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Ireland is a Freudian dream Modern historians are whitewashing its crimes

Ireland's past cannot be hidden (Bernard Bisson/Sygma via Getty Images)

Ireland's past cannot be hidden (Bernard Bisson/Sygma via Getty Images)


April 5, 2023   6 mins

My fall from innocence happened at the age of seven. I was sitting with my mother on a Manchester bus when I decided to pipe up with an Irish rebel song. Even as a small child I knew quite a few bloodthirsty Irish ballads; in fact, I had even composed one myself, so excruciatingly bad that even today the thought of it brings a blush to my aged cheek. It wasn’t as though my family sported shillelaghs and said “Beggorah” (nobody in Ireland has ever been known to say “Begorrah”). My parents were first-generation English, which put me at some distance from the auld country.

There were, however, some Irish republican sentiments among my relatives, tales of Gaelic martyrs and dastardly British politicians which had rubbed off on an impressionable child. My Ulster grandfather spoke of Ireland in hushed tones as “sacred soil”, though he had abandoned the place almost as soon as he could walk and hadn’t the slightest intention of returning. He would, however, probably have agreed with the 18th-century Irish scholar who demonstrated conclusively that Irish was the language spoken in the Garden of Eden.

It was only when my mother told me to shut up that I realised that there was something taboo about this stuff. Like sex, it was a shameful affair that you didn’t parade in public. For a long time there have been far more Irish people living outside the country than inside it, and an immigrant culture learns to adapt its talk and behaviour to the mentality of its hosts. I now knew what it was like to be a divided subject, though because my skin was an acceptable colour I could hide this clash of commitments as some others couldn’t. I looked like a native but was actually an alien, furnished with a secret knowledge of Orangemen and Oliver Cromwell while having a laugh with my English friends about pissed-up Paddies and feckless Micks.

In those days, the way to resolve this dilemma was known as the Catholic grammar school. My own grammar school contained about 700 boys, almost all of whom had surnames like Murphy and O’Flynn, Connolly and O’Donovan. Yet I wasn’t aware that these were Irish names, and I don’t remember the words “Ireland” and “Irish” being used once in the whole of my time in the place. The school’s job was to hoist us out of the bog and install us among the English middle classes, a task at which it was supremely proficient. The school choir sang the national anthem at Speech Day to an audience of parents from Dublin or Kerry or Mayo, all of whom sang dutifully along. We played rugby and cricket, learnt about Britain’s imperial heritage and in general behaved like an inept parody of an English public school. We weren’t taught that our parents or grandparents hailed from Britain’s oldest colonial possession, the first colony in the world to achieve (partial) independence in the 20th century.

It was the Northern Irish Troubles which changed all that, at least for some of us. British Catholics, being a minority, can understand something of the problems of their co-religionists in Derry or Newry. No doubt many of my former schoolmates took the standard English line on the question — that there were two warring sectarian communities in the North, each as bigoted and blood-stained as the other, and the role of the British government was to mediate between them. When in doubt, head for the middle ground. It’s hard to see how this very English even-handedness applies to women versus rapists, slaves against slave-owners, minority communities versus the Met Police and so on, just as it’s hard for those who know something of the history of this conflict to swallow such liberal platitudes.

Northern Ireland was born of a cynical exercise in gerrymandering to ensure a permanent Protestant majority in the region. The Catholic population was denied the right to share in the self-determination enjoyed by its compatriots in what was then the Irish Free State. (As far as titles go, a lot of the British still talk of “southern Ireland”, even though some of the Irish Republic is to the north of some of Northern Ireland.) Instead, Catholics were subjected to the rule of a Protestant elite which feared for its own privileges if it were to join the rest of the country in its freedom from colonial power. To maintain those privileges, it built a system of discrimination against the Catholic minority brutal enough to win the approval of the founder of South African apartheid, Hendrick Verwoerd.

“What is it you dislike about Catholics?” a British journalist once asked an Ulster Protestant. “Are you daft?” was the indignant reply. “Their religion, of course!” Yet it was always an ethno-political conflict, not a religious one. Nobody on Belfast’s Shankill Road gives a toss about the Catholic theology of the Eucharist, just as nobody on the Falls Road loses sleep over the Protestant doctrine of predestination. What is at stake is a matter of power and inequality, not a spiritual divide. Nor is it primarily a question of culture. The two sides share much of the same working-class cultural interests, and in this respect have a lot more in common than they do with the Belfast bourgeoisie who flock to productions of Brian Friel. Neither is the problem one of a breakdown of understanding, as liberals like to believe about such antagonisms. The two communities understand each other perfectly well.

It isn’t that the North is stuck in the Dark Ages while the Irish Republic has forged ahead into the modern era. For one thing, nationalism is a thoroughly modern phenomenon, as well as a thoroughly internationalist one. For another, the Republic has become an enlightened, liberal-minded society not because it has overcome its past but because it refuses to confront it fully. It doesn’t do to talk of Elizabeth I’s near-genocidal campaigns in Ireland when you’re trying to reinvent yourself as an equal partner of Britain. Becoming a low-tax haven for US capital or the world’s leading producer of Viagra means sweeping a history of famine and enforced mass emigration under the carpet.

Modern Irish historians have become adept at whitewashing colonial crimes. For many in the Republic, the Northern Troubles were less disturbing than embarrassing, like an aspiring entrepreneur shamed by his uncouth sibling. Yet the sharp-suited technocrats in Dublin and Galway are themselves the heirs of a nationalist revolution, a fact which it’s now convenient to suppress. It’s not easy to do so when enmity in the North continually reminds you of it. Nations which have come of age are those which are able to affirm what’s precious in their past without fear of sentimentalism or nostalgia. To disown the past is to be just as constrained by it as to think of nothing else.

The Good Friday Agreement, signed 25 years ago, inaugurated a new epoch. Mutual hatred in parts of Northern Ireland remains as virulent as ever, but this needn’t matter much as long as there are mechanisms to avoid a return to bloodshed. And there’s a younger generation for whom all this stuff is as dead as the Peloponnesian Wars. Yet the Agreement works within the framework of colonialism rather than dismantling it. However one might seek to democratise the North, it remains politically speaking a sectarian state, organised to a large extent along denominational lines, and it was colonial occupation that made it so. Dressing this up as cultural diversity has its limits. When Ireland cast off British rule in 1921, it had the same right as any other state to sovereignty over the whole of its territory. It was deprived of that right by Ulster Unionism and the British government, and continues to be deprived of it today. Ukraine is fighting for that form of sovereignty at the moment, and the British are zealous in their support for it. They aren’t quite so keen on extending the same right to Dublin.

Of course, many nations were born of invasion, occupation and usurpation, but after a while they come to live this scandal down and become respectable. The further you are in decades or centuries from the original sin of establishing a state, the more chance you have of a stable existence. If, however, that founding moment remains within living memory, or almost so, and if those who were defeated and humiliated by it are still around, what has been repressed, as Freud argues, is likely to return. This is as true of Israel as it is of Northern Ireland. Both countries are plagued by the trauma of their birth. The British are welcome to visit Ireland and enjoy some of the most sublime scenery in Europe, as well as some of the most expensive commodities. But they are not entitled to own any of it, any more than the Irish are entitled to own the Home Counties.

One of the benefits of being a victor is that you don’t need to keep worrying about who you are. It is those who are oppressed or excluded who have to carry the problem of their identities around with them like a daily burden. Some Irish nationalists, like some members of ethnic and sexual minorities, believe that they know who they are well enough; the only problem is that they aren’t being allowed to express it fully. As long as you are a second-class citizen, however, you can’t be sure how much of your current identity arises from that very fact. What you need to do is not to express a selfhood which is currently being repressed, but to create the conditions in which you are free to find out what you want to become.

And to do that involves transforming your political situation, which in turn involves having a certain amount of assured identity. The goal, however, is to get to the point where who you are no longer really matters, since nobody is using it to make you miserable anymore. Once you have done that, you can spend your time thinking about something more interesting than yourself, like the extraordinary nature of King Charles’s ears or whether there really are captive aliens in the Nevada desert. It is a freedom of which the Irish can only dream.


Terry Eagleton is a critic, literary theorist, and UnHerd columnist.


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Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

Partition was made inevitable by the Sinn Fein victory in Ireland in the Westminster general election of 1918. Sinn Fein swept to 70 of the 75 seats in what became the Irish Free State, but won just 3 of the 30 in what became Northern Ireland, and that only because of a pact with the more moderate Home Rulers. In constituencies in the North contested by both parties, the Home Rulers beat Sinn Fein. It is debatable whether Sinn Fein won a mandate in 1918 for the campaign of violence they subsequently launched, but they certainly had no mandate of any sort in Northern Ireland. They still don’t. No British government was going to hand one million Ulster Unionists over to the tender mercies of a movement which just a few years earlier, at the height of the Great War, had boasted of the support from “our gallant allies in Europe” for their violent rebellion even while tens of thousands of Irish troops were fighting and dying on the Western Front. As it happened, the Protestant ex-Unionist population of the South fell precipitously after partition, while, funnily enough, the population of oppressed Catholics in the North actually rose. To speak of anyone – Britain or Ireland – “owning” Northern Ireland without reference to the views of the people who live there is a very colonial mindset.

Alexander Morrison
Alexander Morrison
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

An excellent comment – what Eagleton is advocating is the annexation of Northern Ireland without reference to the views of those who live there, on the grounds that the current government in Dublin has an inherent right to the whole of the island of Ireland. Based on what, exactly? I don’t think they would agree – indeed it’s not at all clear that Dublin really wants NI, as Ulster Unionism would then become their problem rather than London’s to deal with.
Certainly the Northern Irish political system was rigged to deny Catholics full Civil Rights until the 1970s, but since then they have had them, and as you point out the population has risen in that time.
The really shameful thing about the modern British attitude to NI is how little most English, Welsh and even Scots seem to care about it, and how ignorant they are of its politics. That is probably the greatest threat to the Union, rather than revanchism bred in Dublin.
And the comparison with Ukraine is utterly grotesque. Apart from extreme (and usually violent) republicans, nobody disputes that NI is part of the Union under international law unless and until a border poll is held with a majority for unification with the Irish Republic.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alexander Morrison
AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago

Eagleton is a great example of the level of deludedness that is often found in the upper echelons of academia. Those who inhabit his world are far removed from the reality that the rest of us live in, and fundamentally believe that spending decades living in their elite bubble endows them with the right to dictate what is best for the little people, even when it is obvious to everyone outside that bubble that they have no idea what they are talking about.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

So well expressed, deserves more than the one uptick i can give it.

