The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewPatrick Cockburn Archive
Having Lived in Belfast at the Height of the Troubles, I'm Worried
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Warnings about the damaging impact on the Northern Ireland peace process of the return to a physical border between the north and the south post-Brexit understate the danger. Those issuing these warnings point to the problems posed by a hard border to relations between nationalist and unionist communities, to power sharing between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and to commerce within Ireland and between Britain and Ireland.

But the opposite of a peace process is a war process and this is not so far away as it might seem. Peace in Northern Ireland depends ultimately not so much on power sharing but on a complicated but stable balance of power between communities and it is this which is now being eroded by a Brexit-obsessed British Government.

A central ingredient for violence in Ireland between 1968 and the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 was that for most of that period British governments were in effect supporting the predominance of Protestants over Roman Catholics. It became more decorous to use political epithets – unionists and nationalists – to refer to the two sides, but the sectarian divide has always been at the heart of the Troubles since the first civil rights marches in 1968, complicated though the conflict has always been by the broader claims of Irish nationalism. So long as this was the British posture, the balance of power was always skewed against constitutional non-violent nationalist opposition to the status quo.

The British position changed in 1990, when Peter Brooke, the Northern Ireland Secretary, said that Britain had no bias or national interests of its own in Northern Ireland. This made the relationship between nationalists and unionists more even and opened the door for even-handed mediation by successive British and Irish governments. Compromise between unionists and nationalists became more feasible – and the use of the gun more counterproductive – once bargaining had begun about how power should be divided.

It is this process which is now going into reverse: Brexit makes Northern Ireland more distinctly British, which is why the DUP supports Britain’s departure from the EU, despite the damage to local economy. What makes the border issue so much more inflammatory than it would otherwise be is that the British Government is no longer neutral: on the contrary, its very existence depends on being supported by the votes of the DUP in Parliament.

It is extraordinary that Theresa May’s deal with the DUP after she lost her parliamentary majority in the general election in June should have gone through with so little protest or realisation of its destructive consequences for peace in Northern Ireland. It is absurd to imagine that the present British Government, wholly absorbed in negotiating Brexit and determined not to hold another general election which it would probably lose to Labour, is in any position to mediate fairly in Northern Ireland.

British commentators on “the border and Brexit” generally feel that any reference to Ireland is incomplete without a dollop of history thrown in. They frequently cite Churchill’s hackneyed line about the re-emergence of “the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone” as an issue, unaffected by the cataclysm of the Great War. The quote has a patronising ring to it – “Why are those fellows so obsessed by the past?” – and is in any case misleading about present developments. What is really re-emerging with the Conservative-DUP alliance is a return to the fatal combination between the Conservatives and the unionists in Ireland which in the late 19th and early 20th century defeated or blocked successive Home Rule Bills. It was this failure of constitutional nationalism that gave legitimacy to physical force as an alternative option.

A further reason why the gun and the bomb may come back into Northern Ireland politics, and thus into relations between Ireland and Britain, is that they have proved effective in the past. Prior to 1968, the nationalist community in Northern Ireland suffered from being a minority discriminated against by unionist governments permanently in power and backed by the British state.

A couple of years before the violence began, a British newspaper had published an excoriating piece about the way the province was run, called “John Bull’s Political Slum”, but British governments had blithely ignored the stench from the slum since 1922. It was only when street protests morphed into violence and, soon after, into a vicious guerrilla that they began to pay attention.

Constitutional Irish nationalists are often self-deceiving or dishonest about the degree to which their own leverage has depended on the alternative to them being the gunman. I was living in Belfast during the height of the troubles between 1972 and 1975 when unionist politicians complained that the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), the main political voice of the nationalist community, depended for their political clout on the actions of the IRA. The SDLP leaders brushed this criticism aside, saying that they absolutely condemned “the men of violence”.

Their condemnation may have been sincere, but that did not mean that they did not benefit politically from the actions of the IRA. One person on the nationalist side who was realistic about this was the SDLP leader Paddy Devlin, briefly a minister in a power-sharing government in 1974. I remember him saying to me that “the unionists have a point: I can pick up a phone and get put through to almost any British minister, aside from the prime minister. I can do this not because they care very much about me or the SDLP, but because they would prefer to talk to us than to the Provisional IRA”. In due time, British governments ended up doing just that, however much they tried to disguise the fact.

