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If the sight of Martin McGuinness at state occasions repulses you, blame the Tory Party

11 April 2014

11 April 2014

Well, those who get themselves worked up about the presence of Martin McGuinness around the Royal Family would not have enjoyed last night’s musical extravaganza, Ceiliuradh, for the Irish president at the Albert Hall. They’d have been on their own, mind you. Everyone else had a ball; it was a packed house for Elvis Costello plus Fiona Shaw and Dermot O’Leary, but the knockout element was the combined band of the Irish Guards and the Irish Defence Force doing the Minstrel Boy, which made me cry. That was a nice touch: Tom Moore, its author, was lionised in London as much as in Ireland. And there in the Royal Box, alongside the president were Prince and Princess Michael of Kent — it was, I have to say, the first time I’ve heard a packed house raise a modest cheer for Princess Michael; she beamed.

But there, tucked away behind them, so far as I could make out, gawking from below, was Martin McGuinness who seemed to be chatting quite comfortably with Peter Robinson. It may have been a hateful spectacle for the pundits who find Mr McGuinness’s presence anywhere intolerable; I thought the sight rather moving. I don’t myself have time for the notion that bygones should be bygones to the extent that any charges for murder during the Troubles should be dropped, on either side — I was really pleased to hear about the Omagh bombing prosecution — but, unless anyone has got any actual evidence to convict Mr McGuinness, then I think he’s better in constitutional politics and welcome at the party, than out of it.

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The interesting question, really, is why we got where we are now; why constitutional politics failed in Ireland when it really could have succeeded. And for that the British Tory Party can take a bow. A hundred years ago exactly, as I’ve mentioned before, there was the opportunity to resolve the question through the usual parliamentary methods, though the First and Second Home Rule bills bit the dust. But when the Third Home Rule bill was passed, it was vitiated by the exclusion of Ulster, first temporarily, then permanently. And the reason for this was that British Tories colluded with the militant Ulster Unionists who formed an illegal mass — and I mean, mass — paramilitary movement to resist the workings of parliamentary democracy and were backed to the hilt by the Tories under Bonar Law, and deferred to by Liberals, though mention must also be made of the British officer cadre who refused to obey the instructions of their political masters to take action against the militants.

It’s all there in Ronan Fanning’s admirable recent book, Fatal Path. Mind you, there’d have had to be some kind of exclusion for bits of Ulster but not to the extent that happened, and not by this abject concession to violence and the threat of violence. Non talis modo. The upshot was that the authority of John Redmond, the Irish parliamentary leader, was undermined, and more radical republicans, Sinn Fein, replaced him, with the happy results we have found.

To understand the problem of Martin McGuinness we have to put him in context and the context really does have to go back at least that far. And since David Cameron doesn’t mind doing apologies, one on behalf of the disgraceful behaviour of his party a century ago would be nice.


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Show comments
  • AMS2013

    The sight of Britain occupying Ireland repulses me..actually.
    And then these numpties attack Russia..Just for doing what the Brits did in Ireland.
    This repulses me also.
    The Hypocrisy of it all.

  • MacRiada

    Dear Melanie,

    Well done. There is, within the British society today, a tendency to pretend that their country always favoured constitutional settlement, but ‘militant nationalists’ meant they had to partition the country etc.

    The truth is that if Britain recognised democratic constitutional means, then:

    (a) Ireland would have peacefully left the UK with Daniel O’Connell in the early 19th century -sadly the British threatened this peaceful movement with military force;
    (b) Home Rule would have been introduced to the whole country on the, first time of asking in the 19th century;
    (c) But for the Conservative party arming militant unionists and the British establishment encouraging them and giving them active support to partition the country, etc., then Home Rule would have been introduced, even despite all the incredible delays -(think of how patient the Irish people were, look at how many times the IPP pushed forward Home Rule on behalf of the Irish people after the disaster of Great Famine etc.)

    Britain’s failure to recognise the democratic will of the Irish people, and its militant attempt to block the will of the Irish people led to the reaction in 1916 and the chain of events thereafter.

    Furthermore, even if one accepts the reason for partition…well then the people south of that arbitrarily constructed border had a right to self determination, which Britain STILL interferred with militarily!

    It was quite clear that the people of Irish Free State wished to be fully independent of Britain, however, the British Government threatened the people of the Irish Free State with ‘immediate an terrible war’ unless they accepted the terms of the treaty which inter alia meant that they had to accept an oath of allegiance to an Empire they would remain a dominian of etc.

    In short, in the recent relevant constitutional history of these islands, Britain is not the honest broker it likes to portray itself as.

    • CraigStrachan

      I think it’s fair to say that Britain was ultimately forced to accept the independence of the South as an expression of the self-determination of the greater number of people there.

      And the Republican Movement has, rather more recently, been forced to accept the position of Northern Ireland within the UK as an expression of the self-determination of the greater number there.

