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Northern Ireland’s dangerous future Lyra McKee has been betrayed again

In Northern Ireland, Violence can erupt at any moment. Credit: PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images

In Northern Ireland, Violence can erupt at any moment. Credit: PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images


April 18, 2022   7 mins

It’s been exactly three years since the 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee was killed in the Creggan area of Derry, hit by a stray bullet from the dissident “New IRA”. She was reporting from the scene of a riot, an event that the assembled press pack would have deemed unlikely to be life-threatening, although certainly edgy.

Books of condolence were opened in numerous cities. Politicians from all sides voiced their deep regret. It moved the world, to see this representative of an apparently post-Troubles Northern Ireland — a young, gay, working-class Catholic woman with many Protestant friends — cut down by something that had darted out of the shadows to re-assert what many outsiders assumed had disappeared from the political scene: the fanatical pursuit of a united Ireland by means of violence.

Lyra herself hadn’t been much of a cheerleader for either side of the border argument: she wrote in 2014, “I don’t want a united Ireland or a stronger Union. I just want a better life.” By 2019, in personal terms, life had indeed got much better since the days when she was a lonely, unhappy teenager, bullied for her emergent sexuality. She had a partner, a successful career as a journalist, and a two-book deal with Faber. Politically, however, Northern Ireland was in much worse shape than many might have hoped when the Belfast Agreement was signed in 1998 — something Lyra was acutely aware of. Her articles circled the dark psychological legacy of the Troubles, including the high suicide rate among the generation who grew up after the Agreement, many of them trapped in pockets of deprivation and neglect where violence still held sway.

In her last essay, published posthumously in the Guardian, Lyra skewered the bargain made for her generation, or at least how it had played out: “We were to reap the spoils and prosperity that supposedly came with peace. In the end, we did get the peace — or something close to it — and those who’d caused carnage in the decades before got the money. Whether they’d abandoned arms (as the Provisionals did) or retained them (like the Loyalists), they’d managed to make a ton of paper. We got to live with the outcome of their choices.”

The politicians had made three promises to sell the peace deal to the Northern Ireland electorate, she said. The first, peace itself, they “barely delivered on”: paramilitaries may have stopped murdering “the other side”, but they quickly began “terrorising their own” with renewed vigour in working-class communities, something that barely excited attention outside of Northern Ireland. The second promise was prosperity in a thriving new peacetime economy, one which failed to materialise for most younger people. The third failed pledge, she said, “was the one that hurt the most”, and was felt mostly in the areas where “the gunmen continued to roam”. The politicians had promised that “the days of young people disappearing and dying young were gone”. As everyone knows — not least Lyra’s own family — they weren’t.

Three years on, Lyra McKee’s analysis of the way in which her generation had been let down remains, sadly, accurate. Northern Ireland required a unified, determined and highly thoughtful approach to rebuilding a civil society: it never got one. The British government bolted unionists and nationalists together in the oddly-constructed power-sharing Stormont administration, and then retreated with great relief, intervening like a distracted parent only at moments of crisis and collapse.

The concessions granted to paramilitary organisations in order to broker the Agreement — such as the release of republican and loyalist prisoners from jail — were not seen as one-off gestures, after which authority would clamp down hard on paramilitary activity and its routine glorifications of a murderous culture. Instead these concessions became a template for a new, politically tentative approach to paramilitarism, which has uneasily endured for almost 25 years.

Its central tenet appeared to be that so long as the loyalist and republican paramilitaries avoided explicit acts of sectarian violence, and refrained from bombings and shootings outside Northern Ireland, they should not be overly antagonised at home: their working-class fiefdoms would effectively remain their own, “policed” by bullets and brutal beatings doled out to troublesome youths, or those who simply defied bullying.