ORDER IT NOW

It is depressing to see how quickly the lessons of the 30-year-long war in Ireland are being forgotten and old mistakes repeated, though half a century ago they led to the most intense guerrilla war fought in Western Europe since the Second World War. One of the few great successes of British governments in recent decades was to end the conflict which it only did after immense and sustained efforts.

This achievement is now being thrown away. The proponents of Brexit, insofar as they thought about the border issue at all, regarded it as minor one. So it is in terms of population and geographical area involved, but this did not prevent it becoming a running sore previously and there is no reason – given the British Government’s present political trajectory – that it should not do so again.

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness may no longer lead Sinn Fein, but this is scarcely comforting. While they were there, they carried a degree of authority and control within the Republican movement that their successors cannot match. The DUP, the party of Ian Paisley and which has a deeply sectarian tradition, has an armlock on the British Government while a reinvigorated border will make Northern Ireland more British and less Irish. It would be surprising if there are not some Republicans who think that Britain is discarding the long-negotiated agreements and compromises that brought peace. There may not be many people who think so, but then you do not need many to bring the gun back into the politics of Ireland.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Brexit, Britain, Northern Ireland 
Hide 34 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. Anonym says:

    In an Ireland of increasing non-Irish and non-white immigration, the Troubles are of waning relevance.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_Republic_of_Ireland

    At the moment, the largest figure given for the non-Irish is 18%, and that’s likely grown since then. The non-white percentage is already 8%. Reading this article, I’m reminded of the concept (probably done in movies or books) where the major powers cease conflict and assist each other to repel aliens in the event of an alien invasion. Reagan actually asked Gorbachev if they would do this – they both agreed.

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/reagan-and-gorbachev-agreed-pause-cold-war-case-alien-invasion-180957402/

    This article makes me consider what might happen if those leaders had “modern” PC attitudes, reminiscent of the supposed attitudes of the Irish. “So Mr Gorbachev, what would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?”

    ‘Well Mr Reagan, what do you mean by “attacked”? Are they armed? Are you sure these aliens are not just undocumented Americans? Do they not have some moderates among them who would make great Americans? I would hate to aid and abet speciesism, Mr Reagan. No, I would maintain a close watch on the tanks and missiles in Europe, lest the war between us goes hot. In fact, we see the so-called alien ‘invasion’ as a great help to our aging population. Economists all agree that the aliens will make great future Russians and help our GDP immensely. But Mr Reagan, we will be watching very closely your maneuvering and war games on our borders, that I can assure you.”

    If “the first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”, I would add to that the economists.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/why-migration-to-ireland-should-be-encouraged-1.3157810?mode=amp

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
    , @Mitleser
  2. As an Irish person I don’t see much need for concern. You have to remember Irish people lived effectively under occupation for centuries. The resulting effect on Irish culture cannot be underestimated. Mainly, it has resulted in extremely effective group adhesion and very little tolerance for ‘turncoats’. Irish people are far crueler than the average ‘nice American’ and almost obsessively tribal to the extent that people from different parts of the country are wary of other Irish people not from their area. Non Irish are tolerated but that is all, they will never be Irish.

    A bit like the Japanese the situation could very quickly spiral into a nationalistic bloodbath if not managed carefully. One look at Northern Ireland is all you need to know.

    • Replies: @neutral
  3. I believe that the Irish border is an intractable problem of Brexit, and that it will eventually bring down the negotiations.

    If the UK wishes to remain in the Single Market and Customs Area, the EU will insist on the free movement of people between the UK and EU, which is unacceptable to the UK government.

    So there will be inevitably be tariff barriers between Great Britain and the EU – including the Republic of Ireland. This raises the question of how the barrier will be drawn around Northern Ireland.

    If there is a customs barrier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, then the border must have barriers and customs posts, or else it will be used by smugglers to subvert the tariff barriers. But customs posts are unacceptable to the EU, the Republic of Ireland, and most people in Northern Ireland.

    On the other hand, a customs barrier between Northern Ireland and Great Britain is unacceptable to the DUP, and therefore to the current UK government.

    In other words, there is no option that is not wholly unacceptable to one party or another in the Brexit negotiations. When the border issue is eventually considered, it is hard to see how it can be solved – unless there is another General Election in the UK and the election of a government that does not depend on DUP support – an outcome that is by no means certain.

    • Replies: @Thoughtdeviant
  4. @James N. Kennett

    There will be a customs border. There was one before and it worked effectively. It’s the only workable solution.