      • MacRiada

        I think it is fair to say that Britain makes it up as it goes along.
        Good to see it now knows the error of its ways, and wont repeat them in Scotland.
        Tell me, why did the northern government force Tyrone and Fermanagh into its new state?
        I guess there is a limit to self-determination!

        • CraigStrachan

          Well, the border was agreed by the elected governments of the North, South and Britain. Not everyone was happy, (including my great-grandfather whose farm in eastern Donegal was left out!)

          • MacRiada

            No, it was agreed under the threat of ‘immediate and terrible war’.
            How much longer can you run away from facing up to your hypocrisy?
            You say that northern unionists, as a minority, had a right to create their own state rather than recognise the democratic process.
            But they ALSO could deny the same right to a third of the counties in the northern state, when they sent in police to dissolve the councils of Tyrone and Fermanagh after they declared loyalty to the Dáil.
            You can blame unionists for the split of the farm, as you know they chose to leave the rest of Ulster out, because the numbers would not be conducive to unionist political strategy.
            Basically, unionism makes it up as it goes along.
            It says it believes in constitutional democracy -but we get events such as 1912; it says it believes in self determination, but it denied self determination to the people in a huge swathe of its newly formed territory.

            • CraigStrachan

              No, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was agreed under threat of war – although war was the present state of Ireland at the time, and on-going war is often the result of failure to agree a treaty.

              The border was finalized a couple of years later, with Cosgrave signing off on it for the Free State.

              • MacRiada

                So there was no border prior to the boundary commission?

                • CraigStrachan

                  Of course there was. The boundary commission confirmed it.

                • MacRiada

                  And…when was that pre-existing border formalised?
                  During the Treaty which was signed under the threat of immediate and terrible war…

                • CraigStrachan

                  There was a war actually happening, never mind threatened, before the Treaty was agreed!

                • MacRiada

                  Yes, because Britain did not accept that the Irish people had chosen to establish their own parliament. Approx 80 out of 100 elected representatives formed the first Dáil.
                  If Britain accepted the democratic will of the people and let their representatives govern, then their would have been no war.
                  The threat made during the treaty negotiations was abominable.
                  It flied in the face of everything Britain likes to boast about itself.

                • CraigStrachan

                  It’s not at all clear to me that the Westminster general electon of 1919 constituted a mandate for an independent 32-county Ireland.

    • Chingford Man

      That would be true – except that you can’t speak of a “democratic will of the Irish people” taken on an all-island basis when a sizeable minority of the population didn’t consider themselves part of the political “demos” and were concentrated in a defensible corner of the island.

      But if your argument is that the Protestants should not have been allowed to opt out of the Irish demos, then does that not make you essentially an Irish nationalist imperialist?

      • MacRiada

        Ireland entered the Union with Britain as one entity, one nation -it had a single parliament, based in Dublin etc., etc.
        When the vast vast majority wanted the return of that parliament, their democratic wishes should not have been obstructed by anti-democratic means, and outside forces promoting ignorance and stoking up fears and providing support and weapons.
        The unionists in the North forced Tyrone and Fermanagh into their state -do you pick and chose the limit of self-determination?
        When the majority of Northern Ireland vote to re-join the rest of their country, will unionists seek to re-partition the bit they have already partitioned?
        The Ulster unionists (I speak of the senior members who to a greater or lesser degree played on the fears of the mass movement), made a total mess of things.
        The British public and media have yet to fully understand and disseminate
        the massive negative impact the events of 1912 had on the rest of the century.
        We must all work for the reconciliation of this island, and its people.
        We are all one people.

  • HookesLaw

    Oh dear – ‘its saturday’ – ‘blame the tory party’. ‘there are 7 days in the week’ – ‘blame the tory party’.
    What another pathetic load of tosh from McDonaugh.

    • Kennybhoy

      She was speaking in historical terms you central office hack!

    • MacRiada

      Question: Did the Conservative party provide militant unionists with weapons in 1912, to enable them to resist the democratic will of 80% of the Irish people?

      Question: Do you believe the Conservative party should do this again in Scotland?

    • Kaine

      Actually, on the two articles on Ireland I’ve had to double check the author because everything she’s written has been erudite, factual and spot on. The difference between it and her usual culture-war trash on hospitals burning babies and gays crucifying the pious is remarkable.

  • Radford_NG

    About 1972 the hard minded Marxist men who commanded SF/IRA declared there was no-longer any place for the Armed Struggle (terrorism) in the Irish political situation and ordered the disbandment of the IRA.Hot headed young Maoists like McGuinness and Adams refused to obey and formed the Provos and went on their terrorist campaign.

    • Radford_NG

      The Troubles arose out of the Bigotry of the one party and the murderous hatred of the other.

      Blair followed a policy which side-lined all the decent parties [moderate Unionists and SDLP] and left those who had caused The Troubles–the Bigots and Terrorists–ruling in Stormont.

