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|From: Church & State: Editorials|
|Date: April, 2021|
Where Did The Free State And Its Social Welfare System Come From? by Brendan Clifford
|Modern liberal civilisation was produced by white racist imperialism, with the British Empire at its core.
the kind that seem to flourish in exclusive academic circles. He suggests that—
The high point of this Imperialism was, roughly, 1832 to 1914.
Prior to 1832 the Empire was conducted by an aristocratic ruling class which tended to be racially lax compared to what followed.
The 1832 Reform was forced by a threatened capitalist revolution against the monopoly of political power by a landowning, aristocratic ruling class. It opened the corridors of power to the Nonconformist Protestant stratum which, during the century and a half of exclusion from political power, had built up a capitalist civil society which became irresistible.
“Nonconformism” had that name because it did not conform to the rituals of the Anglican State Church, but it was in its own life more stringently conformist than the State religion.
When it entered Parliament and established its ascendancy it left the State religion in place while legislating its own values. The tight structure of the heterosexual nuclear family were established, homosexuality was criminalised as a class struggle blow against aristocracy, and racism was systematised.
What liberalism has been destroying in recent times was what it built up in the great Liberal era of Queen Victoria.
For about half a century Liberalism was the ideology of laissez-faire capitalism. It was confident that British world dominance could be maintained by free trade, backed up by an unequalled power of manufacture, without the structure of Empire.
But then—coincidentally with the multitude of German petty kingdoms cohering into a national state, developing a strong capitalist economy, and realising that it needed a Navy to protect its foreign trade—British capitalist liberalism became imperialist in popular ideology.
The 1832 Reform was followed by others, chiefly those of the 1860s and 1880s. The latter brought the upper strata of the working class into the Parliamentary franchise.
By this time the dependence of the general standards of living in Britain on the proceeds of Empire had become unmistakeable. Imperialism became the kind of mass ideology that Free Trade had been in the 1830s. In the 1890s the governing circles began to think that full democracy might be introduced on the ground of popular Imperialism without endangering the system.
The President recently made some remarks about the British Empire which provoked a reply from the Regius Professor of Theology at Oxford, Nigel Bigger (President’s View Of British Empire Is Incomplete. Irish Times, March 3). The reply is in the nature of defensive apologetics, depending on quibbles of
"the President has drunk too deeply at the well of theory, causing him to misread the diverse historical phenomena of the British empire in terms of seamlessly pejorative abstractionssuch as ‘domination’, ‘othering’ and ‘violence’. Yet reflection on the facts of political life suggests that every state must be in the business of dominating, if it is to perform its basic function of preserving the good of public order. And sometimes that domination must be violent… The Irish Free State discovered that early in its existence…"
What this means is that general statements should never be made because some particular detail can always be found which is at variance with them.
"Sometimes it [the British Empire] slaughtered the innocent, infamously at Amritsar in 1919, but its greatest violence was directed at European fascism, against which, from May 1940 to June 1941, it was the only military force in the field—except for Greece…"
We would have thought the greatest British act of violence in the Liberal era was the suppression of what Britain called the Indian Mutiny.
Its great military exploit in May/June 1940 was an escape from the battlefield, to which it had contributed a very small Army compared with France.
The War it declared in 1939 was a war on Germany, not on Fascism. During the preceding five years it had helped fascist Germany shrug off the restrictions imposed on it by the Versailles Treaty.
The British violence directed against Germany between the French Armistice of June 1940 and June 1941 was very slight indeed.
Greece was not at war with Fascism. It might itself have been described as a fascist country. It was at war with Italy, and was doing rather well at it until Britain pressed military support on it, which brought Germany into the war as an ally of Italy.
Fascist Spain and fascist Portugal had no British violence directed against them. Britain was very content to let them be.
The Regius Professor makes a very poor generalisation when he says that the greatest British act of violence was directed against Fascism. Surely he must have known that Churchill—who continued the war with minimal action for a year until Stalin was brought in to win it for Communism—had made a pilgrimage to Rome to praise Mussolini and Fascism.