Dahlia Logan
Dahlia Logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

top day

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I managed two.

Dahlia Logan
Dahlia Logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

top day

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I managed two.

Ben Dhonau
Ben Dhonau
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

Eagleton’s article can be succinctly described as an almost compete load of claptrap. He sounds like an English equivalent of the Irish-Americans who think nothing has changed since 1916

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Dhonau

Eagleton “English”? Speaking as an Englishman I can’t possibly accept that. I’m not sure that even he asserts it – does he?

Graeme Creffield
Graeme Creffield
1 year ago

When I heard him lecture in the early 1980s, it never occurred to me that he was Irish. It came as a surprise when he started banging on about Ireland after his retirement from academe

Graeme Creffield
Graeme Creffield
1 year ago

When I heard him lecture in the early 1980s, it never occurred to me that he was Irish. It came as a surprise when he started banging on about Ireland after his retirement from academe

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Dhonau

Eagleton “English”? Speaking as an Englishman I can’t possibly accept that. I’m not sure that even he asserts it – does he?

Clive Green
Clive Green
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

Well expressed!
So True.
So ‘otherworldly’ they become useless in this one.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

So well expressed, deserves more than the one uptick i can give it.

Ben Dhonau
Ben Dhonau
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

Eagleton’s article can be succinctly described as an almost compete load of claptrap. He sounds like an English equivalent of the Irish-Americans who think nothing has changed since 1916

Clive Green
Clive Green
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

Well expressed!
So True.
So ‘otherworldly’ they become useless in this one.

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago

In his comparison with Ukraine the author loses the plot.
As with Joe “I’m Irish” Biden, there are none so patriotic as the decedents of emigrants who have no intention of ever returning to live there.

Last edited 1 year ago by William Shaw
Marissa M
Marissa M
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Patriotic? Oh. I don’t know about that. A healthy dose of affection and strange loyalty. Well, can you blame them?
We grew up hearing stories about the filth and muck and degradation of the famine and then the troubles…then they ran to a country where they were indentured servants and viewed with suspicion and hate. But we also grew up with a healthy dose of romanticism about the old country. About all the old countries, actually. Ask an Italian American what they think about Italy. Or a Polish American about Poland.
Of course we would never return to live there, lol. This, per our ancestral decision’s, is our home. Don’t try to understand us. You can’t. You don’t understand what it is like to sometimes feel, as second or third generation Americans, like you have a foot in two countries. And not really a part of either. Only now are there testaments to that being written after having been told for years, “You’re an American now, that’s all that matters,” while still experiencing the culture of another country in your home.

Jae
Jae
1 year ago
Reply to  Marissa M

Hmmm. I was born in Cork, raised in England by a Mum who always called Ireland “Home”, I now live in America. After 34 years (some of it spent living in the Middle East to be honest) in 2022 I became a U.S. citizen. However, I still hold an Irish passport. I don’t have any problem calling America home, while considering myself extremely lucky to divide my loyalties and affections between all three places. I am thrice blessed.

Jae
Jae
1 year ago
Reply to  Marissa M

Hmmm. I was born in Cork, raised in England by a Mum who always called Ireland “Home”, I now live in America. After 34 years (some of it spent living in the Middle East to be honest) in 2022 I became a U.S. citizen. However, I still hold an Irish passport. I don’t have any problem calling America home, while considering myself extremely lucky to divide my loyalties and affections between all three places. I am thrice blessed.

Marissa M
Marissa M
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Patriotic? Oh. I don’t know about that. A healthy dose of affection and strange loyalty. Well, can you blame them?
We grew up hearing stories about the filth and muck and degradation of the famine and then the troubles…then they ran to a country where they were indentured servants and viewed with suspicion and hate. But we also grew up with a healthy dose of romanticism about the old country. About all the old countries, actually. Ask an Italian American what they think about Italy. Or a Polish American about Poland.
Of course we would never return to live there, lol. This, per our ancestral decision’s, is our home. Don’t try to understand us. You can’t. You don’t understand what it is like to sometimes feel, as second or third generation Americans, like you have a foot in two countries. And not really a part of either. Only now are there testaments to that being written after having been told for years, “You’re an American now, that’s all that matters,” while still experiencing the culture of another country in your home.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

A better comparison for the author might be Serbian claims to Kosovo

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago

Eagleton is a great example of the level of deludedness that is often found in the upper echelons of academia. Those who inhabit his world are far removed from the reality that the rest of us live in, and fundamentally believe that spending decades living in their elite bubble endows them with the right to dictate what is best for the little people, even when it is obvious to everyone outside that bubble that they have no idea what they are talking about.

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago

In his comparison with Ukraine the author loses the plot.
As with Joe “I’m Irish” Biden, there are none so patriotic as the decedents of emigrants who have no intention of ever returning to live there.

Last edited 1 year ago by William Shaw
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

A better comparison for the author might be Serbian claims to Kosovo

Daniel Emerson
Daniel Emerson
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

This is Tosh! As an individual of Anglo-Irish background having lived in both the UK and now in Ireland I cannot relate to what Eagleton outlines here. The Irish have no qualms about confronting their past and indeed sporting it as a badge of honour. Simply because those south of the border don’t wish to adopt a confrontational approach does not mean the basic sentiments are not shared. However whilst recording history and commemorating it they see the benefit in not framing their present and future outlook solely through that optic. They know only too well the cost of their struggles and the poisonous nature of internecine conflict. I’d suggest Eagleton visits Rwanda and to see a similar approach in action. And should Eagleton wish to understand why Protestant numbers fell in the South he should look no further than the discrimination that was practiced on them post partition, but that would be to fall into his trap. The same trap that Mary Lou McDonald incessantly cranks out. The battle is done, natural birth rates will ensure Ireland is ultimately united. The question is will the South want to pick up the bill and take charge of managing those enmities in the North which have decades to run? Like most ex-pats or descendants thereof residing in the UK for a long period, my own family included, Eagleton’s grasp of this country is outdated and ill-informed.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Nonsense – partition was made inevitable by Unionist resistance. In 1912, the UK govt published a home rule bill for Ireland. In response, Ulster’s Unionists signed the Ulster Covenant, established a terrorist organisation, the UVF, to resist the UK parliament, and smuggled in 25,000 rifles and between 3 and 5 million rounds of ammunition from Germany to Larne. In the subsequent settlement after the Anglo-Irish war, the British govt excluded the northern counties and partitioned the country. Had it not been for the justifiable concern about Unionist terrorism in the NE of the island, the English would have been happy enough to grant dominion status to the entire island. Partition was seen as a temporary fix, and for the next 50 years, London happily washed its hands of the place.  

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Considering the thousands killed in the 1916 Rising, War of Independence and Civil War, all to achieve something little different from the Home Rule parliament already enacted in 1914, it was and is rather rich for Irish Republicans to complain about the threat of Unionist terrorism. Irish Republicans didn’t want dominion status – then as now they weren’t willing to make the concessions necessary to avoid partition.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephen Walsh
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

You had better check your victim count.
There were 429 killed in the 2016 uprising, of which 116 were British military personnel, and 3 were policemen and 310.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

If you are going to take people to task, you could at least bother to read what they wrote. Stephen Walsh rather clearly mentioned the Anglo Irish War and the Irish Civil War, which you curiously totally ignore.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

If you are going to take people to task, you could at least bother to read what they wrote. Stephen Walsh rather clearly mentioned the Anglo Irish War and the Irish Civil War, which you curiously totally ignore.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

You had better check your victim count.
There were 429 killed in the 2016 uprising, of which 116 were British military personnel, and 3 were policemen and 310.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

You get downvoted for being historically accurate. Curious

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

In other words the Northern Ireland Protestants did not want to be forced into a Catholic dominated state. You might not agree with their position, but there was a political chasm between North and South.

The Irish Free State, with far less military and economic resources than Britain, would have had a huge challenge on its hands not only fighting a civil war with Republicans but another battle with Northern secessionists.

It is really difficult to see that would have been a better outcome than the messy one that prevailed and pretty much kept the peace for several decades.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Considering the thousands killed in the 1916 Rising, War of Independence and Civil War, all to achieve something little different from the Home Rule parliament already enacted in 1914, it was and is rather rich for Irish Republicans to complain about the threat of Unionist terrorism. Irish Republicans didn’t want dominion status – then as now they weren’t willing to make the concessions necessary to avoid partition.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephen Walsh
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

You get downvoted for being historically accurate. Curious

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

In other words the Northern Ireland Protestants did not want to be forced into a Catholic dominated state. You might not agree with their position, but there was a political chasm between North and South.

The Irish Free State, with far less military and economic resources than Britain, would have had a huge challenge on its hands not only fighting a civil war with Republicans but another battle with Northern secessionists.

It is really difficult to see that would have been a better outcome than the messy one that prevailed and pretty much kept the peace for several decades.

Alan Fitzgibbon
Alan Fitzgibbon
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Since NI didn’t exist (and wasn’t even conceived of) in 1918, that a majority there went to Unionists is beside the point. In greater Ulster, arguably the appropriate demarcation after Ireland itself, the split was 50: 50. But of course that wouldn’t suit – hence the gerrymandered state. Inconvenient perhaps but true.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

There was a Unionist majority in the nine counties of Ulster which would probably have endured until the 1980s. But it would have been harsh to force the overwhelmingly Nationalist counties of Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal to remain in the UK against the wishes of the great majority of the people there. Provinces are notional collections of counties with no legal standing. The administrative unit was the county, and of the eight counties and county boroughs in what shortly became Northern Ireland, five had a large Unionist majority and three were evenly split (no clear majority for leaving the UK). All the counties which had a large majority for leaving the UK did so – those where there was no clear majority for doing so became Northern Ireland. Special pleading about gerrymandering does not address the reality that many people, and the majority of people in the north east of Ireland, did and do not want to leave the UK, partly because of very valid concerns of how they would be treated in a United Ireland. It would be better if Irish Nationalists respected and addressed these concerns, rather than sneering at them, and blaming Perfidious Albion for it all.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephen Walsh
Alan Fitzgibbon
Alan Fitzgibbon
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

So concern for how the ‘majority’ of people in the North East enclave might have been treated in a United Ireland (first President a Protestant) does not extend to the actual treatment of the nationalist and indigenous minority that ensued for fifty years in that NE space.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

You are conflating two different issues – partition, and the treatment of Catholics in Northern Ireland. Eagleton states “When Ireland cast off British rule in 1921, it had the same right as any other state to sovereignty over the whole of its territory.” This is garbage. Separately, the “Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People” was the tragic result of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which should never have been enacted. There should have been continued direct rule over Northern Ireland, as there had been from 1801 to 1920. But the only Irish MPs left in Westminster to oppose it were the 6 Nationalists who had survived the 1918 election which had made partition of some sort inevitable. The Irish Presidency has no real power and was secured by two Protestants (one of whom was the son of English and American parents rather than being an Irish Protestant himself) by repudiating the political identity and beliefs of the vast majority of Irish Protestants at Partition. None of the senior Irish ministerial positions were ever held by Protestants after 1932 (other than Finance briefly from 1954 – 57).