      We have a saying in England : We’ve nothing against the Irish;it’s just those bastards in the North we can’t stand.

      • HookesLaw

        The voters put the parties in power.

    • Frank

      I think that there is an interesting topic for consideration one day, namely why didn’t the British army whack Gerry, Martin and the top unionists, eg Paisley? I am not suggesting anything, just curious.

      • HookesLaw

        It was illegal?

        • Frank

          Ignore legalities, just wondering whether it would have been better for society in the long run?

        • Kennybhoy

          And you wonder why I lose the heid wi them …?

      • Kaine

        One assumes an agreement was come to. Personally I await the, post-humous, memoirs with great interest.

        • Frank

          Yes indeed.

  • Chingford Man

    I think it’s stretching it a bit to try to connect the actions of Law, Smith, Long et al to the modern rise of Sinn Fein in a long chain of causation.

    This week McGuinness rather reminded me of a troublesome medieval baron forced to pay fealty to his kingly overlord. It’s not a good idea for any unionist to point this out too loudly. But it’s true nevertheless.

  • William Clark

    Melanie McDonagh is hardly a neutral witness – one-eyed pro-Roman Catholic, one-eyed pro-Irish from an Irishwoman – every thing I have ever read of hers makes that clear – anyone with more than half a dozen brain cells can tell that. Fact of the matter is that people are very tolerant of her, probably out of a desire not to be nasty to the Hibernian, and also fear that she would cry ‘racist’ pretty smartish. She exploits that because she can, and gets away with it. Truth be told I’ve always thought she was utterly crap.

    • Kennybhoy

      Ad hominem caca!

  • paul4id

    As I said in another if her pieces, blinkered people who have went through the school system in the Irish Republic cannot be trusted to comment in a fair manner on Northern Ireland issues. The hatred of some is so deep that many of them don’t even realise it, and think it is acceptable in polite company to insult our right to self-determination.

    She is seriously so naive to that think that there isn’t overwhelming evidence in British intelligence on McGuinness’s actions? At the start of the Appeasement Process McGuinness was no doubt given the choice to be finished off or do as he is told. The latter involved getting plenty of ego stroking of both himself and the drones to follow him to be nice little British Citizens.

    She also repeats her same ignorance on the nature of the original UVF in 1913 (an entirely defensive organisation to protect local democracy, formed after hundreds of thousands signed the Ulster Covenant and the Ulster Parliament was proclaimed). Guns were not illegal in 1914, neither was training a militia to defend the empire. The main purpose to defend the Ulster Parliament and defy Dublin, not Westminster, with the result being it incorporated into the 36th Ulster Division of the British Army meeting its slaughter at the Somme. The price of Ulster freedom was paid in blood in the fields of France.

    • Kennybhoy

      “As I said in another if her pieces, blinkered people who have went through the school system in the Irish Republic cannot be trusted to comment in a fair manner on Northern Ireland issues.”

      As opposed to…?

    • Chingford Man

      I also suspect the republicans were helped into negotiations by the fact that Billy Wright and the UVF started to get horribly effective in the early 90s.

      • Kennybhoy

        Admire him do you then? Jesus wept…

      • HookesLaw

        I suspect you may be right. My opinion for what it is worth is that the protestant extremists tired of IRA assassinations and started a crude murderous campaign against Catholics which the IRA could not prevent. They all stared into an abyss of endless murder and pulled back.

        • Kennybhoy

          Oh ffs Hookey do some research or butt out! The Ascendantist murder gangs were the PIRA’s biggest recruitment tool. They existed in symbiosis!

          • Frank

            Agree, both helped provide lots of cover for criminality.

      • Chingford Man

        Where did I say I admired Billy Wright or his handiwork, Kennybhoy? Do you have problems reading, as well as conducting yourself without swearing?

    • HookesLaw

      ‘At the start of the Appeasement Process McGuinness was no doubt given the choice’ — really? You know that do you?
      What preposterous rubbish.

      • Frank

        Disagree, I believe that a lot of terrorists were given a little “facts of life” chat by the British army to help them focus on the probable outcomes of their lifestyle.

        • Kennybhoy

          Aye loon it really was that simple all along…

          • Frank

            Not simple at all, but pointing out to people that they were likely to either end up dead, or in prison, sometime worked to break the cycle.

  • Jack

    Good he’s there. If you want to drag up history against him, just remember that he has loads more ammo than you, back to before your own ruling classes spoke anything called English.

    • Frank

      Yes and we have a huge grudge against the Romans!

  • GraveDave

    but, unless anyone has got any actual evidence to convict Mr McGuinness, then I think he’s better in constitutional politics and welcome at the party, than out of it.

    There’s evidence . But it’s not welcome either.

