January 27, 2018

Sinn Fein is "the Irish for John Bull"

Cartoon by Morten Morland (2003), via the British Cartoon Archive

Presently in Northern Ireland Sinn Fein has worked to make itself synonymous with progress and positive. They have done this to the detriment of Unionism and the wider protestant culture, both of which are perceived as cold and narrow minded.

The creation of Northern Ireland and the Free State gave Home Rule to all of Ireland

'All right—who else can steer?' O’Neill and Chichester-Clark drowning in a cartoon by ‘Mac’, Daily Sketch, 1 January 1971. (British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent)

The Ulster Proclamation of Provisional Government of 1913 signalled the intent of unionists to form their own administration in the nine northern counties of Ireland if Westminster handed powers to a nationalist parliament in Dublin.

It was issued the year after almost half a million people in Ulster signed either the Solemn League and Covenant or Declaration in opposition to Home Rule and as tens of thousands joined the original Ulster Volunteer Force in preparation to resist the move by force. The crisis was overtaken by the outbreak of World War One and a nine-county government was never formed.

January 23, 2018

The vanity of Irish exceptionalism...

I voted agained Brexit, but I believe in democracy. The Brexit vote and the disentagling process can be critiqued, but many commentators and papers have taken a sneering and condescending approach to those who favour separation from Brexit.

January 20, 2018

Irish Republican's lack of self-awareness

Postcard showing the 'Ulster Cow'. A priest and John Redmond portrayed trying to tax an Ulster farmer. The cow, labelled ‘Ulster,‘ belches 'defiance' - 'Now All of you try and milk her, dairymaid Redmond Don't Funk. We have been beaten, not hands down, but horns up, Carson's a Holy terror.'

Alex Kane wrote an article in the Irish Times pointing out that unionists and republicans in Northern Ireland both suffer from having a blind spot in their view of the world.

January 08, 2018

Ethics and Empire, reappraising colonialism?

Shane O'Neill of Tyrone meets Queen Elizabeth of England
Ian d'Alton wrote:
"In 1916 Irish Protestants were looked upon, in the words of novelist Susanne Day, as ‘illegitimate children of an irregular union between Hibernia and John Bull’."
Hubert Butler wrote:
"We protestants of the Irish Republic are no longer very interesting to anyone but ourselves. A generation ago we were regarded dramatically as imperialistic blood-suckers... Our brothers in the north are still discussed in such colourful terms."
Erskine Childers wrote in ‘The Framework of Home Rule’ (1911):
"In natural humanity the colonists of Ireland and the colonists of America differed in no appreciable degree. They were the same men, with the same inherent virtues and defects, acting according to the pressure of environment. Danger, in proportionate degree, made both classes brutal and perfidious."

European report labels Ireland a tax haven, Sinn Fein votes it down

Valerie Flynn wrote in the Times, 'Sinn Fein MEPs help Ireland avoid tax haven label':
"The adopted report criticises Ireland’s role in tax evasion. In it the European parliament notes with “regret” that the latest EU tax haven blacklist focuses only on non-EU jurisdictions and omits “countries within the EU that have played a systematic role in promoting and enabling harmful tax practices”. 
The parliament noted that “at least four member states would be included on the [blacklist] if screened according to the same EU criteria”. Although not named, Ireland was one of the four member states in question. The report was adopted by a large majority of MEPs."

January 06, 2018

The Westminster convention of non-interference in Northern Ireland (1921 - 1969)

'The Lobby of the House of Commons, 1886' by Liborio Prosperi ('Lib'), published in Vanity Fair Christmas Supplement 1886

Paul Rose, MP for Manchester Blackley, helped to set up the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster in 1965. Speaking at a debate on Northern Ireland in the House of commons on 22 April 1969 (just before Bernadette Devlin made her maiden speech) Paul Rose said:

January 02, 2018

Edward Carson - If Home Rule for Ireland, why not for the north-east of Ireland?

In opposition to the third Home Rule bill Edward Carson said:
"What argument is there that you can raise for giving Home Rule to Ireland that you do not equally raise for giving Home Rule to that Protestant minority in the north-east province?"
Lloyd George said:
"I was drenched with suspicion of Irishmen by Englishmen and of Englishmen by Irishmen and, worst of all, of Irishmen by Irishmen. It was a quagmire of distrust which clogged the footsteps and made progress impossible. That is the real enemy of Ireland."

Irish Ireland, not Ireland

'Posting in Ireland', by James Gillray

Republican teaching records that Irish Ireland and the true Irish Nation had nearly extinguished, only the Easter Rising ‘woke up’ the Irish people and unleashed them towards independence.