A series of post-Agreement IRA murders of young Catholic men, from Andrew Kearney in 1998 to Paul Quinn in 2007, were politically overlooked. Sinn Fein politicians frequently commemorate what Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill calls “our freedom struggle” in terms which gloss over the squalid reality of IRA killings. Flags of the Ulster Volunteer Force — responsible for some of the most grotesque sectarian murders of the Troubles — have been put up sporadically in mixed Belfast housing estates, no doubt intended to intimidate Catholic residents. Despite the valiant efforts of many small-scale community projects aimed at building reconciliation, the self-laudatory nature of former and current paramilitary organisations has persistently worked against building an idea of Northern Ireland as a “shared” place.

Loyalist paramilitaries, the UDA and the UVF, are meanwhile securing their finances by means of extortion, intimidation and the drugs trade. And republican “dissident” groups such as the New IRA and the Continuity IRA are embroiled in criminal activity while also pledging to continue with their violent campaign for a united Ireland. It doesn’t seem as if the PSNI’s Northern Ireland Paramilitary Crime Task Force, set up in 2017, is going to be retired any time soon.

If the current paramilitary scene is a volatile mix, with a fair amount of money and arms sloshing around in it, the bad news is that the wider politics is far from steady either. Indeed, the strongest feature of Northern Irish politics since 1998 has been the steady erosion of its middle ground, with the more centrist unionist UUP and nationalist SDLP losing out to the DUP and Sinn Fein respectively. Sinn Fein, which includes many prominent former IRA members, is currently on course to be Northern Ireland’s largest party after the May 5 elections — as well as Ireland’s richest, its slick electoral machine oiled by nearly £4 million left to it in the will of an eccentric Englishman, William Hampton.

Ulster unionism has perhaps never, in living memory, felt itself so precarious. A long spell of devolution has eroded bonds with the — nominally — Conservative and Unionist party, leaving unionists with few other political allies in the UK. Nor have DUP politicians served their own cause well: narrowly focused on small gains, their reputation as canny political horse-traders has too often been undermined by an acceptance of limping nags tricked up for market-day. The most notable was an early acquiescence — later rescinded — to Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan involving a degree of “regulatory divergence” for Northern Ireland, sold by their Prime Minister with fervent assurances that a customs border in the Irish Sea would happen only “over my dead body”.

The customs sea border is now long established, under the Northern Ireland protocol, and Johnson is very much alive. Perhaps no other British Prime Minister would have been so reckless as to amputate one part of the UK from the rest and believe that the consequences would be negligible, but the deed has been done.

For the moment the political pain is largely experienced by unionism, and it is growing more intense, as are the arguments between the unionist parties over how best to oppose the sea border. There have been attempts to overturn the Protocol in the courts, but the most recent judgement by the Court of Appeal was that it “lawfully modified” the 1800 Acts of Union and could stand. A series of local rallies have been held to emphasise public anger against the legislation, but they have drawn little attention from London. Westminster had been sabre-rattling towards the EU about triggering Article 16 to suspend Northern Ireland customs checks — but with the British government preoccupied by Ukraine and its own rolling scandals, this rhetoric has grown notably quieter.

The loyalist paramilitaries — who, like their republican counterparts, view violence as the ultimate means of political conversation — are growing restless. Earlier Brexit proposals, involving some form of “frictionless” land customs border with the Republic of Ireland, were later shelved in no small part because the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar energetically emphasised the risk of a return to republican violence if a customs border were put in place. The loyalists are now clearly beginning to wonder if their violence is deemed to be of inferior quality, and pondering how they might put that right.

In a grim echo of the IRA’s campaign in England during the Troubles, they have begun to speak of threatening politicians and targets in the Republic of Ireland. To emphasise the point, the UVF recently put on a disturbing theatrical display during a visit of the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney to Belfast, by hijacking a van and using it to transport a hoax bomb to the event he was attending.

The wider unionist population has little time for such threats and theatrics, but it is nonetheless politically worried. A Sinn Fein First Minister in Stormont would be a symbolic defeat for unionism, especially when allied to the possibility of the party entering government in Dublin in 2025. The vision of an Ireland presided over by Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald — who has described the IRA campaign as “justified” — with the elder statesman Gerry Adams celebrating in the background, is one which horrifies even the most moderate of unionists.