  • victor67

    The recent troubles origins indeed come from that time with an artificial partition of the(six counties) Provence of Ulster due to threats of violence by a Loyalist mob. What Britain then did over the next 60 years fanned the flames by overseeing and colluding with a gerrymandered , racist sectarian state (A protestant state for a protestant people.
    Britain reaped what it sowed in Ireland with its divide and rule colonial policies and the likes of McGuiness and his ilk were the symptoms not the cause.

    • Chingford Man

      So then all those people dead – and nothing whatsoever to do with the IRA. What’s next, al-Qaeda had nothing to do with 9/11?

    • HookesLaw

      The partition of the six counties took place in the 20’s and was done to ensure as many catholics as possible went into the republic and there was a protestant majority on the rump that remained.

  • CraigStrachan

    There’s no doubt the exclusion of Ulster from Home Rule was an expression of the wishes of the large majority of the people of Ulster. And partition was a sensible framework to accomodate the self-determination of the peoples of the island of Ireland, north and south, as now even Martin McGuinness seems to accept. Better late than never.

    • MacRiada

      But Home Rule came to Ulster, Craig!

      Instead of one parliament coming ‘home’, militant unionists succeeded in bringing home two!

      Instead of one parliament returning home to Dublin (re-establishing one of the oldest parliaments in the world, to the world’s first purpose built Bicameral parliament house) and all of Ireland still remaining within the UK -militant unionists and the conservative party succeeded in returning home two parliaments, and keeping one fifth of Ireland in the UK…

      What an incredible success for the anti home rule unionists!

      Of course their great success was in fooling everyone in Britain into seeing it from their perspective.

      • CraigStrachan

        Yes, like I say, the two parliaments were a sensible framework to accomodate the self-determination of the two peoples.

        Wouldn’t have my prefered outcome, but you play the hand you’re dealt, I suppose.

        • Kaine

          A sensible option would have been a little shuffling of seats to over-represent the minority community in the new Parliament and a secular constitution.

        • MacRiada

          “like I say…” ?
          So you concede that militant unionists failed in their objective of preventing the introduction of Home Rule?
          Or was the real objective about maintaining political power within one religious sphere? Rather than a constitutional objection to Home Rule?
          After all many Orange lodges objected to The Act of Union because they feared it would diminish ‘their’ Protestant control of Ireland!

          • CraigStrachan

            Home Rule as it was proposed in 1912 was defeated. A decade later, the British government recognised the self-determination of both the peoples of Ireland. Partition was the result.

            Of course the larger failure was the failure of Irish nationalism to find an expression that appealed to Northern Unionists. That failure is on-going.

            • MacRiada

              And what was it about the Home Rule ‘proposed’ in 1912 that was so disagreeable to northern unionists?

              • CraigStrachan

                Well, the slogan “Home Rule is Rome rule” may be crude, but it does convey the nature of the concern.

                • MacRiada

                  You have read the Act… haven’t you?
                  The ‘imperial parliament’ had all sorts of powers to allay such concerns.
                  So in effect, the concerns were about religious intolerance as opposed to anything else?

                • CraigStrachan

                  I’m sure Edward Carson and James Craig had read the Act, and it didn’t seem to allay their concerns – and it was their concerns, and the concerns of the people they represented, that counted back then.

                  For the record, I regard the modern RoI as a secular, pluralist society that has shed much of it’s clericalist baggage. A great place to visit and no doubt to live, that btw doesn’t feel foreign to me at all. A place that has made great economic progress, and overcome recent economic challenges with impressive forebearance.

                  But it’s taken a while to get there, and for much of its history, certainly in the four decades or so after independence, it was not as it is now. It was more the kind of place that would have confirmed the prejudices of Ulster Protestants about what Home Rule would have looked like.

                • MacRiada

                  Why didn’t Edward Carson become the first PM of Northern Ireland?
                  Did it ever occur to you that the Ulster unionist leadership wanted to play on the fears of ordinary people to achieve their political goals.
                  Hard to get people worked up on legislative procedures and designated powers etc., etc.
                  Britain, back then, was happy to keep the North as part of its Tax base (back when the North had industries) The rest of Ireland suffered as a result.
                  We also suffered because of the economic war.
                  Craig, in the 1930s over a fifth of the working population of Scotland had to emigrate.
                  Northern Ireland might not have been part of the Irish Free State, but it still had Magdalene laundries and its laws on abortion are similar etc.
                  Protestant politicians from the industrialised North would have had a big say in the running of Ireland. I think if Carson knew what would have happened, he would have supported Home Rule all the way.

                • CraigStrachan

                  Carson chose not to become PM of NI. Craig was probably the better fit, in any case.

                  I really do doubt that the ordinary people of the North were manipulated by their leaders. One thing I’ve noticed about Ulster Protestants over the years is that they are not slow to express dissatisfaction with their political leadership, and to ditch them if they feel their interests demand it.

