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More on state papers… invasion 1986 July 24, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Don’t know why I didn’t mention this before, but the last batch of state papers released earlier in the year, as noted in the IT – included plans for an invasion to protect nationalists should the worst occur. That worst being the establishment of a unionist/loyalist independent state:

State papers from 1986 indicate that high-ranking British officials such as cabinet secretary Robert Armstrong considered the declaration of an independent state by unionists an eminent possibility.
The high-level Defence Forces paper warns that within such a state “all the organs of power particularly the security services would be in the hands of loyalists.”

That last is fascinating. It underscores the reality of who had the potential for state power in Northern Ireland at that time, and the dominance of unionism in that geographic territory.

The following is also interesting, though I’d like more information and references to support its central contention:

Indeed, withdrawal from the territory was a popular topic of discussion among Westminster elites exasperated by the attitudes of unionists and nationalists alike. Against this backdrop, it is little wonder that the Republic was preparing for the outbreak of serious conflict across the Border.

Meanwhile here’s something with a more contemporary note:

The eight-page document prepared over six months in 1985/86 states it would be “more prudent than alarmist” to consider the consequences of a British withdrawal, pointing to the “reckless disregard” shown by the UK under similar circumstances in Israel/ Palestine and India / Pakistan.
This would not, however, compromise the loyalists’ military capabilities, with reference made to the formation of battalions comprised of UDR members and reservists, and backed up by loyalist paramilitaries and armed militia enlisted from the ranks of the RUC.

‘Reckless disregard’ is reminiscent of something happening at the moment. Be that as it may the ‘invasion’ plans appear fairly thin. As the IT notes:

While such a course of action may appear farfetched, the plans contain some outright aspirational elements such as the prospect of aerial assaults on Belfast or at least the mass evacuation of Catholics using only the handful of ill-equipped aircraft available to the Air Corps at the time.
This strategy combined with a sea assault/transport to Belfast harbour would be complemented by an “infiltration element”; an indication that the authorities may have considered deploying guerrilla-style tactics to soften the northern capital’s defences.
Roughly shaded sketches of Protestant and Catholic areas of Northern Ireland using orange and green coloured markers serve to further detract from the document’s credibility as a blueprint for cross-Border aggression.

And it does all appear to be highly theoretical and unlikely to survive contact with an actual armed force opposing its aims. And yet, the very fact that it was drawn up – even as a contingency – suggests that there was an official view that matters were out of control. Intriguingly the IT notes that the plan did not envisage ‘opposition from British Army companies’.

In any event, politics and pragmatism – perhaps sensibly – outran it:

The Council of Defence – which included the minister for defence Patrick Cooney and secretary of the department as well as the chief of staff, adjutant general and quarter-master general of the Defence Forces – voted unanimously against any possible intervention in Northern Ireland at its August 1985 meeting.

For some fairly solid reasons:

It suggested that the Defence Forces’ “numerical strength and equipment are hopelessly inadequate”, which reveals the divergent attitudes existent in the military hierarchy of the time regarding such a plan’s prospects of success.
This perspective contrasts sharply with the contents of the subsequent invasion plans, which state that the Defence Forces “have a capability for intervention to achieve certain objectives” in regard to Northern Ireland.

I wonder is the idea that there was any great split in thinking a bit of a stretch. Military planners are paid to make military plans however unlikely they may appear or are. Obviously the Defence Forces would be well able to carry out limited military operations – for example an evacuation of a town or city close to the border, say Newry or Derry (although not in the face of an armed response from British forces).

Notable, isn’t it that the fundamental issue in these plans, and the broader context, was not PIRA, though this is not in any way to downplay its activities during this period or how those fed into that context, but the possibility of a UDI by unionism/loyalism in the wake of the AIA. Frankly I’ve always thought that far fetched – as far fetched as London actually pulling out (though perhaps that last is less far-fetched). Unionism and loyalism’s raison d’être was always predicated on the relationship – however unreciprocated – with London. To call for UDI would fundamentally sever that relationship. Indeed what’s telling is what a difference a decade made. For all the bluster unionism and loyalism were unable – despite the levels of violence prevailing, to mount the sort of opposition seen against Sunningdale. That change is highly intriguing.

With power and without… July 24, 2017

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A very very interesting point made in a recent edition of Prospect magazine. In an overview of two books on the EU and the Eurozone crisis – one being the now ubiquitous Adults in the Room by Varoufakis, Chris Bickerton notes:

Adults in the Room has a fly-on-the-wall quality that makes it a captivating read. Those who come out worst are Europe’s social democrats, the French and the Germans in particular. In one meeting, Sigmar Gabriel, the Vice-Chancellor of Germany and until recently the leader of the Social Democrat Party (SPD) tells Varoufakis about his recent yachting holiday in Greece. Gabriel had repeatedly offered to pay his mooring fees, only to be told that there was no rush and that he could pay “whatever he wanted,” a sign in his view of the excessive “informality” that characterises Greek economic life. Varoufakis generously folds Gabriel’s remark into a wider conversation about tax evasion, but the reader cannot help thinking that the German’s main interest in Greece is as a picturesque location for his sailing trips.
The hypocrisy of centre-left politicians, who express sympathy with Varoufakis in private but then toe the austerity line in public, is dispiriting. France’s former finance minister, Michel Sapin, is one more culprit. The behind-the-scenes camaraderie towards Varoufakis, in Sapin’s case, comes from his interest in the ancient coins of Aegina, a Greek island near Athens. This fascination with Greek history contrasts with his unforgiving public pronouncements on the fate of contemporary Greece.