It is far from a done deal, since older voters in Ireland remain wary, having a keener memory of IRA atrocities, and many in the other Irish parties are acutely conscious of the possible harm which a Sinn Fein government could do to a broadly successful state: in recent polls, Republican parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael regained a measure of electoral ground. Still, Sinn Fein success remains a distinct possibility: younger voters may be swayed by promises on health and housing, and the party’s bogus but strategic rewriting of the Provisional IRA campaign as necessary for “civil rights”.

The landscape in Ireland, North and South, is not what one would have hoped for in 1998, or even at the time of Lyra McKee’s death in 2019: an increasingly unmoored, isolated unionism, twitchy loyalist paramilitaries, a triumphalist Irish republicanism, and a democratic Irish electorate potentially sleepwalking towards installing a government organically linked to a long and bloody sectarian campaign.

And yet, in the thick of it all, the border is not the burning question for ordinary people in Northern Ireland that many might imagine: a recent poll found that only 30% would back the reunification of Ireland if a border poll were held tomorrow, with 45.3% voting against it. When they are asked what they want, Northern Ireland itself is a more settled entity than it often appears. Like any other voters, they are currently more preoccupied with the health service and the cost-of-living crisis; like Lyra, they “just want a better life”.

But Northern Ireland’s intensifying political situation now merits urgent attention from any British or Irish politicians who can co-operate to defuse it: chaos in Northern Ireland, after all, has almost never taken account of what ordinary people want.


Jenny McCartney is a journalist, commentator and author of the novel The Ghost Factory.

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Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 years ago

Before anything else – who said that it was a stray bullet? Did anyone contact the gunman for their comments? As to the weapon availablity – Some of the weapons used by the “IRA”after the GFA have been proven to come from those “Put beyond all available access” under the watch of a Canadian General. I believe that the ‘Warning’ of IRA violence by Leo Varadkar was actually a threat. If the Irish do get their United way I think that us Brits must reconsider the Common Travel Area so that we can properly defend our shores from people who are definitely less friendly than they (as a whole) used to be. When the EU announced that it was proposing a charge of (€37.50) to be made against visiting British yachts the Portugese jumped straight in and said that there would be no extra ‘Fees’ for yachts in transit while the very next day in a British yachtclub bar I overheard one Irishman say to another “Good, now we can charge the bloody british for visiting.

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
2 years ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

I’m half Irish, half-British, with a grandfather who was in the Gardai, an Aunt who was a Noraid supporter, and I served in the British Army: and I’m not unusual.

The Common Travel Area was always more about the British being able to say to the Unionists, “..don’t worry, we’ll look after you.”, than a sop to Irish nationalist sentiment. For some of the latter, there is little real reconciliation: the ‘1000 years of oppression’ meme still plays well, only now the ‘oppression’ is not “..tanks, and guns and armoured cars, that come to take away our sons
” but allegedly, economic, social and political.

It doesn’t matter if this narrative is true or false; it is what people choose to believe. So, if a local yacht club can get one over the ‘Brits’, by charging non-EU mooring fees, then they will do so. For armchair nationalists who, drink-taken, shout ‘Up the ‘Ra’, at Easter, such an apparently petty move is their snip back at their historic oppressors and I can both deplore, and accept, that. It won’t stop our tricolour bedecked nationalist from attending Cheltenham races, or moving to London for work or study. Equally, it won’t stop me from honouring all my complex family history and being proud of both heritages.

(Incidentally, and I write as a ‘Remainer’, how on earth did yacht mooring fees ever become part of the EU’s remit?)