                  I’d also suggest that the notion, popular among nationalists, that Northern Irish unionists are being manipulated, either by their own leadership or by the nefarious Brits, is a comfortable delusion that has provided Irish nationalism with an excuse not to address the fact that it has never appealed to Ulster Protestants, who make a cold-eyed calculation of their own interests, and opt to stick with Britain. (As the Scots will do later ths year).

                • MacRiada

                  I know Carson chose not to be the PM, as he was not happy with how the movement had gone.
                  Why wasn’t Carson the right fit?
                  Do you think the unionist leaders that led unionists to oppose the civil rights movement manipulated ordinary unionists, and led them astray?
                  Do you think the unionist leaders who led ordinary unionists to oppose the Sunningdale agreement, led them astray
                  Etc.

                • CraigStrachan

                  I didn’t say Carson wasn’t the right fit. I said Craig was probably the better one, being an Ulsterman.

                  In general, I think political leaders represent the views of those they lead. It takes an exceptional leader to mould them. Irish unionism has had few exceptional leaders. Trimble came closest, and look what became of him.

            • MacRiada

              Craig,
              You need to come to terms with what unionism has achieved for the people of Ireland.
              If 51% of the Scottish electorate vote for independence then it will leave the union -it will not be partitioned.
              The British establishment has learnt the lessons of 1912.
              80% of the Irish people found their expression in a patriotism towards their country and its people and a desire to see the return of its parliament.
              It only failed, because unionism brought the gun into Irish politics.
              And yes, that failure has had lasting negative effects for Ireland.

              • CraigStrachan

                “(Scotland) will not be partioned”

                Well, it may be that Orcadians and Shetlanders will want to exercise a bit of self-determination of their own. (Much as the Cree of northern Quebec indicated they would wish to do, during the last Quebec sovereignty referendum there.)

                And, in a US context, when the Commonwealth of Virginia seceded from the Union, a collection of counties in the northwest seceded from Virginia and remained within the Union as West Virginia.

                When you claim self-determination for yourself, it’s inconsistent to deny it to others.

                • MacRiada

                  “When you claim self-determination for yourself, it’s inconsistent to deny it to others.”
                  Yet, that is exactly what the new unionist Northern Irish state did when it stopped Tyrone and Fermanagh joining the Irish Free State.

                • CraigStrachan

                  And what the Free State government did when it agreed to suppress the report of the Boundary Commission, rather than transfer parts of eastern Donegal (including the family farm) to NI.

                • MacRiada

                  Fermanagh and Tyrone declared loyalty to the Dáil, but the Northern Irish state didn’t allow that.
                  You are now pretending that the border didn’t exist until the boundary commission. It is clear that a border existed after the treaty which was signed under the threat of ‘immediate and terrible war’.
                  There appears to be a pattern here.

                • CraigStrachan

                  No, I’m not pretending the border didn’t exist until the commission. In fact, the commissïon came up with proposals to transfer territory between the two jurisdictions, which were not accepted by Dublin.

                • MacRiada

                  The proposal would have made the border even more troublesome. Bits of this county, bits of that county -it was a joke.

                • CraigStrachan

                  Probably why the three governments mutually agreed to leave well enough alone.

                • MacRiada

                  Which takes us back to the treaty that created the border in the first place under the threat of ‘immediate and terrible war’.
                  A border that denied self determination to a third of the counties in the new northern state.
                  Of course, a four county NI would not have been feasible, therefore, the lauded principle of self determination had to be jettisoned when it got in the way of the bare face reality of what it was all about: a people who viewed themselves as superior, fearful of no longer having control, and doing everything in their power of keeping ascendancy politics alive in Ireland.
                  Even within the six counties, there was a very significant nationalist community whose political presence had to be curtailed by other means.
                  Unionists gave little thought of appealing to them.
                  If unionists didn’t think Tyrone and Fermanagh had a right to self determination, it only meant that 6 counties didn’t have a right to self determination either.
                  It’s just logic

                • CraigStrachan

                  You haven’t addressed my point that the backdrop to the treaty negotiations was war, actual not threatened. That’s why a treaty was necessary. The treaty ended the war with Britain. And kicked off the civil war.

  • http://www.drivebyplanet.com/ j_600

    What is troubling ISN’T the presence of Martin McGuinness at a state occasion – let’s leave that to the Daily Mail – it’s the fact that McGuinness was willing to go there and do the handshake routine with an establishment that is a large part of N. Ireland’s problem (arguably part of the UK’s problem also). In the end it’s not about being diplomatic or appropriate of even conciliatory – principle is a higher calling.

    • Frank

      …a large part of Northern Ireland’s problem??? Do grow up and visit the province to get a real understanding instead of pontificating.

    • Kennybhoy

      “…let’s leave that to the Daily Mail…”

      Cruel man! :-) Tell that to Maister Murray then! 😎

  • Marcus Wright

    As a South African, I’m not sure why McGuinness and Adams are still so reviled by some in Britain when Mandela is worshiped. He was also head of the armed wing of what was considered by many to be a terrorist organization. He did not have blood on his hands personally, but advocated armed struggle to overthrow an illegitimate government.What is the difference between an apartheid state that denied indigenous people self determination and the British Government which did the same in Ireland? I personally am against terrorism (violence against the innocent) but it seems to me selective morality and double standards are at work here.