And, as to “domination”: what substantial comparison is there between the domination by the Free State in Southern Ireland in 1922-23 and the domination imposed by the British State, by acts of violence, on the other side of the world?
2 The Free State, when it went to war in June 1922, was not an established state structure defending itself against “grave threats” that had to be “fended off”. It consisted of a group within the Sinn Fein movement which made a deal with the British State under which it was to be established as the State power in the 26 Counties in exchange for suppressing the system of Republican Government established on the mandate of the 1918 Election.
It was not itself a State power. It was far from commanding a monopoly of force, which is usually taken to be the hallmark of a State. The main force of the Army that had obliged Britain to negotiate terms was against it. Without British backing it could not have hoped to establish its dominance over he country. But the reason it aligned itself with Britain against the Republican Army was to ward off the Imperial reconquest threatened by Britain if it did not do so.
The Treaty War was a really bad example for the Regius Professor to have brought up. It was not a war to defend a State. It was a war to construct a new State by means of naked force backed by an outside party. Its main task was the conquest of Munster.
The British State itself, securely established for more than two centuries, was founded on the Williamite wars, whose battles were fought in Ireland. It was consolidated politically under the Prime Ministership of Walpole in the early 18th century. Its great acts of violence thereafter (aside from the slaughter at Culloden) all had the purpose had the purpose of establishing British State dominance over others.
The word domination is applied by the Regius Professor both to the position of State authority over a willing domestic population, and the forcible subjugation of other populations around the world regardless of their willingness.
The Irish Times is scraping the barrel for kindred spirits these days.
An Irish Government independent of Britain and free of the Home Rule mentality was set up in January 1919. It did not possess dominant military power in Ireland. In the first instance it possessed no military power at all. It was merely a democracy.
Britain at the time was the greatest military power in the world. It had greatly expanded the territory of the Empire by war, had broken up rival Empires and created new states by mere act of will to serve its purposes. And it launched a democratic order in the world by creating the League of Nations.
It had resisted democracy until it could be made advantageous to the Imperial interest. And, having become democratic itself, it had to be master of the democracy which it sponsored. It was casuistically democratic and would not fall prey to a mere counting of heads.
In January 1919 it expected that it would be able to brush aside the Irish Government based on mere voting power. But, despite its victory over Germany, and the humiliating settlement it imposed on Germany, it had been severely damaged in its entrails by the stubbornness of the German resistance. And, in order to defeat the Germans, it had had to subordinate itself to the USA both financially and militarily.
Where Did The Free State And Its Social Welfare System Come From?
Brendan Clifford Trinity Seeks Special Treatment—Again!
Jack Lane A Singular Man!
Stephen Richards on George Borrow Schrodinger: A Postcript!
Pat Muldowney Vox Pat: Legacies; Porn!; Gender?; Jews;
Sex Outreach; Execution; WW2; Benjamin Disraeli; Casement's Resting Place; Democracy; Age Concern; Blackballed! The Religious Revolution
Dreaming! Nick Folley Pope Paul VI's Populorum Progressio Contributed by Michael Robinson In Memoriam: The Irish Press Donal Kennedy Throwing Off The Overalls!
Wilson John Haire In Praise Of Catherine Coll De Valera Wheelwright Manus O'Riordan Solzhenitsyn's Two Centuries Together (17) Self-Defence (Pogroms, Part 6) Peter Brooke Boomtime Bob Caught In His Own Rat Trap Dave Alvey
By 1922 it was clear that it was damaged goods in the new order of things in the world. As it was installing its Free State in Ireland in place of the Republic, it was also conceding Naval supremacy on the insistence of the United States, and ended its alliance with its Imperial ally in the Far East, Japan, at the demand of the United States.
And it was selling out the Greeks who it had encouraged to invade and annex parts of Turkey, and conceding independence to the Turkish rebels who had refused to comply with the Treaty imposed on the Sultan. It called on the Empire and Colonies to come to the aid of the Greeks. The call fell on deaf ears. The War Coalition, which had won a landslide victory in the 1918 Election, fell. An era of Imperial drift set in.