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Diggins

I’m baffled that any of this came up at a yacht club, of all places.
Among the leading Irish yacht clubs in Munster is the Royal Cork (founded by Royal Navy officers in 1720, making it the oldest yacht club in the world). In south Dublin you have the Royal Irish (whose ensign combines the tri-colour of the republic with a harp and crown) and the Royal Saint George (tri-colour, crown but no harp).
Colloquially, the George, the Irish, and their neighbour the National yacht club are known as the yobs, the snobs and the slobs, but I’ve never heard any animus towards Britain in any of them. There are apocryphal stories of the Union Flag being hoisted at the Irish for decades after Irish independence…..
The great offshore race of these islands, the Fastnet, still goes from the Isle of Wight to Fastnet Lighthouse off Cork, albeit the Royal Ocean Racing Club recently had it end in Cherbourg instead of Plymouth. If you are unlucky enough to fall overboard in Irish waters, you will still be rescued by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which hasn’t let a century of political independence distract if from saving lives.
If you really want a story of British sailors being gouged by Irish yacht clubs, you should try booking local accommodation during Cork Week.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

On the 28th May 1941, the destroyer HMS Mashona was sunk in the Atlantic during the operation to sink the Bismarck.
The body of one of the crew was washed up on Clare Island, off the west coast of Ireland. He was buried outside the graveyard wall of the tiny Cistercian church/cell, because being thought to be a Pagan-Protestant he was not allowed in consecrated ground!
However in recent years this outrage has been corrected and the graveyard wall now encloses his grave.

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

I hadn’t heard that story. Fascinating and sad.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

…see my reply to Arnaud Almaric above..

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

The RC church did the same to Irish babies who died in childbirth (unbaptised)! That wickedness was of a sick RC church: not a reflection of the Irish People who had no say in the matter (in either case).. Those who have seen the film Philomena or Magdalene Laundries or Song for a Raggy Boy will know only too well what wickedness the RC church perpetrated on its gullible, frightened (of Hell) flock.. not to mention more recent atrocities of sexual abuse and (bishops) turning a blind eye.. all dreadful stuff. But please, dont blame the ordinary Irish people for that: they were the principle victims!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

But sure boy, don’t all de yachties stay aboard der own boats during Cork Week? Watja on abou’ like? As you may have gathered I’m from Cork. Btw, immediately after Cowes (Isle of Wight) comes Calves in Schull, Co Cork (the islands just off shore are called The Calves). Huge welcome for all UK yachts.. Pingel is talkin’ thru’ his ass as we say in Cork!

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Diggins

Not a club mooring fee – The proposed charge for British yachts visiting EU countries was/is an EU Tax. Maybe it was just a certain (French) Brexit negotiator trying to get up more Brits noses. For me, it worked – Portugal and The Azores is where I’ll spend my money.

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

Good for you. Portugal is a splendid country to visit and deserves our business!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Al M

Agreed! I spend 5 months in Portugal every year: their winter is just like oir summer!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

Most of what you allege is utterly false (except perhaps for the final comment on one Irishman’s utterance – which might well have been a joke?)
The allegation that Leo Varadker issued a threat (on behalf of the New IRA!) is ludicrous! LV and his Fine Gael party are sworn enemies of the IRA ever since 1922, you idiot!
The common travel area works both ways don’t forget. For our part everybody from any part of the UK is totally welcome to visit Ireland. And you will be perfectly safe btw: probably a good deal safer than in many parts of the UK.. I speak for the Republic on that.. I cannot speak for the part that is in the UK. They are not as peace-loving or welcoming as we are. Ask any of the 100,000’s of UK visitors who holiday and settle in Ireland every year. To end the CTA would hurt a great many UK folk as well as us Irish.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

“The British government bolted unionists and nationalists together in the oddly-constructed power-sharing Stormont administration”
Funny. I keep hearing the EU and Biden take credit for what was achieved.
They also keep telling Westminster it’s not allowed to change it in any way, ever.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Shaw
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Your final sentence is utterly false. It was Frost’s intransigence that caused the stalemate. Liz Truss knows that and so is (finally) reopening negotiations. Incidentally, the Protocol was signed by BJ like 5 minutes ago!

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

There might be a form of peace at the moment but unfortunately attitudes haven’t changed, at least not completely. The “unionists” always had as much contempt for England as they did for the Catholics, it’s just that they needed English support to retain any semblance of dominence, and dominence was always what it was about for them. The six counties of NI are not the six counties of the original plantation, they were just the six whose demographics were calculated to give them the greatest dominence.