    • Flintshire Ian

      I agree with you. Now, about taking back Peter Hain now that it is safe for him to return……

      • Frank

        He is such a travesty that he must be an MI6 agent!!

    • Chingford Man

      It’s silly to talk about an “indigenous” people. The north-east corner was always distinct from the rest of the island, partly due to geography and partly due to the traffic to and from Scotland. If you don’t have a single people, you can’t award the right of self-determination to everyone on the basis of them sharing an island.

      Once the Ulster Protestants made it clear that they would resist by force domination by the Irish Catholics, the only option open to the UK Government a century ago was to partition the territory. To compare it to South Africa is ludicrous.

      • Kaine

        Because partition worked so well in Ireland, echoing the similarly stellar results in India and Palestine.

        Also, you totally ignore the fact that the reason the Orange faction ( there were plenty of Protestant Home Rulers) were so obstinate is that they were actively encouraged to be so by the Conservative Party. They knew they would never be forced to the table.

        • Chingford Man

          A lot of lines got drawn on maps after WW1 and again after WW2. Sometimes they were arbitrary and contentious, sometimes, like modern Ukraine, they have returned to haunt us. Sometime they were the least bad option.

          As for obstinacy when believed to be in their interests, I suspect it is in the Ulster Protestant DNA and not contingent on Toryism, then or now.

        • CraigStrachan

          Och, partition is working just fine now. So fine, in fact, that even Sinn Fein wants in on it!

    • Frank

      I am not sure that you understand the situation in Northern Ireland , eg “denied indigenous people self-determination”.
      The reality has been for a very long time that if Britain could exit Northern Ireland, it would. The fact remains that a majority of the population wants Britain there (no doubt because they have seen what crony politics and corruption can do in southern Ireland).
      The British army went into Northern Ireland in the 1960s to protect the catholic part of the community. Once Britain realised how distorted representation had become in Northern Ireland, it took steps to sort this out. As for the balance of the troubles, they were usually turf wars between opposing criminal and or psychopathic gangs, which claimed various political objectives to justify their status and actions, but ruled by fear rather than because they represented any particular political segment of the communities in Northern Ireland.

      • Kaine

        Britain’s problem however is the double-think. You can’t say that people are British citizens while simultaneously permitting the rampant discrimination that went on against the Catholic community in Northern Ireland. It is inconceivable that something like Bloody Sunday could have happened on mainland Britain in the same time period, but if it had it would have, rightly, brought down the government.

        • Frank

          Yes, there was rampant discrimination against Catholics. Britain, once it had understood the problem, did its best to stamp it out. I appreciate that it was at the forefront of things for anyone who lived in the Catholic areas of Northern Ireland, but it was a relatively remote issue for most Brits, given that it was going on far from the centre of the UK. I don’t think it is fair to describe it as double standards as it was very difficult for most Brits to imagine the kind of collusion that went on between the Protestant political system, the old police force and the Protestant gangs
          You are right that it is inconceivable for Bloody Sunday to have happened in England at that time. It was however a fairly predictable outcome of the situation in Londonderry at that time and I think that the top brass of both the army and the Pira had major roles in what happened.

          • MacRiada

            How could Britain have not noticed the “rampant discrimination” that was going on for 50 years before the start of the Civil Rights movement?
            Is it not more accurate to say they actively ignored it, until a time when TV cameras were beaming images of an oppressed people around the world in the late 1960s.
            A United Nations peacekeeping force should have been sent (Just like the Republic requested). Of course Britain had the seat on the Security Council…
            Still it is nice how you think you can re-write the history.
            In the long run, such an attempt will fail.

        • CraigStrachan

          Probably right about mainland Britain. But something like Bloody Sunday certainly happened in the United States in the same time period.

      • MacRiada

        Frank, return to reality please.

  • SonOfSands

    You’re quite right Melanie…….. A lot of people seem to forget that it was the unionists who brought the gun into Irish politics. First from 1912 and again in 1966. They have repeatedly failed to accept democratic methods to bring peace in Ireland several times whether that be through the home rule bills or in later years the Sunningdale agreement. To try to blame the conflict entirely on the IRA and republicans is a blatant fallacy.
    Martin McGuinness is the most popular politician in Northern Ireland according to opinion polls, just as Gerry Adams is in the South of Ireland. Whether it repulses the British establishment or not, they must accept that they are the chosen representatives of many people on the island of Ireland.
    it is in stark contrast that Martin is willing to meet the Queen but the leader of the largest Unionist party states that even in 2014 he will refuse to meet the pope should the later visit Northern Ireland as planned in 2015.