    • Replies: @James N. Kennett
  5. @Thoughtdeviant

    The border posts would be an obvious target for “dissident Republicans”. Who would want to work at a remote border crossing, unless it was heavily fortified and its occupants were armed? Unfortunately this would be the kind of “militarisation” that no one wants to bring back.

  6. It’s worth fighting for sovereignty. Cockburn, being a leftist, doesn’t believe anything is worth killing and dying for. These papists have lost the will to fight. The British state will crush them if they kick off again.

    • Replies: @El Dato
  7. Sadly the Irish have sold their nation to multiculturalism so the next terrorist threat is much more likely to come from Ahmed or Mohammed than Sean or Ian.

    In Ireland as everywhere else, allowing women to vote has had nation destroying consequences.

    • Agree: Hank Rearden
  8. Johann says:

    I too spent time in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and saw a lot of what was going on and yes tribal/religious war is brutal. The irony of the situation was that the British sent the army into Northern Ireland in order to protect the Catholics who were being set upon by Protestant mobs because the Catholics were demonstrating for their civil rights. As the fighting intensified the Catholics under the leadership of the once dormant IRA began to attack the British army. My parents were Catholic emigrants of Northern Ireland so I often stayed with my relatives there and experienced first hand the roadblocks, searches, and even heard the explosions from my uncles house in Belfast. I knew enough of Irish history to realize that this a continuation of the dynastic wars of English succession. The Catholic Stuarts made their last stand in Northern Ireland at the Battle of the Boyne. The English Protestants wanted to insure the safety of William of Orange so they imported the fanatical Protestants of Scotland and gave them the land and farms of the Irish Catholics so was the beginning of the Orangemen, the protectors of English Protestantism. However today in Northern Ireland and more so in the Irish Republic there is very little religious fervor among both Catholics and Protestants. There really wasn’t much during the 1970s the leader of the IRA Gerry Adams isa staunch Marxist fresh from the British university system; he now lives in Dublin and represents Sinn Fein in the Irish parliament. He now leads the gay rights group in Dublin and is pushing for abortion on demand. So the truth is that the difference between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland has nothing to do with religious beliefs. Northern Ireland youth both Catholic and Protestant are now totally Americanized and avoid church as much as possible. I know that my among myNorth Ireland family fewer and fewer attend mass and the Protestants are not doing any better. It is mostly all about money just as it is in the Empire. Politicians in the North could collect salaries from the EU, UK Parliament at the same time. Northern Ireland politicians also are well treated by the Clinton Foundation. Before EU Ireland was poor but the Irish owned their own country now days Ireland is owned by the international banks and the American deep state.

  9. Matra says:

    Brexit makes Northern Ireland more distinctly British, which is why the DUP supports Britain’s departure from the EU, despite the damage to local economy.

    Just to be clear the DUP has opposed British membership of the EU, and before that when it was called the EEC, since long before the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement and for that matter the peace process itself. Part of that is about Britishness but part was also about retaining Ulster’s Christian character. It was the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) – technically not the EU though connected – that judged Britain to be in violation of basic freedoms by allowing Northern Ireland an exception to the legalisation of male homosexuality.

    That was in the 80s. Today it is the province’s refusal to accept abortion and gay marriage that is being targeted by outsiders, including Theresa May, though given her predicament she’s not likely to push too hard. The DUP is in step with its voters – imagine such a thing in a democracy! – in that they believe membership of the EU negatively impacts the ability of local people, who are very socially conservative by Western European standards, to control their own future. The border question has always been separate from that. Well, at least that was the case in the past when the Catholics were as socially conservative as the Protestants. Now that Catholic Ireland seems to be fully embracing social liberalism the border/sectarian dispute could be exacerbated.

  10. @Anonym

    At the moment, the largest figure given for the non-Irish is 18%, and that’s likely grown since then. The non-white percentage is already 8%. Reading this article, I’m reminded of the concept (probably done in movies or books) where the major powers cease conflict and assist each other to repel aliens in the event of an alien invasion. Reagan actually asked Gorbachev if they would do this – they both agreed.

    The above figures you give are for the Republic of Ireland.
    You have hit the nail on the head. Northern Ireland Protestants or Catholics do not want to end up like the Republic is now. So even if the border is reinstated, I see no violent upsurge.
    Socially, the Republic is shot to buggery, and that is without mentioning its half-Indian Taoiseach.