But Ireland had been brought to order. The merely democratic Republic was destroyed and elements were drawn from it to establish a British-authorised state in its place.
The Free State was a state established on British authority. It was established on British insistence. Without British support it would not, and could not, have been established. Its establishment aborted the process of establishing a state from Irish sources that had been going on for three years.
The Free State was a state structure established in the 26 Counties on British authority when Whitehall reckoned that direct British government of the region was no longer sustainable. It justified the British Government in all that it had been doing since January 1919 to suppress the elected Irish Government. And it continued the laws and arrangements of the British state system established in Ireland since the Union of 1800, and swept aside the developments towards an Irish legal system that had been going on since the Declaration of Independence in January 1919.
The construction of the Free State as an authoritative State force asserting a practical monopoly on the political use of violence began on 28th June 1922, when the headquarters of the Republican Army was shelled with borrowed British artillery by Michael Collins.
A Dail election for the territory of the 26 Counties had been held six days earlier. It was held under terms agreed by both parties, Treatyites and AntiTreatyites, which had been authorised by the Dail on May 20th. The terms were that the two parties should contest
the election as a national Coalition and should form a Coalition Government in the new Dail when it met on July 1st.
Collins had defended his signing of the ‘Treaty’ with the argument that it gave freedom to achieve freedom. If he had carried through the election on the terms agreed by the Dail, he would have proved his case.
But, after the election and before the meeting of the new Dail, he made warwith British artillery—on the headquarters of the Republican Army. This was done on the insistence of Whitehall, whose purpose was to break up the Republican structure in Ireland.
The de facto construction of the Free State as an actual state—i.e., as a Government commanding an actual monopoly of the apparatus of force—began with the shelling of the Four Courts and continued with the military conquest of large areas of the country.
When the Dail elected in mid-June eventually met in September, the Free State conquest of the country was in full swing. Its first action was to break the terms on which the Election that returned it were held. Only members who took Treaty Oath were admitted to it. The actual State that was being established was, across a wide spectrum of affairs, a continuation of the administration established by Britain.
This fact is particularly relevant to the Mother And Baby Homes Commission Of Investigation Final Report.
[The comment which follows concerns a printed volume with the titele given above. This volume was received in response to a request to the Department, on behalf of a survivor, for a copy of the Report. As were were about to go to print, we discovered that an Internet version of the Report is subsantially different from the printed version. There has not been time to figure out how the two versions relate to each other. It was decided to go ahead with this version, which the Department chose to issue in response to a request, and possibly deal with the other version later. Editor.]
The Report has a table of Contents which tells us that there is a Chapter 3, dealing with The Situation Prior To 1922.
I looked up Chapter 3. But I couldn’t find it. The Contents doesn’t give page numbers. In fact there is no continuous
numbering through the volume of 314 pages. Different sections are numbered separately. The different sections in the actual volume are not listed in the Contents, and the five Parts and 36 Chapters listed in the Contents are not to be found in the text.
An Executive Summary tells us that “The Commission’s Terms of Reference cover the period 1922-1998”. That explains why there is nothing about the period prior to the formation of the Free State. But why the pretence in the Contents that there is a chapter about The Situation prior to 1922 ?
The Report does not describe the formation in 1922 of the system it is investigating—for the very good reason that it was not formed in 1922 but was a continuation of the British system.
The fact that the system investigated by the Commission was in existence prior to 1922 is obliquely acknowledged by a sentence in Paragraph 49 of the Executive Summary:
“In the 19th century Ireland there was intense competition between religious denominations to save the souls of orphaned, abandoned and destitute children including the children of unmarried mothers and this continued into the 20th century”.
If the view of the Commission was that the system should not have existed, that it was an evil institution, then surely it should have traced it to its origins, instead of beginning with 1922, when it was already well established?
And it was the opinion of the Commission that the system should not have existed: “The women and children should not have been in institutions” (Para 15 of Executive Summary). If the women should not have been in the institutions, it follows that the institutions should not have existed.