    • CraigStrachan

      If Martin is so popular in the North, and Gerry in the South, would SF not have been better running Gerry for president in the South, instead of setting Martin up for the big loss?

      • SonOfSands

        Actually no! SF wanted a Northern candidate to run for President and Martin increased the share of the vote for SF by 10 percent. Not too bad at all. Gerry went for the the Parliamentary seat and topped the poll with one of the highest votes in the entire country. Sinn Fein are on course to be the largest party in the north and the second largest in the south come the elections of 2016. The rise is unstoppable now! Gerry has also topped every opinion poll in the south as Ireland’s most popular party leader. Regardless of what neo-imperial Brits like yourself think. Sinn Fein will be in power in both jurisdictions within 2 years. Hurts don’t it? :)

        • CraigStrachan

          Um, isn’t Gerry a Northerner? In fact, given the rough ride Martin (who has been the more honest about his past) – got from Southern media and voters, we can see why Gerry (who has yet to come clean at all) just didn’t want to risk it. So Martin took the fall.

          But, in general, I think it’s on the whole a positive that Sinn Fein is engaged in constitutional electoral politics and is now willing to serve in what they would once have called”partitionist bodies” such as Stormont or the Dail. How long before we see Shinners taking seats at Westminster? Maybe in the Lords? Lord McGuinness of the Bogside has a ring to it…

        • Frank

          Might hurt if we gave a stuff.
          The problem you have is that the Protestants are brighter, better educated and will end up in control if both parts of Ireland were ever reunited. Still, if you want to carry on playing sectarian games whilst the rest of the world moves on to better things, good luck.

          • Kennybhoy

            “…Protestants are brighter, better educated and will end up in control…”

            ROTFLMFAO

            • HookesLaw

              Why don’t you keep your filthy gob shut?

              • Kennybhoy

                Should I take it then that you agree with the ignorant fucking loon? :-)

            • Frank

              Do you live in Ulster?

              • Kennybhoy

                Spent a lot of my childhood there at the start of the Troubles and then two full and two emergency tours…

                • Frank

                  Catholic or Prot?

                • Kennybhoy

                  Devout Catholic. Scottish, of mixed Catholic and heretic Irish ancestry. I might as well have had a sign on front saying “Brit Bastart” and another on back saying “Papist Bastart”! :-)

                • Frank

                  An earlier comment got “moderated” as I didn’t use your spelling. Perhaps a better understanding of how much everyone in the UK and Ireland (both bits) is a mixed racial salad might help to defuse the them and us approach to disputes in Ireland?
                  Anyway, what will your placard say when Scotland sails away into her brave independence?

                • SonOfSands

                  Ah Jesus he’s a Celtic man…..

          • Kaine

            Better educated? Not the 40% of DUP members who think the world is 6000 years old.

            • Kennybhoy

              Cruel! :-)

              • SonOfSands

                Frank you’re being redicilous! Latest figures, published only last week. Show almost 30 percent more Catholics going to university than Protestants. It’s one of the biggest problems in Northern Ireland – the shocking levels of young Protestants leaving school without a single GCSE. As for the south, it has one of the most educated people on earth. Even Britain doesn’t compare to us on that front. You silly boy :)

                • Kennybhoy

                  I’m Kenny no’ Frank.:-)

                • Frank

                  Yes, I am much more polite!

                • Frank

                  I stand corrected. It is clearly now possible to unite both bits of Ireland and sit back and wait for what will be equal growth in both communities!!

            • Frank

              Is it better to believe in papal infallibility?

              • Kennybhoy

                Yes. If you are a Christian.

                • Frank

                  I think the jury is still out on that one TBH.

              • Kaine

                Yes actually. Papal infallibility refers to very specific pronouncements on dogma. Now whether Purgatory exists or whether making a pilgrimage to Santiago absolves you of your sins are theological questions. The age of the universe is a scientific question and, while we might not know everything, we know the Creationists are wrong.

                • Frank

                  Sorry, both concepts are absurd (but then I was brought up a prot so would be bound to say that!). BTW, purgatory does exist, pace Kafka, it is being caught in a room full of MPs!

        • Kaine

          While I personally have no problem with a nice lefty party in power next door, Sinn Fein are already in power in NI. I don’t however believe they’ll get the first minister’s position. The DUP are far more effectively killing off the UUP than SF are killing off the SDLP (who are useless but amiably so). If it looks like SF will edge them out there will be a flurry of activity to change the titles to parity.

          • SonOfSands

            I think you might be surprised with the results of the Euro election. Most commentators are suggesting the DUP seat is under threat. Unionism is so fragmented that the DUP is bound to use some votes. The UUP have lurched so far to the right it’s like the have traveled in time from the 1950s. Sinn Fein will top the poll again this time around and become the single largest party at the 2016 assembly election. MMcG will be first minister :)

            • Kaine

              The more that looks like a possibility, the more the Unionists will unite.

