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The 'Stupid English' Blindly Drive Northern Ireland Towards Conflict
A return to violence is not a worst-case scenario but an inevitability if a hard border returns, as it will if there is a full Brexit
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I was sitting in a cafe on the Falls Road in heavily nationalist West Belfast when a local radio reporter came in looking for residents to interview about the effect of Brexit on Northern Ireland. She said that the impact was already massive, adding: “Stupid, stupid English for getting us into this pickle. We were doing nicely and then they surpassed themselves [in stupidity].”

It does not take long talking to people in Northern Ireland to understand that almost everything said by politicians and commentators in London about the “backstop” is based on a dangerous degree of ignorance and wishful thinking about the real political situation on the ground here. Given how central this issue is to the future of the UK, it is extraordinary how it is debated with only minimal knowledge of the real forces involved.

The most important of these risks can be swiftly spelled out. Focus is often placed on the sheer difficulty of policing the 310-mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because there are at least 300 major and minor crossing points. But the real problem is not geographic or military but political and demographic because almost all the border runs through country where Catholics greatly outnumber Protestants. The Catholics will not accept, and are in a position to prevent, a hard border unless it is defended permanently by several thousand British troops in fortified positions.

The threat to peace is often seen as coming from dissident Republicans, a small and fragmented band with little support, who might shoot a policeman or a customs’ official. But this is not the greatest danger, or at least not yet, because it is much more likely that spontaneous but sustained protests would prevent any attempt to recreate an international frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic that wasn’t backed by overwhelming armed force.

It is unrealistic to the point of absurdity to imagine that technical means on the border could substitute for customs personnel because cameras and other devices would be immediately destroyed by local people. A new border would have to be manned by customs officials, but these would not go there unless they were protected by police and the police could not operate without British Army protection. Protesters would be killed or injured and we would spiral back into violence.

We are not looking at a worst-case scenario but an inevitability if a hard border returns as it will, if there is a full Brexit. The EU could never agree to a deal – and would be signing its own death warrant if it did – in which the customs union and the single market have a large unguarded hole in their tariff and regulatory walls.

An essential point to grasp is that the British government does not physically control the territory, mostly populated by nationalists, through which the border runs. It could only reassert that control by force which would mean a return to the situation during the Troubles, between 1968 and 1998, when many of the 270 public roads crossing the border were blocked by obstacles or cratered with explosives by the British Army. Even then British soldiers could only move through places like South Armagh using helicopters.

The focus for the security forces in Northern Ireland is on dissident Republican groups that never accepted the Good Friday Agreement. These have failed to gain traction inside the Roman Catholic/nationalist community which has no desire to go back to war and give up the very real advantages that it has drawn from the long peace.

But that peace could slip away without anybody wanting it to go because Brexit, as conceived by the European Research Group and as delineated by Theresa May’s red lines, is a torpedo aimed directly at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement. This meant that those who saw themselves as Irish (essentially the Catholics) and those who saw themselves as British (the Protestants) could live peacefully in the same place. Moreover, the agreement established and institutionalised a complicated balance of power between the two communities in which the Irish government and the EU played a central role.

Yet ever since the general election of 2017, when May became dependent on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), it is the DUP – the party of Ian Paisley – that has been treated by politicians and media in Britain as if they were the sole representatives of the 1.9 million people living in Northern Ireland. Its MPs are seldom asked by interviewers to justify their support for the UK leaving the EU when Northern Ireland voted for Remain in the referendum by 56 per cent to 44 per cent.

In ignoring the nationalist community in Northern Ireland, the British government is committing the same costly mistake it committed in the 50 years before 1968 which led to the fiercest guerrilla conflict in western Europe since the Second World War. The nationalist community today has a lot more to lose than it did half a century ago. It is no longer subject to sectarian discrimination in the way it used to be, as well as being highly educated and economically dynamic, but this does not mean that it can be taken for granted.

It may also be that the majority of the Northern Ireland population in two years’ time, when the Brexit transition period might be coming to an end, will no longer be Protestant and unionist but Catholic and nationalist. In the last census in 2011 Protestants were 48 per cent of the population and Catholics 45 per cent. The Protestants are not only a declining proportion of the population, but an increasingly ageing one, figures from 2016 showing that Catholics are 44 per cent of the working population and Protestants 44 per cent. Significantly, Catholics make up 51 per cent of school children in Northern Ireland and Protestants only 37 per cent.

ORDER IT NOW

The Protestants are a community on the retreat, but many have argued that this does not make much political difference because it is a mistake to imagine that all Catholics wanted a united Ireland. Many felt that they were better off where they were with a free NHS and an annual UK subsidy of £11bn.