What the author doesn’t address is the fact that, were once any northerner in the Republic was guaranteed to be a Catholic, that is not now the case. Protestants NEVER went south, but that changed after the GFA. Many live, and many more commute back and forth to work, in the South. As a result, the atavistic repulsion against Catholics/southerners is crumbling, and with it the supposed British identity of Unionists. That’s what’s terrifying the unionist parties.

Last edited 2 years ago by Francis MacGabhann
Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
2 years ago

They were the six countries, which unlike the other twenty six, where a clear majority of the electorate had not voted for Home Rule / Independence over the previous decades. The Border was recognised by the Irish Free State in 1924. Any partition would have left a substantial minority on each side of the Border, no matter how it was drawn. Although subsequently the South was more successful in squeezing its minority out of existence.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

We should have enforced the 1914 Home Rule Bill on the conclusion of the Great War. Thus we would have ‘lanced the boil’ once and for all.
This may seem ungrateful, particularly after the sacrifices earned at say Thiepval, but it would have been the correct decision. Unfortunately the feebleness of that pervert* Lloyd George prevented it.

(* By contemporary standards.)

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

We were planning to, but by that point the conscription crisis had already rendered it moot.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

The minority (of which I’m one) was never squeezed out of existence in the Republic. Indeed the only discrimination here is positive discrimination in favour of the tiny minority population. Sadly, CoI folk are poor breeders and their decline is a result of that: and intermarriage which is commonplace – RC folk tend to be keener on churchgoing so children tended to go to mass rather that CoI Service. In all the years I attended services there were fewer and fewer children (and adults) as the years went by. But still, CoI people in the Republic are overrepresented in public life being very popular politicians voted in by mainly RC electors. We just don’t do discrimination in the ROI despite all the garbage posted here and elsewhere. Please do not confuse us with NI which, btw is in the UK in case you didn’t notice! All its ills are entirely out of our hands and indeed are entirely the responsibility of successive UK governments! We haven’t had hand, act or part in any of it except to do our best to help bring about peace there: which, with notable others, we did finally.. please don’t screw it up!

seanoshah
seanoshah
2 years ago

It is journalism like Ms McCartney’s that makes my UnHerd subscription worthwhile. This is another great piece.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  seanoshah

I agree, I also find that the vast majority of the commentators add value to both sides of the argument.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Fascinating how the Presbyterians are lumped in with The borderless Church of Ireland, and always have been by the British media: where else in our democracy can one Religious group, closely linked with their Masons The Orange Lodge, actually believe that somehow they have some almighty right to power? Does the media and the public actually know that the UDR and RUC actively and openly disliked Catholic officers in The British Army, especially in The Brigade of Guards? I recall the expression from a RUC man when discovering the number of aristocratic Catholic officers in The Scots Guards, that ” The only thing worse than a Taig is a posh Taig”… some actually believed, until 1969 onwards that Catholics were not allowed into The British Army!!

Whilst Britain was busy bearing its soul politically in dismantling discrimination on the them Rhodesia and South Africa, they ignored the brewing of another version on their own doorstep: There is nothing remotely normal about Northern Irish religio-politik.

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
2 years ago

The Presbyterian church is also borderless in Ireland, organized on an all-island basis. The Orange Order started in the 1790s as a predominantly Anglican institution at a time when Presbyterians as well as Catholics were denied basic rights, a situation that pertained until 1829, three decades after the Act of Union. Many of the republican United Irishmen who revolted in 1798 were northern Presbyterians.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

That’ll come as a shock to these guys!

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago

I’m sorry but you are incorrect about the Brigade of Guards*, they had become the Household Division in July 1968, and served in NI as such.
Your final paragraph is absolutely correct, the most grievous dereliction of duty by HMG since 1939.