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Well argued. These are “natural boundary” fallacies, as for example believed in and fought for in decades of bloody wars by Louis IV.

There never HAD been a single unified Irish state separate from the English crown in the whole history of the island.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Well argued. These are “natural boundary” fallacies, as for example believed in and fought for in decades of bloody wars by Louis IV.

There never HAD been a single unified Irish state separate from the English crown in the whole history of the island.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

You are conflating two different issues – partition, and the treatment of Catholics in Northern Ireland. Eagleton states “When Ireland cast off British rule in 1921, it had the same right as any other state to sovereignty over the whole of its territory.” This is garbage. Separately, the “Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People” was the tragic result of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which should never have been enacted. There should have been continued direct rule over Northern Ireland, as there had been from 1801 to 1920. But the only Irish MPs left in Westminster to oppose it were the 6 Nationalists who had survived the 1918 election which had made partition of some sort inevitable. The Irish Presidency has no real power and was secured by two Protestants (one of whom was the son of English and American parents rather than being an Irish Protestant himself) by repudiating the political identity and beliefs of the vast majority of Irish Protestants at Partition. None of the senior Irish ministerial positions were ever held by Protestants after 1932 (other than Finance briefly from 1954 – 57).

Alan Fitzgibbon
Alan Fitzgibbon
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

So concern for how the ‘majority’ of people in the North East enclave might have been treated in a United Ireland (first President a Protestant) does not extend to the actual treatment of the nationalist and indigenous minority that ensued for fifty years in that NE space.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

Almost any conceivable new state is “gerrymandered” by that definition. India and Pakistan? It was a very unsatisfactory solution but probably better than the decades long insurrection that would otherwise have occurred.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

There was a Unionist majority in the nine counties of Ulster which would probably have endured until the 1980s. But it would have been harsh to force the overwhelmingly Nationalist counties of Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal to remain in the UK against the wishes of the great majority of the people there. Provinces are notional collections of counties with no legal standing. The administrative unit was the county, and of the eight counties and county boroughs in what shortly became Northern Ireland, five had a large Unionist majority and three were evenly split (no clear majority for leaving the UK). All the counties which had a large majority for leaving the UK did so – those where there was no clear majority for doing so became Northern Ireland. Special pleading about gerrymandering does not address the reality that many people, and the majority of people in the north east of Ireland, did and do not want to leave the UK, partly because of very valid concerns of how they would be treated in a United Ireland. It would be better if Irish Nationalists respected and addressed these concerns, rather than sneering at them, and blaming Perfidious Albion for it all.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephen Walsh
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

Almost any conceivable new state is “gerrymandered” by that definition. India and Pakistan? It was a very unsatisfactory solution but probably better than the decades long insurrection that would otherwise have occurred.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

On the 1st July, 1916, the 36th (Ulster) Division made the necessary sacrifice on the first day of the infamous ‘Battle of the Somme’.
By nightfall they had suffered 5,000 casualties, one third of their original strength.

Thus ‘they’ can be forgiven anything!

Phineas Bury
Phineas Bury
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

See my book ‘Buried Lives. The Protestants of Southern Ireland. Between 1911 and 1926 the Protestant population of the Free State (26 counties0 declined by over a third. Then between 1926 ans 1971 the church of Ireland population declined by 40% when the Catholic numbers increaased. Colonialism? Ireland was not a colony any more than Britain. The Normans conquered both and in the case of Ireland, were invited to invade by an Irish chieftain.Irish men and women played a big role in building a British empire. Yes the comparison to Ukraine is grotesque. A country fightin against a feascit invasion. NI is part of a benign democracy enjoying heavy subsidies.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

As you say the Protestant ex-Unionist population of the South fell precipitously after partition. But to be more accurate they were ethnically cleansed. https://www.historyireland.com/sectarianism-and-ethnic-cleansing/
Of course this is an unacceptable truth for Irish Catholics since it threatens their status as professional victims, a class to which the author clearly belongs
As to the authors statement “As British Catholics, being a minority, can understand something of the problems of their co-religionists in Derry or Newry”, what a load of cobblers I was born to Irish grandparents and was at school primary and secondary schools (but not a posh grammar school) in the 70s when the IRA was in full swing.
As I recall every last proper English person behaved with utmost decency and never did I hear anything directed at us for being Irish Catholics but there was more that a small amount of pro-IRA sentiment amongst my classmates, presumably passed down by the parents. I remember wondering why are these people in the country
I am so ashamed that I have Irish ancestry and I loath plastic paddies

Last edited 1 year ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Alexander Morrison
Alexander Morrison
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

An excellent comment – what Eagleton is advocating is the annexation of Northern Ireland without reference to the views of those who live there, on the grounds that the current government in Dublin has an inherent right to the whole of the island of Ireland. Based on what, exactly? I don’t think they would agree – indeed it’s not at all clear that Dublin really wants NI, as Ulster Unionism would then become their problem rather than London’s to deal with.
Certainly the Northern Irish political system was rigged to deny Catholics full Civil Rights until the 1970s, but since then they have had them, and as you point out the population has risen in that time.
The really shameful thing about the modern British attitude to NI is how little most English, Welsh and even Scots seem to care about it, and how ignorant they are of its politics. That is probably the greatest threat to the Union, rather than revanchism bred in Dublin.
And the comparison with Ukraine is utterly grotesque. Apart from extreme (and usually violent) republicans, nobody disputes that NI is part of the Union under international law unless and until a border poll is held with a majority for unification with the Irish Republic.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alexander Morrison
Daniel Emerson
Daniel Emerson
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

This is Tosh! As an individual of Anglo-Irish background having lived in both the UK and now in Ireland I cannot relate to what Eagleton outlines here. The Irish have no qualms about confronting their past and indeed sporting it as a badge of honour. Simply because those south of the border don’t wish to adopt a confrontational approach does not mean the basic sentiments are not shared. However whilst recording history and commemorating it they see the benefit in not framing their present and future outlook solely through that optic. They know only too well the cost of their struggles and the poisonous nature of internecine conflict. I’d suggest Eagleton visits Rwanda and to see a similar approach in action. And should Eagleton wish to understand why Protestant numbers fell in the South he should look no further than the discrimination that was practiced on them post partition, but that would be to fall into his trap. The same trap that Mary Lou McDonald incessantly cranks out. The battle is done, natural birth rates will ensure Ireland is ultimately united. The question is will the South want to pick up the bill and take charge of managing those enmities in the North which have decades to run? Like most ex-pats or descendants thereof residing in the UK for a long period, my own family included, Eagleton’s grasp of this country is outdated and ill-informed.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Nonsense – partition was made inevitable by Unionist resistance. In 1912, the UK govt published a home rule bill for Ireland. In response, Ulster’s Unionists signed the Ulster Covenant, established a terrorist organisation, the UVF, to resist the UK parliament, and smuggled in 25,000 rifles and between 3 and 5 million rounds of ammunition from Germany to Larne. In the subsequent settlement after the Anglo-Irish war, the British govt excluded the northern counties and partitioned the country. Had it not been for the justifiable concern about Unionist terrorism in the NE of the island, the English would have been happy enough to grant dominion status to the entire island. Partition was seen as a temporary fix, and for the next 50 years, London happily washed its hands of the place.  

Alan Fitzgibbon
Alan Fitzgibbon
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Since NI didn’t exist (and wasn’t even conceived of) in 1918, that a majority there went to Unionists is beside the point. In greater Ulster, arguably the appropriate demarcation after Ireland itself, the split was 50: 50. But of course that wouldn’t suit – hence the gerrymandered state. Inconvenient perhaps but true.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

On the 1st July, 1916, the 36th (Ulster) Division made the necessary sacrifice on the first day of the infamous ‘Battle of the Somme’.
By nightfall they had suffered 5,000 casualties, one third of their original strength.

Thus ‘they’ can be forgiven anything!

Phineas Bury
Phineas Bury
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

See my book ‘Buried Lives. The Protestants of Southern Ireland. Between 1911 and 1926 the Protestant population of the Free State (26 counties0 declined by over a third. Then between 1926 ans 1971 the church of Ireland population declined by 40% when the Catholic numbers increaased. Colonialism? Ireland was not a colony any more than Britain. The Normans conquered both and in the case of Ireland, were invited to invade by an Irish chieftain.Irish men and women played a big role in building a British empire. Yes the comparison to Ukraine is grotesque. A country fightin against a feascit invasion. NI is part of a benign democracy enjoying heavy subsidies.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

As you say the Protestant ex-Unionist population of the South fell precipitously after partition. But to be more accurate they were ethnically cleansed. https://www.historyireland.com/sectarianism-and-ethnic-cleansing/
Of course this is an unacceptable truth for Irish Catholics since it threatens their status as professional victims, a class to which the author clearly belongs
As to the authors statement “As British Catholics, being a minority, can understand something of the problems of their co-religionists in Derry or Newry”, what a load of cobblers I was born to Irish grandparents and was at school primary and secondary schools (but not a posh grammar school) in the 70s when the IRA was in full swing.
As I recall every last proper English person behaved with utmost decency and never did I hear anything directed at us for being Irish Catholics but there was more that a small amount of pro-IRA sentiment amongst my classmates, presumably passed down by the parents. I remember wondering why are these people in the country
I am so ashamed that I have Irish ancestry and I loath plastic paddies

Last edited 1 year ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

Partition was made inevitable by the Sinn Fein victory in Ireland in the Westminster general election of 1918. Sinn Fein swept to 70 of the 75 seats in what became the Irish Free State, but won just 3 of the 30 in what became Northern Ireland, and that only because of a pact with the more moderate Home Rulers. In constituencies in the North contested by both parties, the Home Rulers beat Sinn Fein. It is debatable whether Sinn Fein won a mandate in 1918 for the campaign of violence they subsequently launched, but they certainly had no mandate of any sort in Northern Ireland. They still don’t. No British government was going to hand one million Ulster Unionists over to the tender mercies of a movement which just a few years earlier, at the height of the Great War, had boasted of the support from “our gallant allies in Europe” for their violent rebellion even while tens of thousands of Irish troops were fighting and dying on the Western Front. As it happened, the Protestant ex-Unionist population of the South fell precipitously after partition, while, funnily enough, the population of oppressed Catholics in the North actually rose. To speak of anyone – Britain or Ireland – “owning” Northern Ireland without reference to the views of the people who live there is a very colonial mindset.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago

In an article dripping with sectarian us versus them, the author writes “the standard English line on the question — that there were two warring sectarian communities in the North, each as bigoted and blood-stained as the other, and the role of the British government was to mediate between them. When in doubt, head for the middle ground. It’s hard to see how this very English even-handedness applies to women versus rapists”. Thereby comparing the morality of one side to rapists. This isn’t an article or an essay, it is the unhinged rantings of a racist.