But Brexit has changed this calculation. With Ireland and the UK members of the EU, religious and national loyalties were blurred. Many Protestants, particularly middle class ones, voted Remain in the referendum, but the vote was still essentially along sectarian lines. “You would not find many nationalists post-Brexit who would not vote for a united Ireland in a new border poll whatever they thought before,” said one commentator, though the likelihood is that if there were to be such a poll there would still be a slim majority favouring the union with Great Britain.

If May’s deal with the EU is finally agreed by the House of Commons then the issue of a hard border will be postponed. Any return to it would put Northern Ireland back on the road to crisis and violence. Stupid, stupid, stupid English.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Brexit, Britain, Northern Ireland 
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  1. dvorak says:

    If May’s deal with the EU is finally agreed by the House of Commons then the issue of a hard border will be postponed. Any return to it would put Northern Ireland back on the road to crisis and violence. Stupid, stupid, stupid English.

    One result of neolib hegemony is that neolibs are ignorant of basic historical facts. In other words, they believe the narrative of their colleagues

    So, this author believes that peace in Northern Ireland came from peace negotiations. In reality, British Intelligence completely infiltrated the IRA and thereby destroyed it. After it was destroyed, peace reigned.

    These facts were reported in the mainstream, highbrow The Atlantic 13 years ago. But the Narrative prefers a bullshit story about progressives on both sides of the conflict achieving peace via love.
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/03/from-belfast-with-love/304742/

    This leaves Cockburn ignorant of something he is supposed to be expert in. He’s like an American journalist who thinks Lee Harvey Oswald was a Republican not a Communist, because he came from Dallas.

    • Replies: @tyrell
    , @nik1975
    , @anon
  2. will no longer be Protestant and unionist but Catholic and nationalist

    …and, in time, no longer Catholic. The Irish Savant wrote recently about how the African and Muslim enrichment of Ireland has reached even places like Kenmare and Cobh, adding: ‘our Indian Hindu homosexual Prime Minister assured his subjects that he’d welcome home Irish citizens even if they were ISIS fighters’.

  3. tyrell says:
    @dvorak

    Just curious here, but if the intelligence services completly infiltrated the ira why did they allow the natwest bombing? 800 million pounds worth of damage. How could mi5 prevent continued ira operations from bases in the republic?

  4. The simple solution is for the British elite to end its baffling two century long appeasement of popery.

    Why on Earth should papist swine who worship the globohomo spic faggot bishop Bergoglio be permitted any say at all?

    Rescind Catholic emancipation, confiscate all property from papists, and drive those who refuse to convert into the Republic of Ireland.

    Problem solved.

    • LOL: Dan Hayes
  5. EoinW says:

    Northern Ireland has been a Jim Crow society most of its history. All wealth was controlled by Protestants and Catholics had to make do with the crumbs which fell off the Unionist table. My mother worked in the civil service in the early 1960s. All government workers were Protestants. That’s because the Protestant community got all the jobs.

    The biggest change since the Good Friday Agreement hasn’t been political – which is window dressing – it’s been economic. The 20 year ceasefire has been accompanied by a 20 year debt bubble and easy money boom. When you create wealth out of thin air there’s enough left over even for Catholics. The economic hardships ease and the two communities can live in peace.

    The ceasefire was never going to outlast the global economy. And the global economy is coming to an end. Brexit is one example of its demise. Economic hardships shall return and Ulstermen(like other human beings) will blame others for their fall in living standard. Attitudes in the two communities have not changed. King Billy won the Battle of the Boyne therefore Protestants get to run Northern Ireland forever. Or, at least, control all of the wealth in the province. This attitude simply will not go away until all Protestant/Unionists either leave or resign themselves to being Irish.

    The Troubles shall return. I wouldn’t blame that on the stupid English. I’d blame it on the imperialist British Empire of the past.

  6. Tony says:

    The English are a lot smarter than the stubby drunken irish, thats for damn sure.

  7. The border was porous before the UK and Ireland joined the EEC, and not just with Northern Ireland. Many Irish took ferries over to “the Big Island” to receive medical treatment. It was one of the problems in the early days of the troubles. The IRA had offices in Dublin, and sent its Army over the border to wreak havoc. That is not to say that there weren’t locals more than willing to join. There were a number of bombings in England. Even Sinead O’Connor protested against them.
    The religious component is overplayed. While at university in Scandinavia in the early 70s, I met a number of Irish people, one of whom I remain friends. A Catholic couple from the Republic couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be part of a country which, at the time, was for all intents and purposes, run by the Vatican. A Northern Protestant was for re-unification, but explained that the IRA’s united Ireland would look like Cuba, and therefore he opposed the IRA. A Northern Catholic wouldn’t speak to any of the above, because: a) one was a Protestant; and b) they got along very well.