    • Replies: @Anonym
  11. El Dato says:
    @Lemurmaniac

    Wow this is like a phone call from when the UK was an empire on which the Sun never sets and hadn’t yet emptied the countryside to guarantee balance of forces on the continent.

    • Agree: Hibernian
  12. @Johann

    “The English Protestants wanted to insure the safety of William of Orange so they imported the fanatical Protestants of Scotland and gave them the land and farms of the Irish Catholics so was the beginning of the Orangemen, the protectors of English Protestantism.” — Johann

    This sounds like the American Catholic Irish myth that the protestants of Northern Ireland were all “new-comers” — somehow less than Irish — and were involved in the plantations phenomenon. That myth was/is nothing but prejudice that to be truly Irish, you must be RC. In fact, not a one of the plantations was located in the North. They were all in the South. And it’s doubtful that the plantations were mainly settled by “fanatical” Scots.

    Protestants in the North are just as deeply rooted ‘Irish’ as are any of the Irish in the South, although the Irish in the North have always been closer to the Scots than to the southern Irish. That goes back, beyond the Battle of the Boyne or the plantations, to the fact that there have always been two Irelands, at least for humans. How else would you explain that when St. Patrick was posted to Ireland, there was already Palladius sitting near Dublin, in County Meath and known (even in Rome) as ‘Bishop of Ireland’?

    It’s geography, you see. If you go to the eastern coast in Northern Ireland, you can clearly see Scotland. Whereas you don’t see England or Wales from the coastlands of the Irish Sea in the South. Back then, bodies of water were the primary ‘roads’. Thus it would be easy to envision and to make a voyage from Scotland to County Down, but if you wanted to get to, say, Dublin from Liverpool, back in that day when they much preferred sailing within sight of land, you would probably go by way of the Isle of Man. Two very different routes. And, therefore, two very different destinations, historically speaking or thinking.

    As for the Order of Orange, or the Scottish Rite, that is beyond the scope of this comment — except to say that there were (and are) certainly some Presbyterian clergy who abjure(d) both.

    • Replies: @Rich
  13. Mitleser says:
    @Anonym

    I’m reminded of the concept (probably done in movies or books) where the major powers cease conflict and assist each other to repel aliens in the event of an alien invasion. Reagan actually asked Gorbachev if they would do this – they both agreed.

    Gorbachev was a fool, of course. The right answer would be to make any assistance conditional.
    If the aliens are good socialists, why fight them?

  14. The problem with the Northern Ireland question, like the Ireland question before it, is that it is largely being run by the English. Best way foward is for Westminster to cut NI loose and let the Irish on both sides of the border figure it out for themselves.

    • Replies: @Rurik
    , @englishmike
  15. Rurik says:
    @The Alarmist

    Northern Ireland question, like the Ireland question before it, is that it is largely being run by the English.

    with all due respect.. that is bullshit

    England is not even run by the English, or their school girls wouldn’t be beaten, desecrated and raped by Pakistani rape gangs with impunity and protection from the authorities.

    The reason the length and breath of the Western world is being demographically and culturally murdered by their own governments is because Jewish bankers (with a congenital antipathy for the West) are calling the shots in these corrupt Western governments. Duh

    And demanding that they destroy their own nations (al la Tony Blair) and genocide their own people so that ‘Never Again!’ can a Western governmnet raise it’s hand to the International Jewish banking cartels that run the dying (murdered) Western world – as one of those nations did in the last century. Once all Western nations are shitholes of diversity and multiculturalism, then the Jewish domination of the Western world will be immutable, and the fate of Western civilization (including of course Ireland) and it’s people will finally know what it’s like to be a Ukrainian Kulak or a modern Palestinian Arab or a British father trying desperatly to save his 13 year old daughter from a Muslim rape gang, only to be told if he continues with his racism, he’ll be summarily arrested as a hate criminal.

    Most of the British common men and women are just as appalled at the genocide and depravity of their ancient culture as the common men and women of Ireland (and N. America and Europe and Sweden, etc…) are.

    The elites that are destroying the Western world with immigration are serving International Zionism, which means a racially pure Jewish state in Israel, and a demographic shit hole for all the rest of you.

    • Agree: Grandpa Charlie
    • Replies: @Rurik
    , @The Alarmist
  16. Rurik says:
    @Rurik

    BTW, if I had written that simple and obvious truth from a computer in Canada (or half of Europe), there’d no doubt be a knock on the door with uniformed goons standing ready to haul me away for thought crimes.