It’s not for me to suggest the author has issues which he is projecting on to Ireland’s past, but the Ireland I know isn’t recognisable here. For example, “sweeping a history of famine and enforced mass emigration under the carpet”? EPIC is one of the most popular museums in Dublin, lavishly funded and winner of Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction award and deals exclusively with the story of… Irish emigration. There are none so blind as those twisted by secondhand sectarianism.

The enormous demographic change now occurring across Ireland is bringing new people with their own stories, religion and different priorities. The Ireland and the Irish identity in the author’s head is being replaced. Ireland will no doubt be united but it won’t be a union of the Irish for the [Catholic] Irish. It will be a multi ethnic Irish minority globalised economic unit with only performative ritualistic Irish corporate branding. The stories of Cromwell that are as alive in the writer’s imagination as if they happened yesterday will become as politically relevant as the story of the vikings arriving at the black pool – Dubh Linn – in the 9th century.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nell Clover
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

That’s exactly what I got out of it.

Geraldine Kelley
Geraldine Kelley
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Mr Eagleton’s problem here is that he is third – generation Irish- English and, like many I have encountered in my 55 years in England, he has a distorted and romanticised view of Ireland. Like the bizarre Americans, who tip up to find the ancestral cottage and dab their eyes over Cathleen Ni Houlihan, he is embarrassingly unaware of current reality and of historical fact. No mention here of the dreadful, oppressive and fascistic reign of Mr De Valera and his successors, which drove hundreds of thousands out of Ireland- up in Donegal and in the West of Ireland, electricity and piped water were still unavailable to many rural households in the 1990s, while the Catholic Church was synonymous with the state in coercive and repressive control of many aspects of social life.

I understand his point about feelings of alienation, but most of this essay is a word- salad of Marxist wishful thinking.

Last edited 1 year ago by Geraldine Kelley
Mic Craig
Mic Craig
1 year ago

You obviously have a distorted view of what constitutes a Marxist. As it happens this Marxist completely agrees with your comment – except of course, the last sentence.

Mic Craig
Mic Craig
1 year ago

You obviously have a distorted view of what constitutes a Marxist. As it happens this Marxist completely agrees with your comment – except of course, the last sentence.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

That’s exactly what I got out of it.

Geraldine Kelley
Geraldine Kelley
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Mr Eagleton’s problem here is that he is third – generation Irish- English and, like many I have encountered in my 55 years in England, he has a distorted and romanticised view of Ireland. Like the bizarre Americans, who tip up to find the ancestral cottage and dab their eyes over Cathleen Ni Houlihan, he is embarrassingly unaware of current reality and of historical fact. No mention here of the dreadful, oppressive and fascistic reign of Mr De Valera and his successors, which drove hundreds of thousands out of Ireland- up in Donegal and in the West of Ireland, electricity and piped water were still unavailable to many rural households in the 1990s, while the Catholic Church was synonymous with the state in coercive and repressive control of many aspects of social life.

I understand his point about feelings of alienation, but most of this essay is a word- salad of Marxist wishful thinking.

Last edited 1 year ago by Geraldine Kelley
Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago

In an article dripping with sectarian us versus them, the author writes “the standard English line on the question — that there were two warring sectarian communities in the North, each as bigoted and blood-stained as the other, and the role of the British government was to mediate between them. When in doubt, head for the middle ground. It’s hard to see how this very English even-handedness applies to women versus rapists”. Thereby comparing the morality of one side to rapists. This isn’t an article or an essay, it is the unhinged rantings of a racist.

It’s not for me to suggest the author has issues which he is projecting on to Ireland’s past, but the Ireland I know isn’t recognisable here. For example, “sweeping a history of famine and enforced mass emigration under the carpet”? EPIC is one of the most popular museums in Dublin, lavishly funded and winner of Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction award and deals exclusively with the story of… Irish emigration. There are none so blind as those twisted by secondhand sectarianism.

The enormous demographic change now occurring across Ireland is bringing new people with their own stories, religion and different priorities. The Ireland and the Irish identity in the author’s head is being replaced. Ireland will no doubt be united but it won’t be a union of the Irish for the [Catholic] Irish. It will be a multi ethnic Irish minority globalised economic unit with only performative ritualistic Irish corporate branding. The stories of Cromwell that are as alive in the writer’s imagination as if they happened yesterday will become as politically relevant as the story of the vikings arriving at the black pool – Dubh Linn – in the 9th century.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nell Clover
R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

The Irish Republic has no more inherent right over Irish-speakers than Germany had over German-speakers in the Soviet Union. This article is a bizarre defence of colonialist irredentism dressed up in liberal sheep’s clothing.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Exactly. In truth the Irish have not generally been exceptional reticent in nursing their grievances and, even within Europe in the last 150 years, the suffering they endured from colonial powers compared to that endured by the peoples of for example Poland, Romania, the Baltic states or Ukraine was modest indeed. A fifth of all the people in Poland in 1939 were killed during the subsequent War, occupation, Holocaust and deportations. And we can see in Ukraine today where such irredentist territorial claims can lead.

Will Longfield
Will Longfield
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Second that. There is a tendency of overseas Irish (especially “Irish” Americans) to conflate to Shoah-proportions the sufferings of the Ireland in the 19th Century and to romanticize the ghastly Irish Civil war and the IRA Campaigns in the late 20th Century.

Will Longfield
Will Longfield
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Second that. There is a tendency of overseas Irish (especially “Irish” Americans) to conflate to Shoah-proportions the sufferings of the Ireland in the 19th Century and to romanticize the ghastly Irish Civil war and the IRA Campaigns in the late 20th Century.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Exactly. In truth the Irish have not generally been exceptional reticent in nursing their grievances and, even within Europe in the last 150 years, the suffering they endured from colonial powers compared to that endured by the peoples of for example Poland, Romania, the Baltic states or Ukraine was modest indeed. A fifth of all the people in Poland in 1939 were killed during the subsequent War, occupation, Holocaust and deportations. And we can see in Ukraine today where such irredentist territorial claims can lead.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

The Irish Republic has no more inherent right over Irish-speakers than Germany had over German-speakers in the Soviet Union. This article is a bizarre defence of colonialist irredentism dressed up in liberal sheep’s clothing.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago

Northern Irish person here. Consumed this ‘article’ with the usual feelings of despair at the pretty standard inaccurate ravings of a plastic paddy tankie.

Came to the comments and was pleasantly surprised at the level of insight here. Good to see the majority of commenters not taken in by the usual propaganda we are exposed to over and over – the ‘unherd’ in this case was not the writer but the commenters – well done all.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Why don’t you give them a pat in the head while you’re at it?
The demography of the Unherd readers is in stark display here, and – with some notable exceptions – their ‘British’ view of Ireland awash with stereotyping, as well as bland – and not so bland – generalisations. The subject is too large to go into in any detail but please bear in mind that Ireland was run like a colony and its partial independence (it didn’t emerge from an Empire) in 1922 was just that.
As for the violence, let’s not forget that the British army, as a reaction to the whole of Ireland being granted limited Home Rule, threatened a mutiny in 1914, and, around the same time, the importation of large quantities of ammunition by the loyalists. From where, you ask – from the German Empire!

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago

The only stereotyping and bland generalisations I can see are from you and Mr Eagleton.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Psst, wanna buy a bridge?

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Psst, wanna buy a bridge?

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney
Rob C
Rob C
1 year ago

Does any of this really matter when the goal of the globalists is to make every country in the world 50% (used to be 10%) African?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

“British army, as a reaction to the whole of Ireland being granted limited Home Rule, threatened a mutiny in 1914”.

No. Only the 3rd Cavalry Brigade in fact! And then mainly the Officers of the 5th* & 16 Lancers, plus the Brigade Commander.

(* Had been disbanded in the 1790’s for a similar act of indiscipline, but were later reinstated.)

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago

Okay, Charlie Asterisk, you have supplied additional information which is of no use whatsoever – unless, that is, you are attempting to muddy the picture and distract from the realpolitik of British rule in Ireland.

Katherin MacCuish
Katherin MacCuish
1 year ago

Why is factual information correcting your inaccuracy of no use ? To have a proper debate facts, not feelings, are essential.

Katherin MacCuish
Katherin MacCuish
1 year ago

Why is factual information correcting your inaccuracy of no use ? To have a proper debate facts, not feelings, are essential.

Alan Fitzgibbon
Alan Fitzgibbon
1 year ago

Ease up on the gin there Lord Stanhope

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago

Okay, Charlie Asterisk, you have supplied additional information which is of no use whatsoever – unless, that is, you are attempting to muddy the picture and distract from the realpolitik of British rule in Ireland.

Alan Fitzgibbon
Alan Fitzgibbon
1 year ago

Ease up on the gin there Lord Stanhope

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago

Thank you all for those lovely red carnations.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago

The only stereotyping and bland generalisations I can see are from you and Mr Eagleton.

Rob C
Rob C
1 year ago

Does any of this really matter when the goal of the globalists is to make every country in the world 50% (used to be 10%) African?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

“British army, as a reaction to the whole of Ireland being granted limited Home Rule, threatened a mutiny in 1914”.

No. Only the 3rd Cavalry Brigade in fact! And then mainly the Officers of the 5th* & 16 Lancers, plus the Brigade Commander.

(* Had been disbanded in the 1790’s for a similar act of indiscipline, but were later reinstated.)

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago

Thank you all for those lovely red carnations.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Glad to hear we restored some of your faith in your fellow man and woman. For what it’s worth, Northern Ireland was the first place my wife and I went on holiday together (also the first member of my immediate family to go there) and I’ve always had an interest in the history so it is a special place in my heart for me.