Para 46 of the Executive Summary:
“Church and State attitudes. The Catholic Church did not invent Irish attitudes to prudent marriages or family respectability: however, it reinforced them through church teachings that emphasised the importance of premarital purity and the sexual dangers associated with dance halls, immodest dress, mixed bathing and other sources of ‘temptation’. In the 1920s, the Irish Free State was a newly-independent nation which was determined to show the world that it was different; part of that difference related to the capacity to withstand the undesirable aspects
4 of modernity, including sexual licence and alien cultures. There was a strong alignment of views between church and State, resulting in legislation against contraception, divorce, censorship of cinema and publications that was bolstered by church sermons denouncing sexual immorality and the evils of modern society. Priests who denounced a man or woman who was held responsible for an extra-marital pregnancy were reinforcing wider social concerns with family lineage and the respectability of a community.”
A strong alliance was forged between the Free State and the Catholic Church because the founders of the Free State were obliged by Whitehall to make war on the Republican movement and that meant exorcising from themselves the Republican spirit which had driven the War of Independence. They turned to the Church for spiritual support against Republicans and made themselves Puritan Catholics in the process.
I was very puzzled by the novels of John McGahern in which men were the bearers of stern religious attitudes. I grew up in a culture in which men engaged in minimal compliance with religious doctrine, and it was women who tended to be religious beyond the sphere of customary routine. I did not understand at the time that male religiosity was a Free State characteristic. (The Republicans on whom the Free State made war were excommunicated, but they took it in their stride, changing nothing because of it.)
Film censorship was a British institution. Films shown in Ireland around 1950 all showed the British Film Censors’ authorisation. And the British Film Censor had established a relationship with Hollywood producers under which they cleared scripts with him (especially on Irish themes) before going into production.
Certainly there were sermons preached against dance halls, immodest dress and sexual dangers, but all of these things were very popular, and attempts at interference by the clergy to give effect to their sermons were not tolerated.
As to “alien cultures”, I cannot recall ever hearing a sermon on that themeand, as a busy altar-boy in a rural parish, I heard a great many sermons.
When I moved from rural Ireland to Britain in the mid-1950s, it did not strike me that the English were in these matters significantly different from the
rural Irish—and Ireland was then predominantly rural.
Paragraph 45 says:
“Fleeing to Britain. Many pregnant women fled to Britain to protect this secrecy [of unmarried pregnancy], only to face the prospect of being returned to Ireland against their wishes.”
Who deported them? Any Irish born before 1948 were British in British law. And I never heard that the Irish decision to leave the Commonwealth in 1948 made all future Irish into aliens in Britain. If it was the case that Irish girls born after 1948, who fled to England with an unmarried pregnancy in the 1960s were deported, one would expect the Commission to give some details.
An Introduction to the Executive Summary says:
“Ireland was a cold harsh environment for many, probably the majority, of its residents during the earlier half of the period under review. It was especially cold and harsh for women. All women suffered serious discrimination.”
Well, maybe most of us were miserable but were duped into imagining that we weren’t! Or maybe it was the case that we ought to have felt miserable because of the circumstances we were in but we didn’t, and that now we should repent and try to make amends for having experienced life falsely by engaging in an exercise in retrospective existential revisionism of experience.
Sexual discrimination was built into human existence by nature.
The ideologically dominant view in the media just now is that throughout human existence women have been oppressed by men. The ground of that oppression is that it is a man’s world and women are not men.
The role of women has been to reproduce the species. Men are necessary to the process of reproduction, but their necessary part in it could be performed in a couple of minutes of the nine-month cycle of pregnancy and the many months of breast feeding that went into the production of a viable child.
And so men had time on their hands, and with that time they made the complicated world that we live in.
That world in its present mode of existence is the work of the WASPS, the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. They claimed to be its creators, and the claim is well-founded. Globalist Capitalism is
the work of British Imperialism and its American colonial offspring. And, in its development, it somehow brought about in the increasing numbers of the women involved in it a fundamental discontent with the fact that they were women.