    And it wouldn’t be because the English people were asserting themselves over my free speach rights, but rather that ubiquitous and nefarious force in the world that demands we all celebrate diveristy (the genocide of our ancient peoples), multiculturalism (the depraving of our ancient culture and heritage) and homosexual radicalism (the solution to those remaining Irish men once the immigrants have fully asserted themselves over your lands).

  17. Rich says:
    @Grandpa Charlie

    I believe you’re incorrect. The Plantation of Ulster is an historical fact. An argument can be made that, genetically, the Northern Irish and Scots were the same people, but to claim that the Irish Catholics in the region weren’t forced off their lands, after backing the Catholic king, is historically inaccurate.

    • Agree: Dan Hayes
    • Replies: @Grandpa Charlie
  18. @Rurik

    Not disagreeing with you … just saying the English should get the hell out of Ireland once and for all.

    If a new wall goes up from the Baltic to the adriatic, it won’t be to keep the East Europeans in, rather to protect themselves from what’s left of Western Europe.

    • Agree: Rurik
    • Replies: @Fredrik
  19. Fredrik says:
    @The Alarmist

    Sure, but if they do then Corbyn will become prime minister.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  20. @Fredrik

    It would be interesting to see if he could do more damage than the current crew. Actually, I suspect gridlock would take hold, much like in Germany.

  21. jack ryan says: • Website
    @Johann

    The idealized view of Ireland presented in John Ford, John Wayne’s “The Quiet Man” – that place no longer exists, same as the idealized all English world of England during the Blitz in World War II “hope and Glory”.

    Both England and Ireland have gone to Hell – Ireland votes for homosexual marriage equality, London has a Pakistani Muslim mayor and Muslim sexual grooming gangs get away with mass rape of poor English girls and I bet more than a few poor Irish girls. I was engaged to a working class Irish English girl outside of Manchester England.

    The cursed, Lib Leftists, hate White people “powers that be” are always trying to peal away the Irish and Irish Americans as another oppressed minority that must fight against (WASP, Anglo) White privilege.

    I noted that the Irish American mayor of Boston was practically the only heterosexual White guy allowed to speak as the Democrat National Convention.

    M’thinks Mel Gibson was to get back in good graces with the Hollywood (Jewish Media Mafia) by going back to producing hate English people movies like Braveheart and the Patriot and as long as he stays sober, M’thinks the Hollywood Media Mafia will let him back in.

    • Replies: @J1234
    , @attilathehen
  22. J1234 says:
    @jack ryan

    As far as the Irish conflict goes, one has to wonder if Unionists and Republicans alike see the disintegration of European culture in the West and say, “Hmm…maybe now isn’t the time to start things back up again.” The Troubles were really about culture as much as anything.

  23. @Rich

    Yes, Rich, you are correct –I had to go back and research more, and it turned out that I had misunderstood a source.

    It seems there was a long history of violent land grab, taking place over centuries — beginning with the Norman invasion in the 12th Century and lasting into the 17th Century with the ‘plantations’ phenomena that extended from the Tudor and into the Stuart dynasty and included even Cromwell’s republic.

    I still think that there’s been two Irelands going all the way back to St. Patrick’s day. The Wikipedia article on Ulster –

    Historically, Ulster lay at the heart of the Gaelic world made up of Gaelic Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. … By the late 14th century … Ulster became the most thoroughly Gaelic and independent of Ireland’s provinces. Its rulers resisted English encroachment but were defeated in the Nine Years’ War (1594–1603). King James I then colonized Ulster with English-speaking Protestant settlers from Britain, in the Plantation of Ulster.– Wikipedia

    So, I suggest that the argument about the Northern Irish and the Scots being genetically the same people can be extended to that they were or are historically the same people.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  24. @jack ryan

    And these problems will be further compounded by Prince Harry’s impending marriage to the negress Markle.

  25. I’ve never really understood this argument that having to have a proper border with customs between Northern Ireland and the Republic is going to re-ignite the Troubles all by itself. It wasn’t the presence of customs that caused the rise of the Provos in the late 60s; it was Catholic protestors being shot at by the people supposedly protecting them. No, this argument just sounds like more Brexiteer-bashing.

    [The SDLP's] condemnation may have been sincere, but that did not mean that they did not benefit politically from the actions of the IRA.

    For a time, maybe. But their total repudiation of the Provos ultimately paved the way for the rise of Sinn Fein, who have now largely displaced the SDLP.