    The problem is that the EU has usurped Ireland’s autonomy, thereby preventing an agreement between the parties. If anyone in the UK had half a brain, they would be hammering on that by saying ‘We are leaving because the EU has usurped the sovereignty of all of us. This is an issue for Ireland and ourselves to solve.’

    • Replies: @TheJester
  8. @EoinW

    Some of your “Protestants” are Church of Ireland, and have roots in Ireland going back a thousand years.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
    , @EoinW
  9. Hibernian says:
    @Curmudgeon

    Some of the Protestants in the Republic are descendants of Catholics who became Protestant to keep their landholdings. They are distinct from the “Home rule is Rome rule” Protestants of the North.

    • Replies: @Dan Hayes
  10. EoinW says:
    @Curmudgeon

    I suppose I should have used Unionist/Loyalist, rather than Protestant. However religion does matter.

    I can remember my relatives talking back in the 1980s about Ireland being run by the Vatican. Then they traded the Pope for the EU. Has a united Ireland ever been truly independent? it’s too bad you couldn’t have a loose confederacy with 32 sovereign counties and open borders. The current set up in the Republic has parasitic Dublin leeching off the other 25 counties. Why would the northern 6 counties want to be a part of that? Then again, how much has London been bleeding the entire UK?

    I suspect you’ll see an independent Northern Ireland before you see reunification. Independent but with the border still open. That might be the next logical step towards reunification. The process does seem to be to gradually unite the island – but never suggest that’s the objective or the Unionists will scream bloody murder. Personally I’d be fine with an independent NI so long as the two tribes learned to live together in peace. Not easy, after centuries of distrust.

    • Replies: @Hail
  11. Sean says:

    Given how central this issue is to the future of the UK, it is extraordinary how it is debated with only minimal knowledge of the real forces involved.

    The Protestant middle classes are leaving ‘Ulster’, it’s been that way for a long while, and Nothern Ireland in going downhill economically as a result. The essential point is that the UK has left the EU customs union and so there will have to be customs posts on the land border with Eire. For a century there has been a very concrete and real border with the Irish Republic. People from that foreign country could and will still be able to go to any part of the UK enter without any special permission and get welfare benefits and even vote, which was more that Poles and other EU people were allowed to do.

    The demographic balance is changing, but Brexit changes nothing, because I don’t think anyone has ever thought that once Catholics were a majority that Northern Ireland was going to remain in the UK. Violence will not speed that inevitable takeover by the cradle up, so why would any new IRA be allowed to possibly complicate it? The old IRA is still around and would not stand for it being replaced. And the government of the South would not be happy either. It is possible that an new IRA forms and draws new recruits and defector so that the PIRA has to go along with them.

    However, the situation lacks many factors that helped the IRA in 1968, when demonstrations were the grievance of a separate Ulster government presiding over semi-official discriminatory practices, and a quasi military Protestant police hated by Catholics. None of that exists now when the average person is significantly older, fatter, and more satisfied. There it going to be discontent but no protest marches about having to do the hard manual labour on NI farms that the EU migrants were doing before.

    The threat to peace is often seen as coming from dissident Republicans, a small and fragmented band with little support, who might shoot a policeman or a customs’ official. But this is not the greatest danger, or at least not yet, because it is much more likely that spontaneous but sustained protests would prevent any attempt to recreate an international frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic that wasn’t backed by overwhelming armed force.

    Recreate? I was not aware that there had ever ceased to be an international frontier between the UK and the Irish Republic, which are and have always regarded themselves as separate countries. Civil Rights marches in 1968 were not about the border as far as I am aware. It did provide a good living for smugglers (often those with farms on it) though.

    Furthermore, there is not the youth bulge that there was in 1968; lot of young men plus tension between two demarcated groups what really made Northern Ireland a tinderbox. Another important point is in 1968 various middle class students had silly Trotskyite ideas, and many of the lower intellects thought they or those who they were opposing could get a quick decisive result by demonstrations and armed violence . However after decades of the Troubles it was obvious that Catholic politicians such as John Hume who were associated with the Civil Rights marches had lost support in the Catholic community to the IRA figure Gerry Adams while creating murderous anti Catholic Loyalist gangs, alienating the mass of Protestants from establishment unionism into Ian Paisley’s arms, and achieving nothing to get the British out. Eventually their membership all just wanted out of prison and to get paid off with community or local government jobs.

    In 1968 there was no understanding by Hume ect that armed violence might be started up again because there were people who wanted an excuse to do that. If there were mass demonstrations about the Border in Catholic regions such as Armagh ect no one could be under any illusion what the organizers were trying to get started, or that it could achieve anything beyond another interminable Troubles in which current politicians would be diminished.

    If the near future and demographics are on the Catholic/Irish nationalist’s side then starting anything will not be in the interest of the South. The government of the South could and would halt any resurgence of the IRA. A 2005 book by Thomas Hennessy called The Origin Of the Troubles made clear just how much of a hand the Southern Government, Irish Army military intelligence and major figures in the politics of the South like Charles Haughey had in getting the IRA off the ground, and that was with a long gone excess of young men (rather like in Afghanistan and Syrian now) traditional politics and Catholic faith. Ireland is full of EU immigrants keeping wages down for Irish workers and they have a gay half Indian PM who is popular in what is now an affluent hedonistic country. Does not sound to me like a tightly knit Catholic country of Republican sentiment.

    The Irish Republic benefited from being a poor rural part of a West European EU, but now the EU is calling time of Eire’s free-riding tax scams with Google ect and demanding Eire contribute to helping countries like Poland and Romania, hence Ireland is now begining to be a large net contributor to the EU, and that is going to increase year on year. Blame any of that on Britain? yes they probably will, but so what?

    When the North wants to leave the UK—let them go! Until then there needs to be a proper customs enforcement and if the posts are attacked; yes, the Army will have to put up its big observation towers in South Armagh and fly around in helicopters again. The infrastructure will provide demolition jobs in a decade or so when Britain pulls out according to the will of the Catholic majority Cockburn (he is not alone) sees as inevitable.

    • Agree: Tyrion 2
    • Replies: @Johann
  12. anonymous[191] • Disclaimer says:

    If Britain ever gets out of the EU, it should give Northern Ireland its independence. Northern Ireland would then feel free to stay independent or join Eire.

  13. nik1975 says:

    yes stupid stupid English… Thanks for that piece of objective racism

  14. nik1975 says:
    @dvorak

    you will find that Cockburn is dishonest and not ignorant

  15. TheJester says:
    @Curmudgeon

    I find it ironic how the Irish, in a historic turn of events, have turn the tables on their historical oppressors … the British. Ireland has veto power over Great Britain on the so-called “soft ” border option between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland that must be solved as a sine qua non for Britain leaving the EU. Until this is solved, Britain will be “part in” and “part out” of the EU, making a joke of BREXIT. My sense is that the only solution to the “soft” border issue is for Northern Ireland to be absorbed into the Irish Republic. In many ways, this has already happened.

    We vacationed for two weeks in southwest Ireland last year. It was a curated tour, offering lots of contact with local Irish away from tourist haunts. Our bus driver was from Northern Ireland.

    The Irish we met were not hesitant to talk politics. The “troubles” and a desire to avoid another round of violence is paramount. Ireland today is one country, albeit through the auspices of the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland both being members of the EU rather than as a single national entity. The Irish flag is itself a “peace offering” to the North … Green for the Irish Republic, Orange for Northern Ireland, and White (for peace) in the middle.

    [MORE]

    The Irish we talked to pressed two key issues … one positive and the other negative. The positive one was the enormous amount of financial subsidies provided by the EU and how that was fundamentally changing Ireland by linking it inexorably to the Continent. The Irish look at both the EU and the United States as its protectors from the British. Wherever you go in the Irish Republic, you see three flags flying. On one side is the United States flag; on the other side is the EU flag; in the center is the Irish flag. We did not see one Union Jack in our two weeks in the country.

    Aside: The bureaucrats in Brussels tend to do this: bribe a country into EU membership, wait a while, and then drive it into receivership … Germany, of course, excepted. As Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain found out, by design all Euros eventually find their way to Germany.

    The negative issue was the fear that US high-tech IT firms (i.e. Apple) would abandon Ireland due to US government pressure to bring industry home. The locals predicted an economic depression if that occurred. They begged us to use whatever political influence we might have in the States to ensure that did not occur.

    We were in Ireland in the buildup to the vote on abortion (it passed). My sense is that the vote was political. The vote was a declaration that the Irish Republic was now a secular state not unlike other Western countries. The Republic also has an openly gay Prime Minister … the son of Indian immigrants. The message is that Northern Ireland has nothing to fear by being incorporated into the Irish Republic. Ireland is no longer a “Catholic” country where priests, bishops, and cardinals (that is, religion) hold sway. It is a liberal, tolerant, secular, democracy that Protestants in Northern Ireland need not fear.

    As mentioned in the article, the demographics in the North also point to the inevitability of Northern Ireland being absorbed by the Irish Republic. Northern Ireland will be majority “Catholic” within a few decades. They will share the same ethnic heritage (and religion) as their brothers and sisters to the south. This will break the ethnic and religious links that have historically connected Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

    In short, Britain’s attempt at BRITEX will flounder unless it cuts Northern Ireland loose, given that Ireland holds the winning hand over the “soft” border option. Once loose, Northern Ireland’s absorption into the Irish Republic, already an economic fact, will become a political reality.

    • Replies: @John Gruskos
    , @Sean
    , @Matra
  16. Anonymous [AKA "Fleecemon"] says:

    Brexit is a sinkhole. A narrow referendum decided on emotions as opposed to educated and learned constructs. Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain and once the shite hits the fan and prosperity declines, they will experience a growth in their own Brexit movements. The border question has been with the UK for centuries and will remain a burr in the bulldog’s butt until N.I. is granted independence. A united Ireland is inevitable, the choice is sooner or later. Brexit is a quagmire of the UK’s own design, with a good natured nudge from Uncle Vlad. A second referendum as the only face saving measure for the politicians although with the cards laid out on the table for everyone to see, they may not like the result. Once the results are in everyone can exhale and rest easy. For a few years at least.

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    , @nik1975
  17. @Anonymous

    There’s nothing “inevitable” about a united Ireland. The British ruling class’s contemptible cowardice is the only reason an independent Ireland exists. Its independence could be terminated in twelve hours if men were in charge of Whitehall and eradicated the disgusting Shamrock Entity from the map.

    Likewise the idea of an independent Scotland is preposterous. The appropriate solution is to march the British Army into Scotland and hang every member of the SNP from lamp posts, just as was done after Culloden.

    • Replies: @nik1975
    , @Emmet
  18. @TheJester

    An island forcibly united by threat of IRA terrorism would be a monstrosity.

    Separate people’s deserve separate nations. As a distinct and unique people, the Ulster Protestants deserve a country of their own.

    We were in Ireland in the buildup to the vote on abortion (it passed). My sense is that the vote was political. The vote was a declaration that the Irish Republic was now a secular state not unlike other Western countries. The Republic also has an openly gay Prime Minister … the son of Indian immigrants. The message is that Northern Ireland has nothing to fear by being incorporated into the Irish Republic. Ireland is no longer a “Catholic” country where priests, bishops, and cardinals (that is, religion) hold sway. It is a liberal, tolerant, secular, democracy that Protestants in Northern Ireland need not fear.

    How sad!

    In pursuit of their ambitions for territorial expansion and the subjugation of Ulster, the Irish have sold their souls, abandoned Christianity, embraced abortion and sodomy, and are in the process of giving away the 26 counties of their own homeland to 3rd world immigrants.

    Why would Ulster Protestants want to unite with that? It sounds much worse that any Catholic theocracy. (Not that the UK is any better).

    The Irish look at both the EU and the United States as its protectors from the British.

    If, in response to Brexit, the IRA resumes its terrorism campaign, why should Americans side with IRA terrorists?

    Ever since 9/11, patriotic Americans have a visceral antipathy towards terrorism and terrorists.

    And every American nationalist who knows the history of his own nation knows the importance of the Scotch-Irish (aka Ulster Protestants) in the ethno-genesis of the American people.

    Why should Americans side with terrorists who target the Ulster Protestants and the English, the two peoples in the whole world who are most closely related to Americans?

    • Replies: @TheJester
  19. nik1975 says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    how intellegent, I can see why you are nowhere near any levers of power

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  20. nik1975 says:
    @Anonymous

    I thought that we already had a referendum on this issue

    and I thought that the results were in

    funny how remainers like to think about overturning a legitimate vote

    • Agree: YetAnotherAnon
  21. Emmet says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Thorfinnsson, did you miss your medication this morning?

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  22. @nik1975

    As opposed to the intelligence of the British ruling class which failed to stamp out popery, permitted the establishment of an independent Ireland, lost the Empire, and now permit their homeland to be invaded by sundry aliens?

  23. @Emmet

    I had my double espresso as usual.

  24. @EoinW

    But … Ireland (the Republic) is a very pozzed place these days. It’s not the place Edna O’Brien ran away from 60 years ago. Will Caithleen Ni Houlihan, the Four Green Fields, Our Lady Queen Of Ireland and the rattle of the Thompson gun still have an appeal for young Irish people, and will America still be a safe haven and funding source as it was in the days before 9/11 ?