(* Became Household Brigade in 1950 with the incorporation of the Household Cavalry, affectionately known as the ‘ Donkey Wallopers’.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago

I still fail to understand why a re-partition of Nothern Ireland to more sustainable borders is taboo these days. It was a common idea back in the 80s. And indeed was even envisaged back in the 1920s as a contingency.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

I for one would be all for it! Despite being CoI having the odious DUP in the same country is not something I relish at all! Something like the partition of India into India+Pakistan might work in NI. Btw the reason NI’s second university is in Coleraine rather than Derry is to accommodate exactly what you say: a retreat to East of the Bann river was the doomsday plan.

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

Labour throwing the unionists to the wolves remains one of the greatest acts of political treachery of the 20th century. When it all inevitably ends in genocidal tears I know where I’ll be putting the blame.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago
Reply to  R Wright

Don’t be so melodramatic.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Labour? How so? Iy was BJ snd Cons who threw the DUP under a bus! But under a bus is where they belong: stupid, bigotted dodos the lot of ’em.

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam O'Mahony
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

After the horrors of Ukraine, a few unfortunate victims of gangsters affecting ethnic ‘principles’ is really of little consequence.
Let them have their unity vote, and probably be defeated.
Let them squabble endlessly over their bigotry.
Leave them to it. They’ll never threaten the U.K. on the scale of Putin or ISIS, so who cares? And I speak as someone who was once passionate about and indirectly involved in this saga.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

And I have moved in the other direction! I too used to say “let ’em at it: one’s as bad as the other”.. but having lived in NI in recent years I found the vast majority are fine decent folk. Sadly, in a polarised statlet like NI the decent majority gets sucked in through fear and intimidation and they cannot be abandoned. The GFA is 100 times more important than any trade spat.. and btw the Protocol is working fine from a business point of view: that’s why NI’s growth has move from bottom to top in the UK since it was introduced. Why wouldn’t it? They have a foot in both camps! What’s not to like!

Terence Bear Park
Terence Bear Park
2 years ago

The Irish love violence. Give them a Referendum and if they decide on a united Ireland let’s leave them to it. In 2000 year’s neither the Roman or British Empire has been able to civilise them or the Scots. Give both of them their much wanted independence and sit back and watch them slaughter each other. Perhaps they won’t.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

The slaughter and the engineered famines and clearances were all carried out by the English: in Ireland, India, Kenya and many other colonies. That was in order to loot and plunder those countries. Ireland was highly civilized when the English rediscovered their savagery after the Romans gave up trying to civilise Britannia! We had unified laws and great centers of learning before you lot came and destroyed it all. You reduced India from producing 27% of World goods before you plundered it to 4% by the time you left! You amputated weavers’ thumbs after they repaired the looms you destroyed in order to ruin India’s preeminent clothing industry so you could move it to Yorkshire and Lancashire. Churchill extracted food during the war and say to a famine which killed 23 million Indians ..saying Indians have too many children and a beastly religion. The savagery in Kenya was similar.. so please, don’t lecture us on civilised behaviour!

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago

Thank you for reminding us what a cesspit NI has become.
As the English annual subsidy to NI almost equals that formerly paid in tribute to the EU, and far exceeds that given to Scotland, we should jettison the place immediately.
Clement Attlee & Co released India from bondage in a mere seven months, surely we can do better?

Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

And killed up to two million people in the process, while “releasing” India to decades of economic and political squalor under the Congress party, and Pakistan to even worse. If that is your model, a grim fate awaits the people of Northern Ireland.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

The (Indians) resorted to barbarism on the moment of their release, hardly ‘our’ problem.
Perhaps NI will do better, but I fear not.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

India was partitioned by the British! Sir Cyril Radcliffe drew the border though he’d never been to India: just liked playing with maps! So, ‘very much your problem! Like the partition of Ireland, the Balfour Declaration in Pakestine erc. Wherever you put your greed claws disaster followed: orchestrated by the stupid, wicked English!
You think you civilized India? The Indus Valley civilized was 1,000 old when you guys were still dragging each other from cave to cave by the hair!