Clive Green
Clive Green
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Ian, had exactly the same conclusion! Mixed feelings about Eagletons essay
then much relieved by the “little People’s “ intelligence in ‘Comments’

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Why don’t you give them a pat in the head while you’re at it?
The demography of the Unherd readers is in stark display here, and – with some notable exceptions – their ‘British’ view of Ireland awash with stereotyping, as well as bland – and not so bland – generalisations. The subject is too large to go into in any detail but please bear in mind that Ireland was run like a colony and its partial independence (it didn’t emerge from an Empire) in 1922 was just that.
As for the violence, let’s not forget that the British army, as a reaction to the whole of Ireland being granted limited Home Rule, threatened a mutiny in 1914, and, around the same time, the importation of large quantities of ammunition by the loyalists. From where, you ask – from the German Empire!

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Glad to hear we restored some of your faith in your fellow man and woman. For what it’s worth, Northern Ireland was the first place my wife and I went on holiday together (also the first member of my immediate family to go there) and I’ve always had an interest in the history so it is a special place in my heart for me.

Clive Green
Clive Green
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Ian, had exactly the same conclusion! Mixed feelings about Eagletons essay
then much relieved by the “little People’s “ intelligence in ‘Comments’

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago

Northern Irish person here. Consumed this ‘article’ with the usual feelings of despair at the pretty standard inaccurate ravings of a plastic paddy tankie.

Came to the comments and was pleasantly surprised at the level of insight here. Good to see the majority of commenters not taken in by the usual propaganda we are exposed to over and over – the ‘unherd’ in this case was not the writer but the commenters – well done all.

Leejon 0
Leejon 0
1 year ago

Self indulgent whining bullshit!

William Jackson
William Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  Leejon 0

That hits the nail squarely on the head.

William Jackson
William Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  Leejon 0

That hits the nail squarely on the head.

Leejon 0
Leejon 0
1 year ago

Self indulgent whining bullshit!

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago

The author appears to have fallen into the trap of treating Irish nationalist discourse and official Irish history as the same thing. Not once did I see anything referring to the Home Rule crisis of 1912-14 in the article and that the Unionists were even prepared to rise up against the British State to not be governed from Dublin. As another commenter explained, combined with the hardening of Irish nationalism during WW1 and Sinn FĂ©in’s victory in the 1918 general election, there was absolutely no way the Protestant counties of Ulster were going to be part of this new Irish state.

Only the most deluded Irish nationalists at the time could possibly have thought otherwise.

Edit: Also, rather ironic that Ireland is simultaneously the most enthusiastic member of the EU, while easily the most nationalistic country in the EU. Will be interesting to see how this plays out when European federalism gets discussed in the future.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Dellingby
John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago

The author appears to have fallen into the trap of treating Irish nationalist discourse and official Irish history as the same thing. Not once did I see anything referring to the Home Rule crisis of 1912-14 in the article and that the Unionists were even prepared to rise up against the British State to not be governed from Dublin. As another commenter explained, combined with the hardening of Irish nationalism during WW1 and Sinn FĂ©in’s victory in the 1918 general election, there was absolutely no way the Protestant counties of Ulster were going to be part of this new Irish state.

Only the most deluded Irish nationalists at the time could possibly have thought otherwise.

Edit: Also, rather ironic that Ireland is simultaneously the most enthusiastic member of the EU, while easily the most nationalistic country in the EU. Will be interesting to see how this plays out when European federalism gets discussed in the future.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Dellingby
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

I did generally enjoy reading this, but there were some pretty odd sentences in it. Like this:
“When Ireland cast off British rule in 1921, it had the same right as any other state to sovereignty over the whole of its territory. It was deprived of that right by Ulster Unionism and the British government, and continues to be deprived of it today. Ukraine is fighting for that form of sovereignty at the moment, and the British are zealous in their support for it. They aren’t quite so keen on extending the same right to Dublin.”
The first half of it rings true enough and I’m sure you can have endless discussions about whether partition was a historic wrong etc etc. But the second half of the sentence descends into the ridiculous, heaving all those resentments whole and entire into 2023. The British government agreed to the GFA which contains mechanisms for reunification: to say that, post-1998, the British are in any way resisting Ireland’s right to full island sovereignty is absurd.
The author seems to be pressing the point that Ireland hasn’t “come of age” properly because it sweeps its history under the carpet. Maybe that’s not the case: maybe the Irish just realise that constantly rehashing old resentments from centuries past at the dinner table as if they happened yesterday is not worth it and would keep them anchored in the past rather than moving forward to become a modern European nation. And that sounds like a pretty sensible approach to me. Confident and hopeful rather than downtrodden and resentful. That sounds like a mature, modern nation to me.

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Joseph Ruane
Joseph Ruane
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Very sensible comment about Ireland and its relationship to its past, and the comment by John Dellingby that Ireland is easily the ‘most nationalistic country in Europe’ would be more accurate if it said ‘easily the most postnationalist country in Europe’ (compare with Poland, Hungary, Greece
) Comparisons that disregard historical and geopolitical realities are rarely helpful, but, despite their many differences, there are interesting historical parallels between Ireland and Ukraine (Velychenko, Ruane and Hrynevych eds. Ireland and Ukraine: studies in comparative imperial and national history, ibidem Verlag, 2022). 

Last edited 1 year ago by Joseph Ruane
Charlie Two
Charlie Two
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

There was never an independent United Ireland before partition. So why the eff would there be after it? Ireland as such was a collection of mini kingdoms that generally loathed each other, fought endlessly and had no central power, institutions, bureaucracy etc. The idea they had a ‘right’ to ‘their’ territory is absurd. Eagleton is taking out of his arse.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Charlie Two

Please edit the last sentence!!!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Charlie Two

Please edit the last sentence!!!

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I’m surprised the author doesn’t explain that India is in the same boat, waiting for Sovereignty over the whole of its territory of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bill Bailey
Joseph Ruane
Joseph Ruane
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Very sensible comment about Ireland and its relationship to its past, and the comment by John Dellingby that Ireland is easily the ‘most nationalistic country in Europe’ would be more accurate if it said ‘easily the most postnationalist country in Europe’ (compare with Poland, Hungary, Greece
) Comparisons that disregard historical and geopolitical realities are rarely helpful, but, despite their many differences, there are interesting historical parallels between Ireland and Ukraine (Velychenko, Ruane and Hrynevych eds. Ireland and Ukraine: studies in comparative imperial and national history, ibidem Verlag, 2022). 

Last edited 1 year ago by Joseph Ruane
Charlie Two
Charlie Two
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

There was never an independent United Ireland before partition. So why the eff would there be after it? Ireland as such was a collection of mini kingdoms that generally loathed each other, fought endlessly and had no central power, institutions, bureaucracy etc. The idea they had a ‘right’ to ‘their’ territory is absurd. Eagleton is taking out of his arse.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I’m surprised the author doesn’t explain that India is in the same boat, waiting for Sovereignty over the whole of its territory of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bill Bailey
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

I did generally enjoy reading this, but there were some pretty odd sentences in it. Like this:
“When Ireland cast off British rule in 1921, it had the same right as any other state to sovereignty over the whole of its territory. It was deprived of that right by Ulster Unionism and the British government, and continues to be deprived of it today. Ukraine is fighting for that form of sovereignty at the moment, and the British are zealous in their support for it. They aren’t quite so keen on extending the same right to Dublin.”
The first half of it rings true enough and I’m sure you can have endless discussions about whether partition was a historic wrong etc etc. But the second half of the sentence descends into the ridiculous, heaving all those resentments whole and entire into 2023. The British government agreed to the GFA which contains mechanisms for reunification: to say that, post-1998, the British are in any way resisting Ireland’s right to full island sovereignty is absurd.
The author seems to be pressing the point that Ireland hasn’t “come of age” properly because it sweeps its history under the carpet. Maybe that’s not the case: maybe the Irish just realise that constantly rehashing old resentments from centuries past at the dinner table as if they happened yesterday is not worth it and would keep them anchored in the past rather than moving forward to become a modern European nation. And that sounds like a pretty sensible approach to me. Confident and hopeful rather than downtrodden and resentful. That sounds like a mature, modern nation to me.

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
1 year ago

What an idiotic article. To contend that it was only an elite in Northern Ireland who opposed rule from Dublin is laughably ahistorical. Does Terry consider the inhabitants of the Shankhil part of an elite. I can’t remember who it was who said Eagleton had never grown up. It seems he is advocating a takeover of Northern Ireland by Dublin against the wishes of the majority of people in Northern Ireland. He refers to “the Irish” even though a considerable number of people in Ireland do not identify with the Ireland he does.

So what is he advocating? Deportation? Genocide?

I am glad I am cancelling my Unherd subscription. I can read drivel like this in the Guardian for free.

Last edited 1 year ago by Galvatron Stephens
stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago

but you won’t get the same level of quality comments, and you may get an offer hard to refuse.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago

You can still read it for free, BUT only 8 articles a month but then a Tor browser means you can read it all, just not post comments on any article after the 8th per month. I find it interesting because the MSM is a total waste of space.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
1 year ago

He is similar to Shane McGowan in being educated at elite English schools where he nursed a hankering for a romanticised literary and Guinness soaked paddyhood .

Last edited 1 year ago by Alan Osband
stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago

but you won’t get the same level of quality comments, and you may get an offer hard to refuse.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago

You can still read it for free, BUT only 8 articles a month but then a Tor browser means you can read it all, just not post comments on any article after the 8th per month. I find it interesting because the MSM is a total waste of space.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
1 year ago

He is similar to Shane McGowan in being educated at elite English schools where he nursed a hankering for a romanticised literary and Guinness soaked paddyhood .

Last edited 1 year ago by Alan Osband
Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
1 year ago

What an idiotic article. To contend that it was only an elite in Northern Ireland who opposed rule from Dublin is laughably ahistorical. Does Terry consider the inhabitants of the Shankhil part of an elite. I can’t remember who it was who said Eagleton had never grown up. It seems he is advocating a takeover of Northern Ireland by Dublin against the wishes of the majority of people in Northern Ireland. He refers to “the Irish” even though a considerable number of people in Ireland do not identify with the Ireland he does.

So what is he advocating? Deportation? Genocide?

I am glad I am cancelling my Unherd subscription. I can read drivel like this in the Guardian for free.