Todd Andrews wrote that "Dublin [in 1901] was a British city and accepted itself as one", and Ernie O'Malley said, "‘the old hatred of the redcoats had disappeared."

Tom Barry wrote that he had "no  national consciousness" but events of Easter Week gave him a "rude awakening", and "Through the blood sacrifice of 1916 had one Irish youth been awakened to Irish nationality."

Eamon de Valera said in 1926:
"[Clarke, Pearse and Connolly] made sure of an Irish Ireland by dying for it."

August 10, 2017

Unconscious bias against Ireland's protestants and unionists

A 19th century painting by Édouard Debat-Ponsan, depicting Catherine de' Medici (in black) viewing the carnage of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre (a day of Catholic mob violence and murder in 1572)

Just because you are gay it does not automatically mean that you believe in government control of the economy and large public spending.

Today we live in an identity-politics world where the conservative and centrist is evil and the progressive left is benevolent and virtuous.

And so it is in Northern Ireland, the unionist is bad, the nationalist is good. As Newton Emerson said: "The special problem with Sinn Fein is its ideological imperative to paint unionists as a community defined by prejudice." Unionists are the "despised tribe" and the "despised hangers-on".

June 08, 2017

The Vatican's colonialism and imperialism

I want to look at the Doctrine of Discovery and the conquest ethic of the Catholic Church. I do this because Catholics in Ireland equate conquest, colonialism and imperialism only with Britain, perfectly ignoring these impulses that exist in the Catholic church of the past and present. Surely that is an act of blatant hypocrisy?

In 'Interpreting Northern Ireland' John Whyte wrote:
"The Protestant school flew the Union Jack daily, a practice on which a catholic teacher commented: “They fly the flag down there to show that they are more British than the British themselves. It’s also to let us know that they are the lords and masters and we (Catholics) should be continually aware of it.” 
On the other hand, the catholic school was full of religious symbols, and a Protestant teacher commented: “it’s hard to escape the view that a special show is being put on for our benefit… they must know that these are the very things that we object to, yet still they are flaunted everywhere.”"

May 31, 2017

Paul Gough - Why Ireland Wasn't a Colony

Stephen Howe wrote in his 2008 article, ‘Questioning the (bad) question: ‘Was Ireland a colony?’:
"Might we usefully think of Ulster in certain periods as a Scots colony, or even Wexford as a Welsh one?"

May 30, 2017

After 1916 relations between Carson and Redmond improved

Delivering the John Redmond Lecture in April 2012 in Waterford the Minister of State for Northern Ireland the Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP reminded us that if you walk out of the Members’ Dining Room in the House of Commons and turn right you will pass a bust of John Redmond, continue towards the Members’ Library and you will face a bust of Sir Edward Carson.

Degrees of Irishness?

The Rt Hon Timothy Healy, Governor General of the Irish Free State, by Sir William Orpen
'My dear Boy, come and see me whenever you like in the bee-loud glade,' is what Tim Healy reputedly wrote in a letter response to W.B. Yeats, a story told by Lady Gregory and recalled by Conor Cruise O'Brien.

April 25, 2017

Is the British uniform really foreign?

On April 17 2017 Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy told a Sinn Féin commemoration at the republican plot at St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork where lord mayors Tomas Mac Curtain and Terence Mac Swiney are buried:
"Let me just make it clear – it is important that we remember those who fought in world wars; those people who were part of the Irish nation but for whatever reason decided to wear foreign uniforms, it’s absolutely legitimate that they should be remembered and should be commemorated."
Diarmaid Ferriter in ‘The Transformation of Ireland: 1900-2000’ wrote:
"Thousands of Irish soldiers, many of them nationalist, fought with the British army, suggesting a high degree of contentment with Ireland’s place within the Empire."
People suggest that Ireland before independence was a mere colony. However as Edward Carson said, Ireland had county councils and representative institutions. And John Redmond said in 1915:
"[Ireland has] its feet firmly planted in the groundwork and foundation of a free nation."
Read my post on Ireland's social revolution here.