    The surveillance society is WAY advanced in the last 15 years, too. On the other hand there are a lot more people in Ireland from places in Eastern Europe where guns are easy to come by, and as we see in Dublin they seem to be getting through (not that I believe the IRA ever decommissioned their most modern arms).

    If we leave a soft border, and the EU don’t like it, the Irish Republic can police it.

  25. TheJester says:
    @John Gruskos

    Excellent points … thank you.

    I’m Scotch-Irish: red hair, green eyes, freckles … the works. 23&Me relates that I’m exclusively from the British Isles without a trace of sub-Saharan African genes (so much for the vulgar version of “Out of Africa”). As a source of noxious pride, I also have more Neanderthal genes than 95% of other 23&Me clients. Our son and genealogy expert traces one side of the family to Scotland and the other to Ireland. We became Scotch-Irish in the United States.

    Our Irish family name is Ross. On our tour, we ran across “Ross Castle” and “Ross Lake”. I thought I had perhaps discovered some of our roots, albeit our “Ross’ lineage” definitely did not have aristocratic origins. They arrived in a small town on the Kansas prairie circa 1870 in a covered wagon full of kids … origins unknown.

    In any case, I read the obdurate body language of the locals in Ireland when I voiced that my family name was “Ross”. It turns out that the local Rosses were Scottish aristocrats brought in at some time in the ancient past to help rule the Irish. The locals never forgot.

    How sad! It seems that Ireland has been a tragedy that never ends. The time for reconciliation is long overdue. Although I also disagree with their “Sodom and Gomorrah” gambit to prove their liberal credentials, let’s give the Irish credit for trying to finally bring this to an end at the cost of previously unimaginable compromises with their history and traditions.

  26. Johann says:
    @Sean

    The gorilla in the room is that Ireland is very far from being a “Catholic” country . In a recent article in Chronicles it states that the Republic of Ireland is now a majority liberal anti Catholic country. The corruption of the Catholic Church is compete. The closing of Maynooth seminary because scandalous homosexuality and the outrageous behaviour of Irish cardinals and clergy has put the nail in the coffin of Irish Catholicism. In some ways Irish Protestants are going through similar experiences. Ireland is destined to become a secular atheistic nation with a powerful Islamic minority. Irish culture is rapidly becoming totally Americanized by embracing American tv , music, celebrity stars, and cuisine . “ Romantic Ireland is dead and gone , it is with O’Leary in the grave”.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
    , @Sean
  27. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Johann

    As a traditionalist of sorts I like to defend things like the Irsh Catholic Church. Irish people though will have none of it. They all seem to know of people who were abused. It seems the clergy destroyed themselves with the worst of sins.

    • Disagree: YetAnotherAnon
    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  28. Sean says:
    @Johann

    Thre is an Irish psychologist who says the the Irish lost interest in and respect for religion as they got affluent. I know a few people who grew up in Ireland and when there that went back were been horrified at how crass and materialistic the Irish had got in just a couple of decades. I also saw an Irish journalist being interviewed and she disputed the idea that the Church’s place in Irish had declined due to pervert clergy, she said Curchgoing had been in very sharp decline long before all these scandals.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-human-beast/201207/why-the-irish-have-turned-against-religion

    Ireland no longer fits the mould of an agricultural society where religion is universal. Instead, due to a vastly improved standard of living, she has been changed –utterly – into one of the godless countries of Europe

    Poor people, and the Irish republic was very poor indeed not so long ago, live in tight knit communities are close to their family and church and are also nationalistic. They might need help from those institutions (a friend in need and all that). Obviously the rich person needs less help from others, and cares less about having a reputation as a contributing member. As my father says, a friend in need is a pest.

    • Replies: @for-the-record
    , @Sean
  29. Sean says:
    @TheJester

    It was always naive to think that France and Germany were not going to bleed the UK for Brexit and to discourage others such as Sweden from doing the same.

    Ireland once to pauper of the EU and got massive subsidies. More recently they gamed the system and collected no tax from Google ect to get those countries to be based their. The EU is puttting an end to the freloading of Ireland, which will be a net contributor to the EU from now on, and it is is going to be forced to start paying for EU funding of dirt poor new members like Romania ect .

    For over 150 years Britain has been trying to get rid of Ireland. As Paul Johnson noted, the big estates in Ireland were actually a net drain on Britain by the latter part of the 19th century. The North still is.

  30. “...almost all the border runs through country where Catholics greatly outnumber Protestants.”