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

NI has become a cesspit? Rather insulting to the many decent people who live there, of whatever persuasion.
Since the government of James I / VI at the start of the seventeenth century came up with the wheeze of planting a Protestant colony in Ulster “to extirpe the very root of rebellion” at a time when other European monarchies were trying to disentangle confessional groups, Britain’s haphazard interventions in Ireland have been nothing short of disastrous.
Apart from the deaths of one in four of the colonists in the Rising of 1641, scorched earth campaigns killed between one in ten and one in three of the Irish population in the 1580s, 1590s and 1650s, followed by over a century of Penal Laws that denied basic civil rights to Catholics and Presbyterians.
By 1844 Ireland within the United Kingdom had “a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien Church; and in addition the weakest executive in the world” in what Benjamin Disraeli defined as the Irish Question. Twelve months later, the Great Famine would kill a million people and see another million flee to America within five years. The Tory Robert Peel initially provided relief but this was radically scaled back by the pious liberal Prime Minister Lord Russell to prevent distortions of the market economy. Nearly three times as much was spent by HMG in compensating British slaveholders in the Caribbean than was spent in preventing starvation in Ireland. The Irish population may not recover fully until the 2050s.
After partition, HMG allowed a single party unionist administration to preside over local government gerrymandering and discriminatory housing and employment policies for five decades, essentially hoping the Irish Question would go away if they ignored it for long enough. That subsequent British governments have spent blood and treasure trying to build a better Northern Ireland is something I admire, as well as the stoicism of the British people during years of terrorism, but it seems condescending in the extreme to describe Northern Ireland as a cesspit without acknowledging Britain’s role in making it the place it is today.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

I don’t disagree with your prĂ©cis of Anglo-Irish history but frankly that was a classic case of ‘Vae Victis!’ was it not?
However to move on ‘we’ have been pouring blood and treasure into NI since 1969, with hardly any result.

Even today we find former British servicemen facing vexatious prosecutions for events that happened fifty years ago, yes, fifty! Recently an octogenarian was dragged from Devon to Belfast to face specious charges, and against medical advice. Result? He died of Covid in the Mater Hospital, Belfast. That’s one for the ‘boys in green’ to celebrate in Temple Bar, is it not?

The fact that the current Lord Chief Justice of NI is one Siobhan Roisin Keegan QC, a Catholic born in Newry, in 1971 is not encouraging to the say the very least.
NI must be detached from the umbilical cord of English largesse, and made to stand on its own two feet, enough is enough.

Last edited 2 years ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

It certainly was a case of Vae Victis. If there was a uniquely English twist to the scorched earth campaigns it was how frightfully guilty senior English officers often were over what they did, even in one instance mounting a law and order campaign to execute people guilty of murder and cannibalism, having destroyed their food supplies in the first place.
Having said that, HMG’s contribution in recent decades has been enormously consequential in stopping Northern Ireland go over the precipice. That SiobhĂĄn RĂłisĂ­n Keegan QC can be Lord Chief Justice is in itself a sign of progress. Neither she nor the PSNI can be faulted for an incoherent and fudged approach to amnesties on the part of HMG.
I do believe that NI should stand on its own two feet, but for once in Ireland HMG has actually owned the consequences and responsibilities of sovereignty. Not so much largesse as an obligation to all the citizens of Northern Ireland.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

ÂŹÂŹ

Last edited 2 years ago by polidori redux
ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

What happened to your splendidly forthright comment?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

Indeed: HMG made NI what it is.. its laudible attempts to fix it should be recognised but its abject failure in many areas, over many years is 100% down to neglect of the issues and blind, misguided support for the bigots simply because of their over-stated Loyalty with nothing else going for them. It seems some of HMG are finally beginning to see what a bunch of nasty, backward looking dodos the DUP are. Not before time!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

I’m assuming you’ve never visited NI? It is not a cesspit! That is a dreadful thing to say about any place. You should be ashamed. Your figures on subsidies are grossly inaccurate. Whatever is wrong in NI is entirely due to mismanagement of successive UK governments which permitted gross bigotry, discrimination, gerrymandering etc at the hands of your beloved DUP a bunch of backward, nasty dodos! Note I say DUP, not all Unionists and not all Protestants either.