The terrible ignorance of Ireland's unionists

Northern Ireland is the subject of a "terrible ignorance" by the people of the Republic of Ireland. This allows misunderstandings to linger and suspicions to fester. There are stereotypes of what an Irish protestant is like, as I wrote here, but these are incorrect. I wrote in my article, 'A Terrible Ignorance':
"Not only did Ireland of the twentieth century airbrush the constitutionalist tradition, they erased the avatar of a loyal Irish-British person and burnt the hard-drive. 
My Irishness is not singular and prescriptive, I’m Irish and British. Two buckets are easier carried than one, so I stand in-between. 
The unorthodox views of the northern protestant are never considered by the south. The Irish suffer willed amnesia when it comes to the loyal Ulstermen and women who are British and Irish."

TK Whitaker - It is much too naive to believe that Britain simply imposed Partition on Ireland

Diarmaid Ferriter wrote:
"The oft repeated contention was that partition was a British imposition and could only be undone by Britain; that there was no requirement for the Free State, or later the Republic, to come up with a solution."

April 24, 2017

The religious test to be a teacher in Ireland's schools

More information about the Catholic Teaching Certificate here

I previously wrote a blog post 'Irish teachers must be Catholic missionaries', and I also wrote a post, 'Ireland's sectarian schools' here.

I want to explore this matter further...

Ireland's sectarian schools, Ctd

Ireland has passed a new ‘equality’ law that protects Catholic LGBT teachers from discrimination. Via Mick Nugent here.
"This enrolment policy is clearly discriminatory. Discrimination wrapped up in the language of protecting their own ethos."

September 13, 2016

Northern Ireland's image problem

Reginald Maudling, a Conservative Home Secretary, reached destination despair with Northern Ireland, as Eamonn Mallie explained. Having hauled himself up the steps of the plane at Aldergrove after his first visit to Northern Ireland in 1972, he declared:
"For God’s sake bring me a large Scotch. What a bloody awful country."
HBO executive Michael Lombardo also derided Belfast. Jeremy Paxman called the city one of the most “benighted” places in the world. Restauranteur Emma Bricknell called Belfast a “laughing stock”.

BBC reporter Julian O'Neil said an “image problem” may explain a fall in visitor numbers to Northern Ireland from across the border. Grayson Perry made a rather downbeat disparaging comment following a visit to Belfast, when he said:
"[Loyalism is] rooted in a vision of Britain that perhaps doesn’t completely gel with the modern 21st century idea of Britain we have nowadays."

Also read this on my Tumblr here.

The 'Despised Tribe' and 'Despised hangers-on'

In a previous post I wrote that Catholic-Nationalists in Ireland can regard Protestant and Unionists as associated with "Saxon and Guilt".

I also wrote about Northern Ireland's image problem and the Reginald Maudlin moment here. I wrote about Unionism's anglophobia here. I also wrote about Ireland's "big, mad children".

In this post I look at how the British press and mainland opinion often looks with low regard upon the pro-Union community of Northern Ireland. Conor Cruise O'Brien wrote in his autobiography, 'Memoir: My Life and Themes', published in 1998:

September 12, 2016


Col. Tim Collins, RBAI alumnus and classic NIPPLE
I have written many times before about normal Northern Ireland and the two world's of Northern Ireland, and I've also written about the 'Unionist Gap'. Peter Geogheghan wrote that Northern Ireland is increasingly "janus-faced".

August 29, 2016

When John Steinbeck came 'back to Ireland'

The website Steinbeck Now notes that John Steinbeck "returned repeatedly to his family roots in Northern Ireland". Steinbeck's grandfather Samuel Hamilton was a Scots-Irish immigrant who settled as a farmer in California’s Salinas Valley in the 19th century. The 1962 Nobel Prize winner's Irish forebears hailed from Mulkeeragh, an area outside Ballykelly in County Londonderry. His grandfather was born on October 7 1830 and emigrated 17 years later, leaving for New York at the time of the Great Famine.

August 23, 2016

Northern Ireland's Dance, Ctd

Mandan tribal dance - George Catlin (c. 1835)
I previously wrote about the Northern Ireland dance here. MCB alumnus now in Washington Niall Stanage wrote in the New York Times:

August 19, 2016

The lost Orange of Ireland

Royal Black Preceptory Parade, Cootehill, Cavan, 1920

In a previous post I noted that Martin McGuinness said in March 2015 that "The orange part of the flag is as important as the green", and Gerry Adams said at his party’s Ard Fheis that same year that "We need reminded again and again that our flag is Orange."

August 16, 2016

James Connolly's angry nativist language

James Connolly, by  Mick O'Dea
Hate and racism is a universal trait - it isn't specifically a Protestant or unionist thing. Irish travellers in Southern Ireland were in Southern Ireland what Catholics were in Northern Ireland, second-class, and thet continue to be. As Willie Kealy said, “We [Irish] have always been a bit racist about Travellers.”

