvious that war cannot be fought within the law. War within the law can only be a conflict

characteristics of a state. It would not have been democratic, in that it did not accord with the ideal that had been voted for, but the grievance would have been rather abstract by comparison with the highly tangible grievance of the nationalist third of the population in the positively undemocratic Northern Ireland system.

What aggravated the nationalist third of the population in the Six Counties was not the fact that it was held against its will within the British state, but that the British State—instead of governing it on a par with the rest of the state—franchised out the business of governing it to the hostile local community which had the Orange Order at its core.

Home Rule in the 26 Counties would have been self-government by the immense majority of the populace. Home Rule in the 6 Counties meant communal rule of two-thirds of the population over a third.

British government through the normal operation of British party politics would have been tolerable, but all of that was stripped away by Whitehall and Orange rule over the hereditary enemy was put in its place, because it served a British purpose of the moment to do this.

NO—there is no substantial ground of comparison between Warrenpoint and Kilmichael.