Last edited 1 year ago by Galvatron Stephens
Paul T
Paul T
1 year ago

Firstly: ‘the first colony in the world to achieve (partial) independence…’ It’s an odd colony that has full representation in the Parliament of the so-called oppressing country, but let’s take the claim at face value. What about 1776? If the author is limiting scope to the 20th century, not only is that a much less significant claim, it’s still wrong. Finland, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia all celebrate(d) their emergence from empires in 1917 or 1918. Historically sloppy.

Secondly, the author is doing some historical whitewashing of his own. I imagine the enmity between Catholicism and Presbyterianism has been much more significant then he suggests. People may not have been concerned about the finer theological points but they could see how the influence of the Catholic Church manifested itself. For two, maybe three generations after independence, the Republic of Ireland was a country where priests abused schoolboys and girls who had sex were locked away in laundries, sometimes for life. This is brushed under the carpet now as a failing of the Catholic Church, but it is part of the guilty history of the Irish state too.

Economically, the country was so incapable of providing even a basic standard of living, let alone a welfare state, that at any time perhaps a third of the working population emigrated. Many ended up here, where they did the worst jobs, suffered discrimination and bad housing, and became the butt of all sorts of jokes. But, for all that, it was still better than what was on offer at home. Like the author’s grandfather and the people of Ulster, people will always choose the better life.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul T

I recommend Bob Geldof’s surprisingly good early memoir, “Is That It?”, for a vivid account of growing up in 1960’s Dublin and the grip the Catholic Church had on people’s lives.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

A lot of Geldof’s memoir was a fashionable attitude already apparent in the Dublin middle classes to re-imagine themselves as heroic and standing up to a tyrannical Catholicism. Though there were certainly pockets of this a lot more recently than the 1960s, in South Dublin, it was already thin on the ground before this.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 year ago

You’re right. By the early 1970s, the Catholic Church in the minds of South Dubliners was well on the way to becoming a straw man for increasingly dominant left-wing ideas.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago

Thank you – that’s informative.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 year ago

You’re right. By the early 1970s, the Catholic Church in the minds of South Dubliners was well on the way to becoming a straw man for increasingly dominant left-wing ideas.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago

Thank you – that’s informative.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Geldof was a deeply conservative middle-class private-school educated prat masquerading as a social rebel. Always good for a quote, but don’t mistake him for someone with a balanced viewpoint on anything.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

A lot of Geldof’s memoir was a fashionable attitude already apparent in the Dublin middle classes to re-imagine themselves as heroic and standing up to a tyrannical Catholicism. Though there were certainly pockets of this a lot more recently than the 1960s, in South Dublin, it was already thin on the ground before this.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Geldof was a deeply conservative middle-class private-school educated prat masquerading as a social rebel. Always good for a quote, but don’t mistake him for someone with a balanced viewpoint on anything.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul T

I recommend Bob Geldof’s surprisingly good early memoir, “Is That It?”, for a vivid account of growing up in 1960’s Dublin and the grip the Catholic Church had on people’s lives.

Paul T
Paul T
1 year ago

Firstly: ‘the first colony in the world to achieve (partial) independence…’ It’s an odd colony that has full representation in the Parliament of the so-called oppressing country, but let’s take the claim at face value. What about 1776? If the author is limiting scope to the 20th century, not only is that a much less significant claim, it’s still wrong. Finland, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia all celebrate(d) their emergence from empires in 1917 or 1918. Historically sloppy.

Secondly, the author is doing some historical whitewashing of his own. I imagine the enmity between Catholicism and Presbyterianism has been much more significant then he suggests. People may not have been concerned about the finer theological points but they could see how the influence of the Catholic Church manifested itself. For two, maybe three generations after independence, the Republic of Ireland was a country where priests abused schoolboys and girls who had sex were locked away in laundries, sometimes for life. This is brushed under the carpet now as a failing of the Catholic Church, but it is part of the guilty history of the Irish state too.

Economically, the country was so incapable of providing even a basic standard of living, let alone a welfare state, that at any time perhaps a third of the working population emigrated. Many ended up here, where they did the worst jobs, suffered discrimination and bad housing, and became the butt of all sorts of jokes. But, for all that, it was still better than what was on offer at home. Like the author’s grandfather and the people of Ulster, people will always choose the better life.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Nice try. But it all falls apart with the comparison to Ukraine. Eagleton is an ethnic nationalist when that suits his argument and a constitutional democrat when it doesn’t.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Ireland is a uniquely privileged country that is able to have irrendentism as official policy and also receive worldwide support for it.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

The worldwide support is born of ignorance. they havnt asked the people of either Northern OR Southern Ireland whether they actually want to ‘merge.
I would not be surprised if the people of The South – would reject such a merger.
This idea exists in some utopian dream never to be actually implimented – including of ”Irish” Biden, who recently also said he was not Irish. Perhaps he read my post that his family largely came from Berkshire.

Last edited 1 year ago by rob drummond
Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

Sussex, but otherwise, yes.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

Sussex, but otherwise, yes.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

The worldwide support is born of ignorance. they havnt asked the people of either Northern OR Southern Ireland whether they actually want to ‘merge.
I would not be surprised if the people of The South – would reject such a merger.
This idea exists in some utopian dream never to be actually implimented – including of ”Irish” Biden, who recently also said he was not Irish. Perhaps he read my post that his family largely came from Berkshire.

Last edited 1 year ago by rob drummond
John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Ireland is a uniquely privileged country that is able to have irrendentism as official policy and also receive worldwide support for it.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Nice try. But it all falls apart with the comparison to Ukraine. Eagleton is an ethnic nationalist when that suits his argument and a constitutional democrat when it doesn’t.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 year ago

Can we safely assume that a Sinn Fein victory in the 1918 election would have translated into a win for a referendum to leave the UK? It couldn’t be assumed with the success of the SNP in Scotland. An awful lot of patriotic Irish people would not have voted to leave the UK.
Sinn Fein’s campaign of violence likely frightened people on all sides of the issue. Of course it was all a legacy of 1916. But the Southern Irish psyche has never recovered. It still does not regard Ulster Protestants as really “Irish”.
It is entirely respectable in Dublin polite society to disparage Ulster Unionists as backward idiots. Southern Irish nationalists don’t really love Ireland – just their version of it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul MacDonnell
Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago

Spot on.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago

In many of the seats Sinn Fein won, there was no challenger, even among the more moderate Irish Party. Doesn’t take much to wonder why.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

Knees are very useful when they work.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

Knees are very useful when they work.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago

Spot on.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago

In many of the seats Sinn Fein won, there was no challenger, even among the more moderate Irish Party. Doesn’t take much to wonder why.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 year ago

Can we safely assume that a Sinn Fein victory in the 1918 election would have translated into a win for a referendum to leave the UK? It couldn’t be assumed with the success of the SNP in Scotland. An awful lot of patriotic Irish people would not have voted to leave the UK.
Sinn Fein’s campaign of violence likely frightened people on all sides of the issue. Of course it was all a legacy of 1916. But the Southern Irish psyche has never recovered. It still does not regard Ulster Protestants as really “Irish”.
It is entirely respectable in Dublin polite society to disparage Ulster Unionists as backward idiots. Southern Irish nationalists don’t really love Ireland – just their version of it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul MacDonnell
Cassander Antipatru
Cassander Antipatru
1 year ago

Northern Ireland was born of a cynical exercise in gerrymandering to ensure a permanent Protestant majority in the region.

It’s funny, when former colonial powers don’t bother changing the borders of multi-ethnic colonies, they get blamed for “forcing different peoples to live together” and “causing ethnic tension”; when they do change the borders, they get accused of “cynical gerrymandering”. A case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

When Ireland cast off British rule in 1921, it had the same right as any other state to sovereignty over the whole of its territory. It was deprived of that right by Ulster Unionism and the British government, and continues to be deprived of it today.

I’m surprised this needs pointing out, but Ireland wasn’t a state prior to independence, and hence cannot have had “the same right as any other state”. And what would this right be based on, anyway? Posession? There wasn’t an Irish government to possess anything. Self-determination? The northern Irish didn’t want to be part of the new country, they wanted to be part of Britain. Historical precedent? Ireland before the English conquest was a series of competing minor kingdoms; there only precedent for a united Ireland is under English/British rule.

One of the benefits of being a victor is that you don’t need to keep worrying about who you are. It is those who are oppressed or excluded who have to carry the problem of their identities around with them like a daily burden.

Lol, have you looked at discourse on British history recently? “Carrying the problem of their identities around with them like a daily burden” is exactly what happens to people constantly told that their race and nationality is inherently oppressive and racist.

Cassander Antipatru
Cassander Antipatru
1 year ago

Northern Ireland was born of a cynical exercise in gerrymandering to ensure a permanent Protestant majority in the region.

It’s funny, when former colonial powers don’t bother changing the borders of multi-ethnic colonies, they get blamed for “forcing different peoples to live together” and “causing ethnic tension”; when they do change the borders, they get accused of “cynical gerrymandering”. A case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

When Ireland cast off British rule in 1921, it had the same right as any other state to sovereignty over the whole of its territory. It was deprived of that right by Ulster Unionism and the British government, and continues to be deprived of it today.

I’m surprised this needs pointing out, but Ireland wasn’t a state prior to independence, and hence cannot have had “the same right as any other state”. And what would this right be based on, anyway? Posession? There wasn’t an Irish government to possess anything. Self-determination? The northern Irish didn’t want to be part of the new country, they wanted to be part of Britain. Historical precedent? Ireland before the English conquest was a series of competing minor kingdoms; there only precedent for a united Ireland is under English/British rule.

One of the benefits of being a victor is that you don’t need to keep worrying about who you are. It is those who are oppressed or excluded who have to carry the problem of their identities around with them like a daily burden.

Lol, have you looked at discourse on British history recently? “Carrying the problem of their identities around with them like a daily burden” is exactly what happens to people constantly told that their race and nationality is inherently oppressive and racist.

Paul T
Paul T
1 year ago

“
because my skin was an acceptable colour”. Projection; don’t put your racist thought onto others. It is what you thought.

Paul T
Paul T
1 year ago

“
because my skin was an acceptable colour”. Projection; don’t put your racist thought onto others. It is what you thought.

Roger Mortimer
Roger Mortimer
1 year ago

“It’s hard to see how this very English even-handedness applies to women versus rapists, slaves against slave-owners
”

It’s also hard to see how such an analogy could possibly apply to Northern Ireland, with the UVF and UDA on one side and the various iterations of the IRA on the other. Remind me, which side are the helpless victims here?