August 15, 2016

Protestant, planter and guilt. Catholic, Gael and virtue.

Captain John Smith trading with Virginian Indians. Painting by Sidney E. King, National Park Service.
On Slugger O'Toole I wrote that being protestant is often a byword for outsider and guilt, while being Catholic is shorthand for Erin and virtue. In that I wrote:

August 01, 2016

Irish nationalism's xenophobia against long settled Protestants

Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan tweeted:
"Unionists didn't have a problem with immigration when their ancestors descended on Ireland to grab land from the native population..."
While, republicans don't have a problem with immigration, so long as it's not protestant immigration to Ireland of centuries past. As Eoin O'Malley of Dublin City University wrote in the paper 'Populist Nationalists: Sinn Fein and redefining the 'radical right'':
"Nationalism in Ireland cannot sit easily with anti-immigrant bigotry (as long as the immigrants are not long settled Protestants."

July 29, 2016

William Walker versus James Connolly

William Walker was a self educated shipyard worker from Belfast (apprenticed as a joiner in Harland and Wolff). Born in 1871 he founded and led the Independent Labour Party in that city. He died after a long illness in 1918.

July 27, 2016

America, land of the planters

A 1914 painting of the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony
I use the title ironically, since for zealous Irish republicans "planter" is the epithet and pejorative of choice for the unpersuadable and defiant unionists in Ireland. Yet, if Ireland's protestants are planters, what of America's white christians?

Christopher Hitchens said in a TV debate:
"It goes back as I said to the initial beginnings of Islamic fundamentalism. The first attack on this country was in 1788 by Muslims who said that, "The koran gives us the right to punish and enslave infidels.” That is Bin Laden’s ideology. Bin Laden wants the restoration of the Caliphate. The Caliphate is an empire, he’s pro-empire, not anti-imperialist… He’s for the banning of all music, all books, all philosophy. And this because he cares about the Palestinians? Any one who believes this is a fool."

July 25, 2016

The gael's Northern Ireland

A street I passed driving through Monaghan
When American's think of Britain, they think of Monty Python. When Irish republicans think of Britain, they think of the Famine and the Black and Tans.

July 19, 2016

Ireland's “Big, Mad Children” politicians

Roy Foster wrote in ‘Luck and the Irish - A Brief History of Change’:
"After one debate between suspicious DUP representatives and unbending northern nationalists the current BIA chairman (a businessman with links in North and South) expostulated, ‘It’s like dealing with children. Big, Mad Children.’ In this he probably reflected opinions that the mandarins in London and Dublin held in private, and that brought them closer together."

July 11, 2016

The political orphaning of moderate unionism

NI Life And Times 2015

The unionist people are far ahead of unionist politics. I've written here that for all the madness there is much normality in Northern Ireland - there are Two Worlds in Northern Ireland. Alex Kane wrote that "people in Northern Ireland are much more liberal, laid back and genuinely cosmopolitan than the main unionist parties realise." Newton Emerson wrote:
"The political orphaning of moderate unionism has been a particular source of wonder and despair. 
What party represents the vast majority of unionists — those who are not Orangemen, bandsmen, gunmen, Bible-bashers, flag-flyers, bonfire-builders or all the other overlapping little constituencies that unionist politicians never dare to disappoint? What party can represent the 400,000 “garden centre” Protestants who refuse to vote, or appeal to any Catholic “economic unionists” who might just accept a British province that treated them with respect? How has such a substantial need for representation not been met for almost a century?"

July 06, 2016

Imagining if America and Ireland had stayed British

George Washington crosses the Delaware
John Bruton, former Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael wrote on his blog and in the Irish Times, 'Home rule could have led peacefully to independence'.

Dylan Matthews wrote on Vox.com, '3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake'.

July 05, 2016

The abstentionism of the Catholics from 20th Century Northern Ireland life

Newton Emerson wrote:
"For the first five decades of Northern Ireland’s existence, nationalism’s approach to Stormont was instinctively abstentionist. 
Is that instinct returning? The turnout in this week’s assembly election may be little different to last time’s 54 per cent but it masks a typical 3 per cent rise in unionist constituencies with an offsetting fall in nationalist constituencies."
In this post I wanted to consider the original abstentionist instinct. John Hume wrote in his famous 1964 letter to the Irish Times:

July 01, 2016

George Orwell on Ireland, Ctd

In a previous post I looked at George Orwell and his views on Ireland. Orwell viewed Ireland negatively - Catholic and authoritarian. George Orwell wrote in ‘Why Socialists Don’t Believe In Fun’, 1943:
"At this moment, for instance, the world is at war and wants peace. Yet the world has no experience of peace, and never has had, unless the Noble Savage once existed."