Charlotte Bronte, Yorkshire daughter of an Ulster Protestant clergymen, spent some time in Catholic Belgium as a governess. In the novels based on that experience Catholics are seen as being fat, stupid and happy.
Can happiness based on stupidity be authentic? Is mere contentment to be tolerated in a world that is there to be saved?
Margaret Thatcher, the first woman Prime Minister, abolished the official economic category of “Housewife” for women. It was demeaning for women to allow them to rest passively in that mediaeval condition. They must be active economic units, out in the market, producing and consuming in their own right. If they did not have the impulse of freedom in them, then they must be forced to be free. The higher purpose of life needs it, and the market needs it.
Women are not breeding animals after all. The decision whether to have a family, Mrs. Thatcher said, is only “a particular life-style choice”.
Of course it was not Mrs. Thatcher who undermined the family as the building-block of society. She only gave it the finishing touch. The family had become an object of suspicion long before her. And the English population had long ceased to depend on it. Bernard Shaw, in his capacity as social commentator, had noticed in the early twentieth century that, around the middle of the 19th century, the English population had stopped reproducing itself and that people had begun to be imported.
That is to say that the English population was kept up by the breeding activity of women in other societies. The Irish were the first source of supply. Then around 1950 the labour shortage was so acute that Enoch Powell, who is usually regarded as a white racist, went on a recruiting campaign for population in the West Indies. A generation later an Indian population, with which the Empire had sought to colonise East Africa, was rejected by a development of African nationalism and transferred to England.
People flooded into England but the population scarcely increased. It was like the Jordan and the Dead Sea. That appears to be the hallmark of modernity.
5 Ireland has become modern during the past half-century. And, from the modern vantage point, the whole of human history up to the present moment has been a story of misery and oppression for almost everybody, and within that general oppression men have exercised an oppression of women that is particularly hateful. What is to be done about it?
That oppression of women by men throughout history rests on the fact that women are not men and that the order of the world was made by men, while women kept the race in being.
That hateful relation was not experienced as hateful and oppressive throughout all that era. It is now experienced retrospectively as oppressive by an influential stratum of women within the centres of Imperialist Capitalism.
It appears that most women remain absorbed with the fascination of heterosexual relations and put up with many irritants because of it. That might be called the Tiresias factor. In ancient Greece Tiresias discovered that, in the matter of sex, considered by itself, women had the more satisfying part in it. He was blinded by Athena for blurting out what the goddesses had been keeping secret.
There has always been a stratum of women who found heterosexual relations distasteful. For a thousand years the Roman Church made provision for such women to have a part in social life, or to retire from society altogether, through Orders of Nuns of many different kinds. The Protestant Reformation took strong objection to the existence of “nunneries” and indulged in lurid fantasies about them which seem to have functioned both as propaganda and as an acceptable form of pornography, with the result that English society was without institutions for women whose inclinations were professional rather than domestic and reproductive.
The nuclear, bourgeois family was tightly structured by the rise to political power in the 19th century of Liberal Protestant Capitalist England—which is also known as Victorian England. Sexual aberrations which did not fit the ideal of the nuclear family were criminalised in a form of class struggle against the aristocratic ruling class that had made the State, and a transcendental struggle to establish mastery over Nature and its unheeding preoccupation with reproduction.
The nuclear family was the official
ideal of society and was treated in the influential literature of the time as being a virtually accomplished fact. But Nature and aristocracy would not lie down. What existed in reality was a far-reaching division of labour between housewife and whore. There were millions of virtuous housewives and millions of whores—and it began to be seen that there were complementary. And path-breakers in bourgeois literature began to suggest that housewifery was itself a form of prostitution—though not of whoredom, of course. Hints of this view entered polite society in some plays of Bernard Shaw.
The emancipation of women began the transition from ideal to reality with the 1918 Reform Act. By the late 1920s women had the vote at the same age as men, but it happened somehow that men kept on running the world.
This might be attributed to the fact that women were physically unsuited to do the work that men did and that this kept them in a secondary position. But the development of machines for labour discounted that difference, especially when combined with Artificial Intelligence.
Fifty years ago the B&ICO held a conference with the Gay Liberation Front. Feminists seemed to be dominant within the GLF, and they obviously felt that the position of women in society had hardly improved at all.
A forceful Dublin woman (who had been in the BICO for a while) explained that the imposition by nature of the burden of childbirth on women was the great obstacle to equality. Women would be oppressed until another mode of reproduction was invented. There was a good prospect of incubated babies being produced in the near future and that was when freedom for women would begin to be realised.
With the role of sex difference in reproduction being set aside by technology, there could be uniformity of men and women, and therefore equality in the other affairs of the world.
Andrea Dworkin saw the matter from a different angle. She was much taken with Tolstoy, both as the horrible example of the existing situation and the analyst of it. In War And Peace he comments that a well-bred young lady on the eve of marriage would be shocked to the core if she knew what was in store for her—which was rape. Then in the Kreuzer Sonata he expresses disgust with the sexual game that goes on shamelessly all the time between the sexes.
As far as I recall, he treats the overcoming of it as the moral Christian purpose. When it was overcome, the Christian mission in the world would have succeeded, and the human race would be saved and would cease to exist.
Dworkin’s ideal figure in human history seems to have been Joan of Arc who, living among men, was not only sexless herself but exuded an aura which switched off the sex impulse in men.
Life is problematic for the stratum of women for whom doing what nature intended is repulsive and from whom the orderly structures for living apart from nature have been withdrawn. They must live within the world made by men and try to reorder it, but the more they assault it, and the more successful they are in that assault, the more sensitive they become to its durability, and the more oppressed they feel.
Laboratory reproduction has made little headway in half a century. The family has been more or less abolished in much of Europe. Population is kept up by imports from less progressive societies, who bring the family spirit with them and have to be indoctrinated out of it. A basic idea is that women are not sex objects and must not be looked at as if they were, but television programmes on British TV like Naked Attraction present them for the masses as sex objects to be studied in detail and assessed. And instruction is given on how to be whoreish.
This is England. But England today is Ireland tomorrow.
England established Puritan Liberalism as the official order of things. After a few generations, it began to chafe under that order and set about breaking it down. It is now trying to reconstruct some other order of life, guided by some incoherent ideal, a contradictory ideal whose emphasis changes from week to week.
England constructed the legal order of things in Ireland in its era of Liberal/ Puritan dominance of the world. Within this order of things, the Irish population reconstructed itself socially out of the morass to which it had been reduced by the wars, conquests and punitive settlements of Elizabeth, Cromwell, and William, and asserted itself against England.
The order of things described as “cold and harsh” by the Commission Report regarding unmarried mothers was established by the British Government: a fact which the Com-
6 mission was too timid even to mention.
Once Irish national development was resumed by applying that order in a particular way, it was not experienced as “cold and harsh” but as purposeful.
The people took themselves in hand, using the vehicle of Papal Catholicism, as opposed to Gaelic Catholicism, in order to survive to live again in the harsh world of Manchester Capitalism in its hey-day.
That approach was continued after Independence, very high-mindedly, by the Treaty regime. It began to be amended in some degree by the anti-Treaty regime but the weight of a system established by law and practice over many generations is not easily shifted, and there was no serious popular discontent with it. Effective independence was not gained until 1938. Then the application of that independence to the World War was absorbing.
I was out of joint with prevailing opinion on the point of religion all through my teens, and was certainly not predisposed in favour of things as they were, and I know that the Commission’s generalisation that the country was “cold and harsh” for the majority was wildly off the mark. (At least that is not how it was experienced—and can it have been the case if it was not experienced so?)
The generalisation seems to be a deduction from the fact that births outside marriage were described as illegitimate. The Commission Report puts the word in quotation marks, suggesting that there is actually no such thing as an illegitimate birth, and that the order of things in which this inhuman classification was used was itself illegitimate.