As for Dublin being “denied” anything, I can guarantee you every Taoiseach since independence thanked God three times a day that the crazies listed above weren’t his problem. No doubt the day is coming when Catholics become the majority in the north, at which point they may well vote for unification, but I hope someone bothers to check whether the Republic actually wants this. Living next to a madhouse is a different matter from being asked to run it.

But my favourite part of the article has to be where you say the Irish don’t think enough about the past. This is the big island to the west of Britain we’re talking about?

Last edited 1 year ago by Roger Mortimer
David D'Andrea
David D'Andrea
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Mortimer

I think you are conveniently forgetting the “near-genocidal” part

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Mortimer

The Irish live in the past and blame “England” for most of their problems. Its easy to blame someone else.

David D'Andrea
David D'Andrea
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Mortimer

I think you are conveniently forgetting the “near-genocidal” part

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Mortimer

The Irish live in the past and blame “England” for most of their problems. Its easy to blame someone else.

Roger Mortimer
Roger Mortimer
1 year ago

“It’s hard to see how this very English even-handedness applies to women versus rapists, slaves against slave-owners
”

It’s also hard to see how such an analogy could possibly apply to Northern Ireland, with the UVF and UDA on one side and the various iterations of the IRA on the other. Remind me, which side are the helpless victims here?

As for Dublin being “denied” anything, I can guarantee you every Taoiseach since independence thanked God three times a day that the crazies listed above weren’t his problem. No doubt the day is coming when Catholics become the majority in the north, at which point they may well vote for unification, but I hope someone bothers to check whether the Republic actually wants this. Living next to a madhouse is a different matter from being asked to run it.

But my favourite part of the article has to be where you say the Irish don’t think enough about the past. This is the big island to the west of Britain we’re talking about?

Last edited 1 year ago by Roger Mortimer
Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 year ago

Ireland never had a referendum to leave the UK. The 1918 election was no more a referendum than an SNP majority in Scotland is a referendum on that country leaving the UK. The IRA used violance against anyone who opposed them – including we can safely assume Southern Irish Catholic democratic nationalists. Irish nationalism was also a cultural disaster as the official education agencies tried to expunge “English” culture in favour of a fake rural ideal.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago

expunge “English” culture? Yeah why not take the English language out of Ireland and it would be a very much poorer country

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

Certainly Paddy Kavenagh would have though so.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

Certainly Paddy Kavenagh would have though so.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago

expunge “English” culture? Yeah why not take the English language out of Ireland and it would be a very much poorer country

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 year ago

Ireland never had a referendum to leave the UK. The 1918 election was no more a referendum than an SNP majority in Scotland is a referendum on that country leaving the UK. The IRA used violance against anyone who opposed them – including we can safely assume Southern Irish Catholic democratic nationalists. Irish nationalism was also a cultural disaster as the official education agencies tried to expunge “English” culture in favour of a fake rural ideal.

blackbear666.mt
blackbear666.mt
1 year ago

Seems a most patronising article. Written from an expatriate and academic view.

blackbear666.mt
blackbear666.mt
1 year ago

Seems a most patronising article. Written from an expatriate and academic view.

R S Foster
R S Foster
1 year ago

…I’m all for facing facts, so perhaps the Author might want to face these…
…at a time where upwards of 140,000 Volunteer Irishmen were fighting for Britain on the Western Front, the “Celtic Mist” Ethno-Nationalists of the IRA managed to raise no more than 5,000 for the Easter Rising…and the “blood and soil” romanticism that actuated them runs in a straight line through Facism to Bergen-Belsen…as indicated by the fact that when the whole free world was uniting against it, some Irishmen could only see “England’s Danger is Ireland’s Opportunity”…took the other side, and attempted a terrorist campaign against their nearest neighbours…
(…mind you, the forbears of the SNP were no better..!)
…they had “won” their Freedom only because the “Brutal” British Empire was unwilling to attempt more than a limited Police Action to contain them…where we could have sailed the Grand Fleet round their coast, flattened everything up to twenty miles inland, and then used the first “Combined-Arms” Army in History (with tanks, attack aircraft and bombers working in concert)…to finish off the survivors…
…which makes the comparison with the Ukraine offensively egregious, in light of Stalin’s “Holodomor”…conducted little more than a decade later, bringing a recalcitrant province to heel by a mixture of violence and starvation, and cold…just as his successors are seeking to do now…
…like it or not, the British Army were called on in 1968 to protect the Catholic Community…giving the IRA an opportunity to attack both them and the Unionist Majority in a (partly-successful) effort to turn a hotly-contested Civil Rights campaign into an actual Civil War, with no thought to possible casualties on both sides, civilian or otherwise…
…and, moving from fact to opinion…
…the Irish State is able to maintain it’s self-righteous neutrality…coupled with a foreign policy of being as obnoxious as possible to the neighbours…only because the “hateful” British allowed immense numbers of Irish Men and Women to live and work here freely, as though they were British…whilst sending their remittances home…not necessary now only because Ireland has become a tax haven for international capital, and a net recipient of EU largesse
…and their safety is guaranteed only because they know that we will not only not attack them…but also protect their Air and Sea space for them, as a part of our obligations to NATO…
…and if you doubt that, just imagine how very different Ireland would be if, since the end of the Great War…they had needed to defend themselves at the same cost and with the same vigour as the Finns have against their previous Imperial overlords…Finland has around six million people and spends nearly 6 Billion Euros on defence…Ireland has over five million and spends less than 1 Billion…so by that reckoning they would need to increase that budget five-fold…were we anything like the brutal savages he clearly sees us as…

Last edited 1 year ago by R S Foster
John Tangney
John Tangney
1 year ago
Reply to  R S Foster

Straight line from Pearse et al to Bergen Belsen is a bit much. They’re second cousins at best. Much as I disagree with Eagleton I’m not going smear him with responsibility for Stalin’s purges because he’s a Marxist. That’s the logic of the kind of cultural commissars who are trying to pin the entire history of racism on white students at universities and that has students turning away from the humanities in droves.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Tangney
R S Foster
R S Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  John Tangney

…my point is that the “Blood and Soil” ethno-nationalism of Sinn Fein is exactly the sort of thinking developed further in “Mein Kampf”…with results that were far from predictable when that wretched tome was published in 1924…but morphed into something truly unspeakable twenty years on, not least because it took root in a place big enough to be truly dangerous…as Germany was, but Ireland (fortunately) isn’t…
…which is just as well considering how savage the Civil War they had after we left was…featuring, among other delights…executions carried out by lashing groups of men together around a bundle of hand grenades and pulling out the pin…
…and on Stalin’s purges I’m not looking to hold Eagleton responsible for those…so much as point out the offensive stupidity of conflating what Russia did (and is doing) in the Ukraine…with the British relationship with Ireland both before and after partition…

John Tangney
John Tangney
1 year ago
Reply to  R S Foster

Yes , you have to go back a bit farther to find Ukraine-level savagery from the Brits and proto-Brits, albeit on a scale permitted by the technology of the time.

John Tangney
John Tangney
1 year ago
Reply to  R S Foster

Yes , you have to go back a bit farther to find Ukraine-level savagery from the Brits and proto-Brits, albeit on a scale permitted by the technology of the time.

R S Foster
R S Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  John Tangney

…my point is that the “Blood and Soil” ethno-nationalism of Sinn Fein is exactly the sort of thinking developed further in “Mein Kampf”…with results that were far from predictable when that wretched tome was published in 1924…but morphed into something truly unspeakable twenty years on, not least because it took root in a place big enough to be truly dangerous…as Germany was, but Ireland (fortunately) isn’t…
…which is just as well considering how savage the Civil War they had after we left was…featuring, among other delights…executions carried out by lashing groups of men together around a bundle of hand grenades and pulling out the pin…
…and on Stalin’s purges I’m not looking to hold Eagleton responsible for those…so much as point out the offensive stupidity of conflating what Russia did (and is doing) in the Ukraine…with the British relationship with Ireland both before and after partition…

John Tangney
John Tangney
1 year ago
Reply to  R S Foster

Straight line from Pearse et al to Bergen Belsen is a bit much. They’re second cousins at best. Much as I disagree with Eagleton I’m not going smear him with responsibility for Stalin’s purges because he’s a Marxist. That’s the logic of the kind of cultural commissars who are trying to pin the entire history of racism on white students at universities and that has students turning away from the humanities in droves.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Tangney
R S Foster
R S Foster
1 year ago

…I’m all for facing facts, so perhaps the Author might want to face these…
…at a time where upwards of 140,000 Volunteer Irishmen were fighting for Britain on the Western Front, the “Celtic Mist” Ethno-Nationalists of the IRA managed to raise no more than 5,000 for the Easter Rising…and the “blood and soil” romanticism that actuated them runs in a straight line through Facism to Bergen-Belsen…as indicated by the fact that when the whole free world was uniting against it, some Irishmen could only see “England’s Danger is Ireland’s Opportunity”…took the other side, and attempted a terrorist campaign against their nearest neighbours…
(…mind you, the forbears of the SNP were no better..!)
…they had “won” their Freedom only because the “Brutal” British Empire was unwilling to attempt more than a limited Police Action to contain them…where we could have sailed the Grand Fleet round their coast, flattened everything up to twenty miles inland, and then used the first “Combined-Arms” Army in History (with tanks, attack aircraft and bombers working in concert)…to finish off the survivors…
…which makes the comparison with the Ukraine offensively egregious, in light of Stalin’s “Holodomor”…conducted little more than a decade later, bringing a recalcitrant province to heel by a mixture of violence and starvation, and cold…just as his successors are seeking to do now…
…like it or not, the British Army were called on in 1968 to protect the Catholic Community…giving the IRA an opportunity to attack both them and the Unionist Majority in a (partly-successful) effort to turn a hotly-contested Civil Rights campaign into an actual Civil War, with no thought to possible casualties on both sides, civilian or otherwise…
…and, moving from fact to opinion…
…the Irish State is able to maintain it’s self-righteous neutrality…coupled with a foreign policy of being as obnoxious as possible to the neighbours…only because the “hateful” British allowed immense numbers of Irish Men and Women to live and work here freely, as though they were British…whilst sending their remittances home…not necessary now only because Ireland has become a tax haven for international capital, and a net recipient of EU largesse
…and their safety is guaranteed only because they know that we will not only not attack them…but also protect their Air and Sea space for them, as a part of our obligations to NATO…
…and if you doubt that, just imagine how very different Ireland would be if, since the end of the Great War…they had needed to defend themselves at the same cost and with the same vigour as the Finns have against their previous Imperial overlords…Finland has around six million people and spends nearly 6 Billion Euros on defence…Ireland has over five million and spends less than 1 Billion…so by that reckoning they would need to increase that budget five-fold…were we anything like the brutal savages he clearly sees us as…

Last edited 1 year ago by R S Foster
Man In A Shed
Man In A Shed
1 year ago

What happened to the protestant population in the free state ? Effectively it was ethnically cleansed.