  26. TPTB want to instigate another White fratricide. Foster division among Whites who otherwise might deal with the multi-culti invasion

  27. neutral says:

    Like others have already mentioned here, Ireland (both parts) is rapidly becoming non white. How the author here can ignore this fact is incredible, nobody can seriously argue that the new third world population will care or even be aware of the old conflicts that once happened in that region. I don’t think that people like Patrick Cockburn are ignorant of these facts, they most definitely are and they generally support these things, so the question I have is what the reason for him writing such nonsense, who exactly is his target audience here, is there anyone in the world who reads this kind of stuff who thinks this is still relevant?

  28. neutral says:
    @Thoughtdeviant

    Non Irish are tolerated but that is all, they will never be Irish.

    Excuse me if I tell you straight that this is completely false, check out your head state for a start. Ireland is not at deaths doors, its already dead, it is hard left, hard anti white and demographically (mass non white immigration and miscegenation) it is already like France, Britain, Germany, England – dead.

  29. @The Alarmist

    16. The Alarmist says:

    The problem with the Northern Ireland question, like the Ireland question before it, is that it is largely being run by the English. Best way foward is for Westminster to cut NI loose and let the Irish on both sides of the border figure it out for themselves.

    20. The Alarmist says:

    … just saying the English should get the hell out of Ireland once and for all.

    May I offer an alternative view of Britain’s Ireland question?

    English politicians would have liked to be rid of the problem of Ireland by “getting the hell out” in the early 20th Century; but it was politically impossible.

    1. The province of Ulster, which we came to know as Northern Ireland, was dominated by settlers (largely Scottish protestants) whose Ulster ancestry dated back centuries. They were known as the Loyalists precisely because they identified themselves as loyal British citizens of a British nation under a British monarch. Inevitably, a British government was obliged to represent and defend the Loyalists’ interests.

    In the remainder of the island of Ireland the (mainly Roman Catholic) majority wanted Ulster to be forced into a “united Ireland” in the form of an anti-monarchical Irish Republic. These two Irish political aims were incompatible. The British knew that both sides would resort to violence in order to achieve their ends and that the mayhem would spill over into other parts of the British Isles. The British could therefore give way in the 1920s to the demand for an independent Irish Republic but not to a “United Ireland”, because that would involve trying to force Ulster into a republic which it would fight to resist. (Another powerful reason for Protestant resistance was that Protestant minority status in a majority Catholic state would in their perception be “Rome rule”.)

    It is often overlooked that the “troubles” which caused so much disruption to British life after 1968 happened because a Labour Party government realised that it had to send British troops into Northern Ireland, in order to protect the Catholic population from terrorist attacks from Protestant-aligned groups. Along with this they had to impose a temporary “direct rule” from London. Ironically, this allowed the Catholic-aligned IRA gunmen to exploit the situation with their own “armed struggle” against the British. Not surprisingly they found it useful to present the solution of the Irish problem as one of persuading the British to “get the hell out”. For all I know, the sioux, the mohawks, the apaches, et al probably wished they could apply a similar solution to their problem with colonists.

    2. For the reasons discussed in 1. above, British governments were obliged to depend upon the votes of the Northern Irish in order to elect MPs who would support the government in the British parliament. This benefited the Tory party because most Northern Irish MPs were Loyalist.

    It may be that the “Best way foward is for Westminster to cut NI loose and let the Irish on both sides of the border figure it out for themselves”. Is that politically possible in the current Brexit climate, given that it would surely revive the old confict between supporters and opponents of a republican United Ireland?

  30. You were right. While we were all looking at the Brexit meltdown assisted by Trump, there have been 6 days of Molotov cocktails going off in Londonderry. There is a “New IRA”. They firebombed Gerry Adams’ house tonight.

    No assembly. DUP in power. Irish border in play. 12 July. This makes it impossible for May to shaft the DUP.

    https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/chief-constable-new-ira-behind-londonderry-attacks-37115563.html

  31. @Grandpa Charlie

    Cooley’s Bull, the iron age story is about an Ulster Warrior fighting Gaels further south. That said, the South West was Brythonic speaking when discovered by Pytheas (The Greek who discovered the Pretanic Isles)

  32. Seems the police were saturation policing the Protestant areas of the province to keep the bonfires that follow the Orange Parades under control. Shots and barricades. 74 petrol bombs and 10 explosives a few hours ago.

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Patrick Cockburn Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
"All Hell is Breaking Loose with Muqtada" Warlord: the Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr