November 3, 1999

A Peace of Paper


In Britain today there is a handover in place. Not that of the whole country to the European Union, although that is going on; but the handover of a decent, law abiding, majority to a corrupt, hate-filled, fascist-influenced terrorist group. And before any American readers feel self satisfied that this is not their country, it is at the request, indeed the orders, of your political ruling class. The people of Ulster are about to be betrayed to terrorism.


One of the few things that coverage of Northern Ireland never seems to generate is facts. Northern Ireland often is seen in the American media as an English Imperialist venture, aimed at keeping a privileged and bigoted minority in power over a resentful majority, united around the leadership of the IRA. This is a shocking and fearful calumny on the truth. Let's look at the arguments one by one.


The idea that this is a part of any empire, in the way that this is usually understood, as a territory under the rule of a country which allows no say in how the mother country is ruled is false. Since the Act of Union in 1801 the Irish have sent representatives to the British Parliament: Ireland and later Ulster were a full part of the United Kingdom in a way the thirteen Colonies (and indeed Canada) never were. If the British (or English as they are often misleadingly portrayed) ever aimed at keeping the Unionists in power it was not because they wanted to. In Ulster they were forced to give power to the Unionists, they wanted to bundle up the whole of Ireland and send it into "Home Rule". The Ulstermen formed militias and forced them to think anew. The idea that these Ulstermen make a minority of the population in Northern Ireland is another sadly false rumour. Protestants make up 60% of the population and their representatives the Unionists get 70% of the vote, with about a third of Catholics voting for Unionists parties. And as far as the IRA commanding some sort of respect from "their" community goes, this is also simply not true. Their political front Sinn Fein commands less than a third of the Catholic vote, and a little over ten percent of the whole vote, and they are frequently condemned by the Catholic church.

Emmanuel Goldstein is the pseudonym of a political drifter on the fringes of English classical liberal and Euro-sceptic activity. He is a former member of the Labour Party, who knows Blair and some of his closest buddies better than they realise, yet. He has a challenging job in the real world, working for a profit-making private company and not sponging off the taxpayer in politics, journalism or the civil service. "Airstrip One," now appears Wednesdays at

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But why can’t the Protestants seek some sort of compromise? Why can’t they go into a United Ireland that will recognise their diversity? Because their relatives did it before and they have no wish to repeat that mistake. When Southern Ireland gained Home Rule in 1923 Protestants and Jews made up 18% of her population – now they make up less than 4%. This ethnic cleansing was accomplished in many ways. The official recognition of the Catholic Church as the only religion of the state meant that Protestants often found the state system schooling their children as Catholics (this happened as recently as ten years ago to a Jewish friend in Dublin). Ostracism against those who were different was popular in the small rural communities that made up most of Ireland – the very word "boycott" arose from the successful ostracism of a Protestant by his Irish Catholic neighbours. The state control of the corporatist Irish economy meant that many Protestants who did not own land or businesses could only make a living abroad. Protestant organisations, even Boys Brigades, were harassed and banned. The very idea that you could be Irish and not Catholic was thought laughable. The economic performance of Ireland turned a respectably poor province into a pauper, although recently the EU has subsidised an Irish resurgence so much that it is now overheating (for every Irish pound paid in they get seven back, for every British pound they get fifty pence). All of this under a leader, Eamon de Valera, who ordered the Irish tricolour to be flown at half-mast when his hero Hitler died. Protestant Irishmen can now only be found in the Republic in the big cities, the mansions of the country gentry, close to the border with Northern Ireland or in a few huddled and isolated communities on the coast. In some Catholic majority areas in Northern Ireland the same is happening with the connivance of the Authorities. The people of Ulster watched and saw their worst fears confirmed, on their own friends and relatives.