Daniel Emerson
Daniel Emerson
1 year ago
Reply to  Man In A Shed

That’s a strong term but the discrimination practiced against them resulted in the same outcome.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Man In A Shed

what utter rubbish- there are many protestants in Ireland including big ” Anglo” landowners: don’t confuse Church of Ireland with Presbyterians, always assuming you actually know the difference.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

is not ignorance the bedrock of this entire debate? The Church of Ireland does not have any ” borders”, neither does the Catholic church! No one comments as to how ( not least in Cork) there are many protestants in The Republic, and no Catholic – Protestant issues? because they are not Presbyterian quasi Scotch Orangemen?!!!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

is not ignorance the bedrock of this entire debate? The Church of Ireland does not have any ” borders”, neither does the Catholic church! No one comments as to how ( not least in Cork) there are many protestants in The Republic, and no Catholic – Protestant issues? because they are not Presbyterian quasi Scotch Orangemen?!!!

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Man In A Shed

Rubbish. The new Irish state was poor, and economic insecurity and depression encouraged many relatively well-educated and mobile Protestants to up sticks and go. A significant contributor to this population decline can be identified with the Great War. The horrific slaughter of young Irish Protestant men in the first World War had a devastating and disproportionate impact on the male Protestant population of the South.
This was reflected in the birth rate for decades following the war. In addition, the Northern Ireland regime led by Sir James Craig enticed large numbers of Protestants, through the offer of government jobs and housing, to relocate north of the Border in an attempt to offset Catholic majorities in Border counties. Some in government service chose to leave with their families rather than enter the civil/public service of the Free State.
In addition, there was a large British military establishment in Ireland which was stood down in 1922. This group was disproportionately Protestant.
It is worth noting that two Protestants who decided to stay south subsequently became presidents of Ireland.
In short, the reasonable view of middle-class Protestants after 1922 was that the new Ireland was a place of very limited prosects, and you’d simply have a better life in Britain, or in the North.
And, consider that, while Protestantism in Ireland has been increasing since the turn of the century, Catholicism has undergone a dramatic collapse. 
Overall though, modern Ireland is largely a secular country where love of money triumphs over just about anything else.

Childers Erskine
Childers Erskine
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

‘It is worth noting that two Protestants who decided to stay south subsequently became presidents of Ireland’ Not that simple though, is it?

Childers Erskine
Childers Erskine
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

‘It is worth noting that two Protestants who decided to stay south subsequently became presidents of Ireland’ Not that simple though, is it?

Daniel Emerson
Daniel Emerson
1 year ago
Reply to  Man In A Shed

That’s a strong term but the discrimination practiced against them resulted in the same outcome.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Man In A Shed

what utter rubbish- there are many protestants in Ireland including big ” Anglo” landowners: don’t confuse Church of Ireland with Presbyterians, always assuming you actually know the difference.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Man In A Shed

Rubbish. The new Irish state was poor, and economic insecurity and depression encouraged many relatively well-educated and mobile Protestants to up sticks and go. A significant contributor to this population decline can be identified with the Great War. The horrific slaughter of young Irish Protestant men in the first World War had a devastating and disproportionate impact on the male Protestant population of the South.
This was reflected in the birth rate for decades following the war. In addition, the Northern Ireland regime led by Sir James Craig enticed large numbers of Protestants, through the offer of government jobs and housing, to relocate north of the Border in an attempt to offset Catholic majorities in Border counties. Some in government service chose to leave with their families rather than enter the civil/public service of the Free State.
In addition, there was a large British military establishment in Ireland which was stood down in 1922. This group was disproportionately Protestant.
It is worth noting that two Protestants who decided to stay south subsequently became presidents of Ireland.
In short, the reasonable view of middle-class Protestants after 1922 was that the new Ireland was a place of very limited prosects, and you’d simply have a better life in Britain, or in the North.
And, consider that, while Protestantism in Ireland has been increasing since the turn of the century, Catholicism has undergone a dramatic collapse. 
Overall though, modern Ireland is largely a secular country where love of money triumphs over just about anything else.

Man In A Shed
Man In A Shed
1 year ago

What happened to the protestant population in the free state ? Effectively it was ethnically cleansed.

Charlie Two
Charlie Two
1 year ago

What a load of tripe. Eagleton should be ashamed of his desperate lack of historical knowledge. Stick to literary criticism, it takes less brain power than history and facts and all of that stuff.

Charlie Two
Charlie Two
1 year ago

What a load of tripe. Eagleton should be ashamed of his desperate lack of historical knowledge. Stick to literary criticism, it takes less brain power than history and facts and all of that stuff.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago

Speaking as a cynical Englishman, it seems to me that many of the problems in Ireland could be resolved if the more unruly inhabitants of that blessed Isle simply refrained from hating and killing each other.

Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

“Relative” peace – relative to what? There is still violence and intimidation there, just at a much lower level. You just seem like a clueless gimp who want to attack the English.

Last edited 1 year ago by Galvatron Stephens
Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

One of life’s little ironies is my Catholic friends in NI, who have members in the police, have basically a ‘clear view’ front garden devoid of walls, bushes, trees etc so as to afford no cover for assassins. They also check their cars before using them EVERY time. BUT not because of the UVF et al, but because there is always one of the 57 varieties of IRA trying to murder them because they did what Sinn Fein wanted, joined the NI police.

Stephen McAlpine
Stephen McAlpine
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Knife crime in London is rampant. To what should I put that down to? The unruly inhabitants who kill each other?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Actually it is because the afro Caribbean street gang drug dealers , stuck at the bottom end of the supply chain, have to fight for ever smaller patches, as the supply chain and power has been taken over by mainly Albanians.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Actually it is because the afro Caribbean street gang drug dealers , stuck at the bottom end of the supply chain, have to fight for ever smaller patches, as the supply chain and power has been taken over by mainly Albanians.

Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

“Relative” peace – relative to what? There is still violence and intimidation there, just at a much lower level. You just seem like a clueless gimp who want to attack the English.

Last edited 1 year ago by Galvatron Stephens
Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

One of life’s little ironies is my Catholic friends in NI, who have members in the police, have basically a ‘clear view’ front garden devoid of walls, bushes, trees etc so as to afford no cover for assassins. They also check their cars before using them EVERY time. BUT not because of the UVF et al, but because there is always one of the 57 varieties of IRA trying to murder them because they did what Sinn Fein wanted, joined the NI police.

Stephen McAlpine
Stephen McAlpine
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Knife crime in London is rampant. To what should I put that down to? The unruly inhabitants who kill each other?

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago

Speaking as a cynical Englishman, it seems to me that many of the problems in Ireland could be resolved if the more unruly inhabitants of that blessed Isle simply refrained from hating and killing each other.

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
1 year ago

Eagleton says mindlessly: “Northern Ireland was born of a cynical exercise in gerrymandering to ensure a permanent Protestant majority in the region.”
Every state does exactly that (except those made by God) otherwise why have nation states?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Dudgeon

No they do not, what arrant nonsense?

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago

So Pakistan and Bangladesh are gerry mandered from India? Applying the same criteria to those 3 areas would result in more bloodshed than could be possible with the elimination of every living being in ALL of Ireland.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago

So Pakistan and Bangladesh are gerry mandered from India? Applying the same criteria to those 3 areas would result in more bloodshed than could be possible with the elimination of every living being in ALL of Ireland.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Dudgeon

The problem was the artificiality of it. In the interests of securing a Protestant ascendancy, it drove a coach and 4 through established communities. Divide and conquer works though, from the perspective of the colonist:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2004/07/14/divide-and-conquer-as-imperial-rules/

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Yawn. As if divide and conquer isn’t everyone’s SOP.

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Yawn. As if divide and conquer isn’t everyone’s SOP.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Dudgeon

No they do not, what arrant nonsense?

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Dudgeon

The problem was the artificiality of it. In the interests of securing a Protestant ascendancy, it drove a coach and 4 through established communities. Divide and conquer works though, from the perspective of the colonist:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2004/07/14/divide-and-conquer-as-imperial-rules/

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
1 year ago

Eagleton says mindlessly: “Northern Ireland was born of a cynical exercise in gerrymandering to ensure a permanent Protestant majority in the region.”
Every state does exactly that (except those made by God) otherwise why have nation states?

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
1 year ago

We British have no desire whatever to own any part of Ireland. I am sure the writer of this article knows this perfectly well but chooses to suppress or ignore that truth.

Surely if the nationalists/Catholics have the right to express their identity and have institutions of government that express it, then the unionists/Protestants have the same right. The nationalists/Catholics didn’t want to be part of the UK; the unionists/Protestants didn’t want to be part of an independent Ireland. Why is the former acceptable to the writer of this article but the latter is unacceptable? That kind of prejudice is pretty ugly.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
1 year ago

We British have no desire whatever to own any part of Ireland. I am sure the writer of this article knows this perfectly well but chooses to suppress or ignore that truth.

Surely if the nationalists/Catholics have the right to express their identity and have institutions of government that express it, then the unionists/Protestants have the same right. The nationalists/Catholics didn’t want to be part of the UK; the unionists/Protestants didn’t want to be part of an independent Ireland. Why is the former acceptable to the writer of this article but the latter is unacceptable? That kind of prejudice is pretty ugly.

Jacqueline Walker
Jacqueline Walker
1 year ago

Ha! And I thought this article was actually going to be about all the things Irish politicians and government (and some sectors of Irish society) still do brush under the carpet like proper recompense for the Magdalen Laundries or the Tuam Babies or the current homelessness issues or even, if we do want to go back to those times of 100 years ago, the Civil War (probably needs another 100 years before that can be talked about) but no. Actually though this article is the unherd equivalent of Fintan O’Toole’s weekly anti-brit rant in the Irish Times.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago

Some people (Fintan) carry hate around with them far too long. They dont realise how it eats away at them. They should move on and free themselves of their self imposed tyranny

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago

Some people (Fintan) carry hate around with them far too long. They dont realise how it eats away at them. They should move on and free themselves of their self imposed tyranny

Jacqueline Walker