    Perhaps by local consent they could redraw the border, including the addition of a few enclaves, so that the remaining entity, though smaller, would have a substantial Loyalist majority for the next few generations. Building a long bridge to connect with Scotland wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @James N. Kennett
  31. Sean says:
    @Been_there_done_that

    Respectable Ulster Protestants would object to the word” Loyalist”, because that term is used for a criminal minority of paramilitaries/ half baked gangsters such as the UVF. Unionist is the proper term for those (almost entirely Protestant) in Northern Ireland who want to stay part of the UK.

    The (almost entirely Catholic) supporters of the IRA and its political wing were termed Republicans. An all Ireland state by non violent means was the aim the almost entirely Catholic party the SDLP, which is termed “Nationalist “.

    The aforementioned parties are working class. There is also Alliance, a middle class party that is mixed in membership and is neither neither Nationalist or Unionist, but although it has been looked on favorably by the Northern Ireland Office (UK civil servants distrusted by Unionists) Alliance has never done much electorally.

  32. Hail says: • Website
    @EoinW

    they traded the Pope for the EU

    Interesting angle.

    ‘Nationalist’ vs. ‘Universalist,’ down thru the ages. Specifics updated from time to time as demanded by circumstance.

  33. @Been_there_done_that

    Perhaps by local consent they could redraw the border, including the addition of a few enclaves, so that the remaining entity, though smaller, would have a substantial Loyalist majority for the next few generations.

    The local consent will not be forthcoming. The Good Friday Agreement states that Northern Ireland will be transferred in its entirety to the Republic, if its people should vote for it. This transfer is inevitable at some point in the present century.

  34. I was sitting in a cafe on the Falls Road in heavily nationalist West Belfast when a local radio reporter came in looking for residents to interview about the effect of Brexit on Northern Ireland.

    There were probably more journalists in the cafe than actual residents.

  35. I know of two individuals who have already built tunnels in anticipation of a border closure/inspection point, with the express purpose of smuggling items in both directions. They actually commissioned their construction following the 2016 Referendum. In addition, with the Trump election, the likelihood that Brexit would not only survive but even be considered for a hard separation, made one of the individuals decide to triple the capacity of the tunnel, particularly with the anticipation of favorable UK/USA trade that would shun Ireland/EU trade. They will benefit highly with a hard Brexit, as ultimately the borders will have to be fortified to prevent such movement.

  36. It is possible that Brexit will be abandoned, because leaving the EU, either with or without a deal, does not command a majority in the House of Commons.

    However, if Brexit proceeds, the likely outcome is one that no politician involved in the negotiations dares to mention in public.

    The UK will remain in the Customs Union until its government does not depend on the DUP for parliamentary support. After that, Northern Ireland will remain in the Customs Union, and Great Britain will leave. The customs barrier between Great Britain and Ireland (and the rest of the Customs Union) will be at the ports and airports. The UK will be “one country, two systems”.

    Because this cannot be openly planned, the proposed deal for Brexit includes the “Irish backstop” – the entire UK must remain in the Customs Union until the EU alone is satisfied that any alternative plan makes suitable arrangements for the Irish border. This painfully turns the UK into an EU dependency.

  37. Maybe, just maybe it is time for the English to spin NI off as its own nation and let the Irish work it out amongst themselves.

    Actually, my suggestion has since 2014 been for the Westminster Parliament to repeal the various Acts of Union, run the Cross of St. George up the pole, and do an EXIT, leaving an empty husk of the rest of the UK in the EU.

  38. Kali says:

    Yet more Brexit fear porn being touted by the establishment media of the UK!

    Word on the street is that the majority of British (English) electorate voted to leave the EU whilst it is still (politically) possible to do so. (See The Lisbon Treaty to know that come 2020 full EU lockdown for ‘member states’ becomes a political ‘reality’.)

    That the EU insists on hard boarders outside if the Union demonstrates its facsistic nature and its intention to become an overarching Superstate dictated by the wholy unelected European Comission, whilst the elected European Parliament continues in its inferior possition, to provide an illusion of democracy to the gullable liberalised population of said Superstate.

    In the meantime, every member state whose electorate has ever voted to exit the Union, has been forced back to the poles to re-do the ‘democratic’ will if the people. This inclues the Irish Republic… twice! And now that the republic is fixed into the Union, the cost of membership is coming due. Go figure!

    Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the Union, and separately there is a massive groundswell amongst the people of Scottland to terminate the ‘union’ with England. Prefering to be dictated to by a none-democratic EU than a none-democratic Westminster.

    So let them go – NI and Scotland – let them form a union of their own within the Supperstate EU.

    That will in turn free the people of Gale to deal with the Westminster kabal which has shat all over the British isles and beyond for centuries.

    The people of England want out of the EU because the people of England, despite the lies and bullshit propogated by the establishment media in favor of remaining, know fascism when it’s staring them in the face.