Well, while nature in its apparently blind drive for reproduction might appear to be in tune with the Christian injunction to be like the birds of the air to give no thought for the morrow, one finds that there is actually a strict order of things in nature, maintained by devices which have been discarded in the human, and that powerful human societies have usually found artificial ways of producing order, despite the freedom into which nature has thrown the human.
“We multiplied by neglect and plenty like cattle on the shores of South America”—those are the words of an Irish Catholic writer of the early 19th century, describing Irish society as it emerged
from a couple of centuries of disruptive interference by Britain, and from the perverting influence of the Penal order of the colonial Parliament. (“Plenty” was supplied by the rackrented potato patch.)
That is pre-Famine Ireland. It went under in the Famine. A new order of things came out of the Famine, inspired by Young Ireland and Carlyle, and supplemented by Cardinal Cullen—the order of things deplored by the Commission.
But for that new order of things, native Ireland would probably have withered and the colony would have become Ireland.
But the new order was not universally applied in the way described by the Commission. The boy I knew best when I was growing up was illegitimate, but nobody told me he was. It was only much later that I understood that he was and that when a nickname was not used (as nicknames usually were) two different surnames were used. His mother was unmarried but she sang in the local choir, and sang in a very noticeable way, always slightly out of tune. There was another unmarried mother in a Labourer’s Cottage about a mile to the west, which I also understood later. And, in the mid-1950s, there was a bit of agitation over the award of a Labourer’s Cottage to another unmarried mother about two miles to the east. That was the only incident I knew of concerning illegitimacy. The protest was over-ruled. She got the cottage.
Then, very much later, I got to know that a daughter of a small farmer, who lived at the eastern end of the County and rarely visited, and who was something like my third cousin, had been transferred out of the area and arrangements made for her under some pretext, because she was unmarried and pregnant. When I asked why she had to leave, when the unmarried mother of the boy I mentioned sang in the choir, it was explained that it was a matter of pretensions to middle class respectability on the part of her family.
I understand that particular arrangements for particular cases are no longer tolerable in Ireland. The English fashion of uniformity has superseded it. Haughey’s “Irish solution for an Irish problem” is ridiculed. The practical meaning of that is that there must be English solutions. But the Irish arrangement of things now condemned
in the Commission Report is an English arrangement—which the Commission did not have the courage, or the intellectual conscience, to say.
* The Irish Times on 20th March carried a long extract from a book by its Berlin correspondent, Derek Scally, which it describes as “a memoir of a Catholic childhood in Ireland. Derek Scally grapples with the country’s self-image as the ‘most oppressed people ever’…” It seems that the book is entitled The Best Catholics In The World.
I first heard the phrase “the most oppressed people ever”, or MOPE, in Belfast around 1990. It seemed to come from Smart Alecs in the University. It certainly was not the “self-image” in Slieve Luacra. Nor did I ever hear it said that the Irish were the best Catholics in the world. That could hardly be the opinion of people who let the priest be denounced during Mass in the Church on the anniversary of the Decree of Ezcommunication issued by the Bishop against the anti-Treatyites during the Treaty War. The spirit of it was that they were still Catholics despite the English and would remain Catholics despite the Bishops.
Scally does not cite these two phrases from his own Catholic childhood somewhere—I don’t know where, as his biography has been removed from the Internet. He takes them from Liam Kennedy, a Tipperary Catholic who has become an anti-Catholic lecturer in Queen’s, Belfast, and has failed to notice that Northern Ireland is a region of the British state which is excluded from the democratic political life of the British state, and that undemocratic government has consequences.
And both of them seem to be entirely unaware of the great dispute amongst Catholics between 1818 an 1828 over how the Church in Ireland was to be governed, the Veto Controversy, which had far-reaching consequences.
About thirty years ago a Habsburg princess married into the English aristocracy and was interviewed about Austrian Catholicism on Raidio Eireann. She tried to explain that Austrian Catholics did not think about religion. Austrians were Catholics and that was all there was to say.
Catholicism in Ireland would probably be in that healthy condition if the Vetoists had won. And Slieve Luachra in my time there was very much like that.
Further comment must wait on the appearance of Scally’s book.