June 24, 2016

Henry Cooke and Catholic Emancipation (1825)

Henry Cooke
It is ever the case that Unionism and its avatars are presented as bigoted and regressive, while nationalism and its icons are liberal agents of change. Never has this clash of ideas been better encapsulated than with the Henry Cooke-Daniel O'Connell standoff. Yet O'Connell wasn't necessarily the paragon of enlightenment and liberation that he is automatically projected as. As Mick Hall and others have noted:
"Yet Daniel O’Connell, within five years of achieving Catholic Emancipation, stated that Protestants were “foreigners to us since they are of a different religion”."

June 23, 2016

Nationalism's failure to allay Unionism's fear of Rome Rule

Rev. Joseph Hocking
In a previous post I wrote that Edwardian Ireland was an apartheid state. I also wrote about the conciliation-omission of nationalism prior to the frustration of Home Rule, and I also wrote about the culpable neglect of republicanism post-partition to understand unionism or communicate to unionism the merits of unity.

June 22, 2016

Windsor's leadership in Northern Ireland

Steve Bell on the Queen's visit to Ireland, May 18 2011
The great cliché of this post-Saint Andrews age has been that unionism has no leadership. George Bernard Shaw once said that unionism is like a military without an officer class, there remains a degree of truth in this to this day. 

June 21, 2016

The new age of "Perked-Up Unionism"

The republican movement may represent an insurgent force in southern politics and present itself as a party of protest even while holding power in Northern Ireland, yet unionism still holds ascendency.

The classic trope of Northern politics is that nationalism represents confidence, which unionism represents demoralisation.

It seems the status quo has inverted. For Fionnuala O'Connor, we are living in the age of "perked-up unionism" and "stale nationalism". Fionnuala O'Connor wrote in the Irish News, February 9 2016, ‘We could be all be into a new political era without noticing’:

June 20, 2016

The RUC - For protestants they were friends, and for many Catholics they were vicious foes

Sir James Bernard Flanagan, a Catholic and Chief Constable of the RUC; and Michael McAtamney a Catholic and Deputy Chief Constable
Declan Kearney recently wrote in 'Uncomfortable Conversations':
"Seeking unionist repudiation of British state forces and the RUC is as unhelpful as demanding republican repudiation of the IRA."

June 15, 2016

John G. Ervine on Carson and Irish Protestants

John G. Irvine by William Conor. Also see a cartoon of John by David Low here.
As Martin McGuinness morphed from violent separatist into an unswerving constitutionalist, the Irish protestant St. John Greer Irvine journeyed from Home Ruler to a staunch Unionist. 

June 05, 2016

The Irish republican fight is with with Irish monarchists, not England

The Mad Bull (James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon and Michael Collins) by Sir John Bernard Patridge (1922)
I previously looked at the anglophobia of unionism on this blog, and on Slugger O'Toole. Here I look at how republicans misunderstand unionists, as typified by what David McKittrick wrote: "If it weren’t for the unionists, [the British] would leave right away." 

May 27, 2016

Ian Paisley was a proud Irishman

Ian paisley wrote:
"Edward Carson was a life-long Irishman, as well as being a life-long unionist,and that made all the difference… On this 28th day of September [2012], 100 years after his pen touched parchment, we salute the man who taught us all how to be true Irishmen and women."

April 21, 2016

John F. Kennedy's Texas speech on the Catholic Religion (1960)

JFK speaking at the Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas, September 12 1960 (speech in full here and at bottom)

Today, American politics is hugely varied religiously. In 1960 it was very different. 

Today Congress is run by a Catholic and a Mormon, the president is a black- Christian, on the Supreme Court sit six Catholics and three Jews.

April 06, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - John Kyle

John Kyle is A Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) councillor at Belfast City Council. He is contesting the Stormont Assembly Elections 2016.

April 05, 2016

A narrative account of the Easter Rising 1916

The seven signatories to the Irish Proclamation

Read my account of Sunday April 23 1916 here. The rebels are thrown into chaos by Eoin MacNeill's countermanding order, which read:
‘Owing to the very critical position, all orders given to Irish Volunteers for tomorrow, Easter Sunday, are hereby rescinded, and no parades, marches, or other movements of Irish Volunteers will take place. Each individual Volunteer will obey this order strictly in every particular.’
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