The idea that this prejudice is in the past should be dispelled at once. You may see the Orange Order, and see their parades on television with their bowler hats, white gloves, orange sashes, flutes, drums, accordions and banners to a four centuries dead homosexual Dutch king. And you will often see the other traditional accompaniment, the screaming, bigoted, terrorist-directed "Residents Groups" who are determined that no Protestant should ever go past their door to church. What you will not be told is that this quaint Orange Order is a church-based movement that is one of the mainstays of the charitable sector in Northern Ireland. Sectarian it definitely is, in the same way that the organised Catholic Church is, and in the end it has the same lack of menace to all but the most paranoid. In a nation that encourages gay rights parades through staunchly working class areas with barely a flicker of protest, it is somehow indecent for one religious group to parade through the "territory" of another. The British government is so scared of this it has even set up a "parades commission" to say exactly what music a parade may play and banners it may display. Needless to say that this only applies to Protestant church parades. Protestants know that their culture will not survive Irish imperialism.


It often surprises new observers of Northern Ireland to find out that the people ruled themselves for fifty years. Under the terms of Home Rule two equal Parliaments were set up, one in the south for the Catholic majority areas and one in the north for the Protestant majority areas, both as part of the British commonwealth. The Southern Parliament quickly came under the sway of the fascist influenced extreme nationalists of Fianna Fail, and broke totally from the British State. The North stayed loyal. This was not a total success. Gerrymandering was employed to minimise Catholic seats in the Parliament of Ulster, the Stormont. There was rampant discrimination against Catholics in most good jobs. But wages, even for Catholics, were higher than over the border, and prices were lower; and there was no ethnic cleansing of the minority community. It all ended in an early British concession to the Catholic population: in 1972 the Stormont Parliament was closed forever and direct rule instituted.


When dealing with the knotty issue of Northern Ireland one must always in the end retreat into the mists of history. The one area of Irish politics that unites both English and American is bafflement at the immense role in which history plays. It is often said that the problem with the English is that they can never remember their history, while the problem with the Irish is that they can never forget it.


The common idea is that the English came over to Ireland with the intent, or at least the effect, of destroying a fine monastic civilisation. While it is true that the Irish did have a great civilisation, and converted Scotland, Wales and a large swathe of England to Christianity (although don’t ask where St. Patrick came from) by the time the Normans started invading in the twelfth century the Vikings had already got there first. The Irish monastic civilisation had been destroyed by Danes as the English monasteries almost were as well. In fact the English imperative in invading Ireland was not to suppress a well organised society, but to guard against the effects of its lack of centralised authority. You only need to look at a map of Ireland to realise that it was a constant threat to the security of England, not in itself, but as a base for a malevolent continental power (such as the Vikings in the tenth century or the French in 1798). This fear continued into the Second World War when Churchill and Roosevelt seriously considered re-occupying Ireland (as they occupied Iceland) as it could become a German base and Chamberlain offered Eire the North in return for entry into the war.


Now the English had Ireland, what were they to do with it? They did what every other European country did at this time; they oppressed the native population and tried to suppress their culture. It is no justification of English behaviour to say that they were unaware of human rights, but no one was. If the Irish were ruled by the French, Spanish or Scots during this time they would have fared worse: the idea that we must judge the events of the past using today’s standards is appealing but wrong. Americans who rightly point out that slavery and the dispossession of the Indians does not deserve their personal guilt, should extend the same principle to the British in Ireland. Where the actions of the English were truly horrific by the standards of the time, such as the massacres in the wake of Oliver Cromwell’s Irish campaign, they should be seen as such. Where the actions were merely of incompetence, like the Potato Famine, they should also be judged on the same basis, rather than as a deliberate holocaust. When one thinks of the only time that the Irish were united -- when they were under British rule – it was a time of mixed record rather than unmitigated horror, and far better than the Prussian treatment of the Poles, to take a random example.


This brings us to the role of the majority population in Northern Ireland, the Protestants. Why exactly were they there? The fact is that the people of Northern Ireland came from Scotland in the same way as the people of North America came from Europe. They were encouraged to move to Ireland to provide a loyal and Protestant (religion was a matter of state security in those days) population. The Protestant community was spread across the whole of Ireland, but mainly concentrated in the towns and on "plantations". The area that was concentrated was that which was seen as the most rebellious, the Northern third of Ireland, Ulster. This was four centuries ago, the same time the Atlantic seaboard was colonised. The Northern Irish, being of mainly Scottish stock and bringing with them an amount of capital, made the North into a prosperous area (by Irish standards). This was especially marked with the industrial revolution and, as is the want of relatively prosperous places, it attracted immigration from the South, from whom the majority of the Catholic population descends. The idea that a population deserves to be evicted because their descendants were there after yours is a repulsive one on its own. If applied honestly in Northern Ireland it could even be an idea that has entirely the opposite effect of the intentions of its Irish and American advocates.


So having set the scene (in Irish matters this always takes longer than visiting the present), one has to ask what this has to do with today and what this has to do with America. Admittedly this does not at first appear obvious. But one has only to look at the actions of a descendant of Ulstermen betraying his kin, William Jefferson Clinton and the laughably named "Peace Process," and the picture starts to come into focus.


Everyone believes in Peace, especially in Northern Ireland. Everyone wants an end to the terrorism, the cop killing, the church shootings and the murder of innocent people for the church that they were born into. The troubles are a maddening waste of good people’s lives. But how far would it have gone if instead of standing up to George III the colonists gave him what he was demanding and then hoped he would calm down? Well any schoolboy knows the answer to that. So with that fine understanding of history we go to terrorists and tell them that they can get, well, what they demand.


So what are the British doing for the IRA? Well they are breaking up the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the front line in the anti-terrorist resistance. Not only are they replacing its badge and name, which is insulting but not life threatening, but they are also encouraging the terrorists to take roles in the successor police force. In fact the architect of this humiliation, Chris Patten, the European Commissioner who ordered these changes, even recommends that police recruits should not be barred if they only commit "minor" offences. You can’t join the police if you have murdered a man, but you can if you have driven the getaway car. What is even more dangerous is the massive role that the IRA and its mirror groups of Protestant paramilitaries play in organised crime. Kosovo, where the KLA was given police roles over "their" communities was not the first place this was decided, and it will not be the last. You may as well have the Crips and the Bloods patrolling LA.


If the legitimisation of local terrorist control in Northern Ireland is not enough, the British wish to actually bring in the IRA political front organisation, Sinn Fein, to power throughout Northern Ireland. There are provisions for the compulsory insertion of terrorists in the police oversight bodies. There is also the provision of the mandatory inclusion of Sinn Fein\IRA leaders into the cabinet, so that the democratic parties cannot get together to exclude this bloodthirsty minority. Theoretically the IRA has to change, but not in practice. Unlike the democratic parties and the British and Irish governments, there is no IRA signature on the "Good Friday Agreement" that binds the other parties. The intimidation of "their" communities goes on, or "housekeeping" as the British government calls it. The IRA have also refused to give up the guns either metaphorically – they have a cease-fire not a renunciation of violence – or physically: not a single IRA bullet has been surrendered despite numerous promises. As the leader of Sinn Fein\IRA, Gerry Adams, boasts "We [the IRA] haven’t gone away, you know."


Surely this is a British problem? Well, not entirely. Although the British political elite wishes Northern Ireland would just go away, and even in the Conservative Party ideological Unionists are in a minority, it still saw the danger to Britain of allowing a terrorist group to override the wishes of the majority. If it works for the IRA, why not racists, would-be revolutionaries or even militant vegetarians? The message is obvious – the majority may not want your program, but with the judicious use of bomb and gun you can get the policies you wish for. Even if embarked on this process the British government would have lost patience with the IRA by now, whether abandoning the process or forcing the IRA to cripple its military arm. So who is the saviour of this criminal gang? W.J. Clinton.


The use of a number of bullying methods in trade and diplomacy to force the British to sell out the Protestant majority is motivated by a simple calculation: descendants of Irish Catholic in America sometimes vote together and descendants of Ulstermen (or Scotch-Irish) think of themselves purely as American. The Irish lobby is either too chauvinist to see that there may be two sides in a conflict, or like NORAID or the Irish-American Caucus, malevolently complicit in the terrorism. The role of the Kennedy’s, from drug-runnin’ Joe in the 1940s to the recent ambassador to Ireland, has been particularly vile. The fact that most Americans of Irish Catholic descent only think of the myths told by their grandparents is sad but understandable. It is the minority who act on it by voting for IRA friendly congressmen or even give money to NORAID, who should at least try to learn about the lives that they are blighting. And the American people should let their government know that it has no role in running the affairs of another country, let alone in trying to bring terrorists to power.

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