              • SonOfSands

                You clearly have not been keeping up with events in NI over the past 2 years. Since the flag protests were stirred up by the DUP and the infamous leaflet of December 2012, unionist unity has completely fallen apart. We now have more unionist parties than ever before. DUP, UUP, TUV, NI21, PUP, NI Conservatives, UKIP, Protestant Coalition, Alliance. These parties have shown to hate each-other as much as they hate the Nationalist parties. You only have to look at the recent campaigning by these parties to see that Unionist unity will never occur, though even if it did, they are now less than 50% percent of the electorate. They tried the unity card in Fermanagh at the last GE and still lost. MMcG rise to first minister is inevitable.

                • Kaine

                  They lost Fermanagh by 1 vote (4, but three were disputable).

                  I’m not saying your prediction is beyond the bounds of possibility, it obviously isn’t. What I’m saying is that the psychological threat of an SF First Minister is so great that it could throw these groups back together.

                  Nothing in politics is inevitable. Wasn’t it 5 years ago we were all predicting the annihilation of SF as FF began organising in the Six Counties?

                • SonOfSands

                  “Wasn’t it 5 years ago we were all predicting the annihilation of SF as FF began organising in the Six Counties?”

                  You clearly have no grasp of Irish politics with a comment like that. No-one was making such a prediction, if anything it was the complete opposite. Last GE it was expected that SF would increase their vote again – which they did. FF were predicted to be annihilated following the economic collapse – Which they were. FF were never expected to contest elections in the north before at least 2020 and even if they did, they would pose no challenge to SF though they might to the SDLP. They would be hampered by one simple question – Were was FF for the last 100 years? the rise of SF is now inevitable and will lead to government in both parts of Ireland.

                • Kaine

                  Prior to the economic crisis, FF were indeed organising in the Six Counties. My partner at the time was on one of the committees and they were recieving funds and visits from senior FF officials.

                  SF were indeed quite worried about it, as I discussed with representatives of the party who visited for Labour Party conference in 2008.

                  That the whole thing collapsed so quickly is a testament to how fluid politics is. However if you are so certain I hope you’ve done the decent thing and put a bet on. 😉

    • Kennybhoy

      The up vote is for your first para ya’ loon! :-)

      • SonOfSands

        Thanks Kenny! You wee charmer :)

        • Kennybhoy

          So they tell me…

    • Chingford Man

      A rather selective view of history from someone who has probably named himself after a dead terrorist. The modern IRA is just the latest manifestation of the physical force tradition within Irish nationalism.

      Well, I do blame the Ulster conflict entirely on the IRA and a significant proportion of the Catholic population. The handful of activists who split from the Official IRA to form the Provisionals believed that they could win a relatively brief terrorist campaign and that Protestant resistance could be shunted out of the way. They got their strategy totally wrong and totally misconstrued their opponents. Then they compounded it in the late 70s by refocusing to a “long war” which meant a bloody stalemate with their own communities smashed up.

      How many people died violently, how many more were injured, how many families were wrecked, how many people died prematurely from heart attacks, strokes, alcoholism, etc, who might have lived otherwise?

      • Kennybhoy

        Just who the fuck do you think the original rebels of 1968 were?

        Difficult to work out who is the biggest loon. You or SonOfSands…

        • Frank

          Agree that Chingfordman doesn’t understand what / who triggered the 1960s flare-up, but his last paragraph is bang on about the dire human cost of the NI troubles. Looking back, I do wonder whether a more French approach to pacification might not have been a quicker route to peace!

          • Kennybhoy

            Sending in the airforce to level populated areas?

            Loon…

            • Frank

              Not sure that the French ever did saturation bombing, much as they might have wanted to.

              • Kennybhoy

                Algeria in the 195os against the French settlers. Maybe no’ saturation bombing but definitely used air strikes against population centres….

                • Frank

                  I was thinking more of General Massu’s approach.

                • Kennybhoy

                  That came ten years later and is better remembered. Equally Gallic I will grant…

          • SonOfSands

            Frank you’re a bit mental lad. Yeah sure why didn’t we just send in the tanks and the missiles to west Belfast and that would have sorted those ungrateful Irish out. W@@ker!

        • SonOfSands

          1968? Kenny! I’ll think you’ll find it was the UVF. They killed the first police officers. Planted the first bombs.The IRA were a reaction to Unionist/Loyalist violence. Get your facts straight you muppet….

  • GUBU

    You may call in putting things in context, but others will recognize that you are simply indulging in the traditional Irish pastime of ‘Whataboutery’, where one party seeks to evade its own share of moral responsibility by heaping all the blame at the foot of the other.

    The bottom line of your piece? But it was them that started it all in the first place!

    • SonOfSands

      Makes a change from “it was all the IRA’s fault”.

      • Chingford Man

        2000 murders was the IRA’s fault.

  • Charles Martel

    or even repels you….

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