    But this will not be permitted to happen. Either the ‘remainer’ May will concoct a ‘deal’ which effectively keeps us in, or the ‘remainer’ Corbyn will call for a second refferendum despite the will of the electorate. And that’s when the shit really hits the fan on the island.

    Just like the Hotel California, you can check out any time you like but you can never leave.

    The future’s bright, the future’s global corporatism and fuck the people where ever they may be.

    Unless, of couse, the people, where ever they may be, learn the true meaning of independance and freedom, return to the land, grow non-toxic(!) food, generate energy for themselves, trade, exchange and give freely (now there’s radical!) as they see
    fit.

    The ‘nation state’ is a failed experiment. The Superstate can and will only bring violent repression under the guise of ‘environmental protection’ and neoliberal hegmony.
    There is an alternative (vaguely outlaned above) but it involves people of intelligence stepping out of their comfort zones and getting their hands dirty – litterally and figuratively.

    Love, peace and freedom to all who love peace and freedom!
    Kali.

  39. @Sean

    she said Curchgoing had been in very sharp decline long before all these scandals

    Here is a time series for percentages for weekly church attendance among Irish Catholics:

    1973 — 91%
    1981 — 87%
    1988/89 — 88%
    2006 — 56%
    2007/8 — 44%
    2010 — 45%

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_Republic_of_Ireland

  40. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Tyrion 2

    What do you disagree with? I have been assured this many times. How am I supposed to reply?

  41. As usual, the comments are a lot more stimulating than the main article.

  42. Sean says:
    @Sean

    Increase after 2008 financial collapse. Affluence is as acid to nation and faith.

  43. Matra says:
    @TheJester

    Northern Ireland’s absorption into the Irish Republic, already an economic fact

    You make some good points, but this isn’t one of them.

  44. fnn says:

    The Irish Republic is post-Catholic and secular hedonist, but the subtle racial differences between the two major tribes may be part of the reason for the continued polarization in the North:
    https://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/pathetic-that-this-even-has-to-be-pointed-out/#comment-13493

    … the Scots formed from the assimilation of various ethno-linguistic groups in various proportions, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Norse, Brythonic, Goidelic, Pict, Flemish, etc.; the highlander-lowlander distinction reflects this to some extent, and those Scots who were brought into Ulster were largely selected from among the non-Gaels, for this very sort of reason… The fact that dialects have converged doesn’t make the two communities formerly one that just happened to separate from religious pressures. Naturally, too, many marker expressions carried over from earlier speech even once it had changed on a larger scale.

    Can the northern irish tell a prod from a taig by appearance?

    Actually, to a surprisingly large extent though not infallibly, yes (and not just the northern Irish, though no doubt their sensitivity is heightened), especially if you count mannerisms and expressions (it doesn’t have to be as extreme as “Och, Donald, whaur’s your troosers?”) – some behaviours may perhaps come easier because of underlying physical structure, too. Physically, skull shape and the contrast between skin and hair colours are strong if not certain indicators. Even I, of mixed Scottish and Irish ancestry and some generations removed, have done it and received it on occasion.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  45. anon[393] • Disclaimer says:
    @dvorak

    HMM way i remember it it was us that had mil intelligence bugged in a very early catfish type countintel

  46. anon[393] • Disclaimer says:

    so the brits could just pull the border back to where they actually can hold the ground and sign the ground they dont hold over to ireland since its theres anyway
    barring that they could just get the fuck out of ireland problem solved

  47. Lurker says:

    It does not take long talking to people in Northern Ireland to understand that almost everything said by politicians and commentators in London

    It’s a shame they don’t realise that the politicians and commentators in London are the ones doing all the talking, the actual English barely get a look in.

  48. Steve Hayes says: • Website

    Nice piece of liberal journalism: name calling, some facts, some omissions, plenty of misrepresentation and all to forward a risible narrative. The government of the United Kingdom has repeatedly asserted that it will not create a “hard border” and the government of the Republic of Ireland has also repeatedly asserted it will not; indeed, in its latest planning for a so called no deal, there is no planning for such border activity.

  49. Dan Hayes says:
    @Hibernian

    Hibernian:

    Church of Ireland Protestants in the Irish Republic have a well-earned reputation for honesty. The less said about Northern Ireland Presbyterians the better!

  50. Hibernian says:
    @fnn

    Green Irish and Orange Irish people here in the US anyway tend to have the same Nordic appearance. I think these people’s Irishdar is based on speech patterns, (No, they don’t have to be comic opera type to be distinguishable.) and the business about skull shapes, etc., is a tall tale.

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