What an absolute shower. And Bickerton argues that Eurogroup meetings are a bit like committees where the ‘real’ decisions are made elsewhere and before hand and that any genuine engagement at them is infrequent at best. But this, as he notes, is down to those who are participating at them. They have the authority and the capacity to challenge and overturn this. Yet they don’t.

Understood in this way, it is easy to see why Varoufakis became such a hate figure. His boss, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, was told that negotiations would only continue if there was a change in finance minister. Varoufakis certainly lectured his peers and berated them for believing in a Greek recovery that did not exist, even on paper. But his real sin is challenging the “apparent consensus,” and bringing into the Eurogroup a debate about the eurozone and its policies.
Why did the finance ministers of countries like Spain and Slovakia round on him? Not because they wanted Greece to suffer as they had. Their grudge was far more personal. By tearing up the consensus, Varoufakis exposed them as cowards. He revealed how little they had challenged Germany’s interpretation of the euro crisis. The more Varoufakis argued, the more they could see how low they had sunk. For that reason alone, he had to go.

Left Archive: Grapevine – Newsletter of the Irish School-Students Union (I.S.U.), No. 3, September 1972 July 24, 2017

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To download the above please click on the following link. GRPVINE

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to Jim Monaghan for forwarding this very interesting document – issued by the Irish School Students Union from 1972. The newsletter outlines a range of activities that the ISU was involved in including meeting the Chief Executive officer of the VEC – as well as noting that they were unable to attend a meeting on Youth Security in Helsinki.

It would be very useful to have further information on the ISU and its goals.

Also included is a leaflet demanding the establishment of a Secondary Students Union which presumably predates the above document.

Green Sleeves exhibition, National Print Museum July 23, 2017

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Nice overview of the Green Sleeves record sleeves exhibition at the National Print Museum here at RockRoots, who was involved in preparatory stages and planning of the exhibition and loaned a large number of record sleeves to it (indeed a number of people who comment or participate on the CLR also loaned record sleeves).

The exhibition continues until the beginning of October. There’s a curators guided walkthrough early in September and some linked events on Culture Night in Dublin later in that month.

‘The finest men alive’: Documents of imprisonment & protest, 1916–17 July 23, 2017

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‘The finest men alive’: Documents of imprisonment & protest, 1916–17

An exhibition of documents concerning those imprisoned in Irish and British jails following the 1916 Rising until the general amnesty of June 1917.

Some familiar faces. Great project.

Closer to the heart? July 23, 2017

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I know this is bold but I can’t help thinking of this when I read this (which was very kindly linked to in comments during the week)…

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
They forge their creativity
Closer to the heart
Yes closer to the heart
Philosophers and plowmen
Each must know his part

To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart
Yes closer to the heart, yeah, oh
Whoa whoa
You can be the captain
And I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to…

Rush, Closer to the Heart.

Love the music, for my sins I love the band, but the sentiment though… kind of reactionary.

Dunkirk… and after… July 23, 2017

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Dunkirk, t arrives with high praise and with comparisons with Tarkovsky amongst others, which is cultural catnip for me.

But be that as it may, one of the genuine curiosities about those events in 1940 was the fact that many of the French troops taken off the beaches there were returned to France only a few short weeks later.

Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week July 23, 2017

Posted by Garibaldy in Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week.
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Parallel universe this week, where Ruth Dudley Edwards is posing as a guardian of the Irish language. She has also identified another example of extreme nationalism threatening all and sundry

The minister has positively Trumplike impulses to be seen as an action man on the international stage, while at home he seems driven by a desire to impress Cork South-Central, where one of his rival TDs is Deputy Martin. If you’re trying to live down a prosperous merchant-prince background in The Rebel County while challenging a fluent Irish-speaker who leads the Republican Party, “hollow posturing” involving snuggling up to Sinn Fein and annoying unionists must seem very tempting and the hell with the welfare of the language.

An amazing couple of sentences on so many levels.

Elsewhere, there are musings on the Cruiser and the peace process and on U2 and Leo Varadakar that might be cause for amusement.

Another weekend poll July 22, 2017

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And this one is from Sunday Independent/Kantar Millward Brown…

FG 30% +5 [since February]

FF 29% -4

SF 20% NC

LP 7% +1

IND 7% +3

IA 5% NC

GP 2% NC

SOL/PBP 1% -2

SD 1% -2

Margin of Error +/- 3%

A fair bit of movement outside the MOE, isn’t there? But then February is a long time back. What’s still clear is that FF/FG and SF appear to sit within fairly clear bands of support. The LP is still in the reckoning, Independents are at 12% all told (far from awful but close to 4% lower than at the GE in 2016). I find the SOL/PBP rating a bit on the low side, same with SDs, I’d tend to the view the RedC/SBP poll is more reflective of their actual levels of support. But. Then again these are parties that start with low enough levels. It could easily be that SOL/PBP is on 4%, and SDs likewise.

Anyhow, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this wasn’t the last poll before the Dáil returns in mid-September.

Gigs and nostalgia July 22, 2017

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A few weeks or so ago I discovered the Jesus and Mary Chain were playing Dublin later this year – the week of my birthday no less (cash, no cheques please). And my immediate impulse was to purchase tickets – not least because I missed them last time around earlier in the year. When that happened I was (briefly) irritated by it but I was surprised by my reaction this last week or so… not so much. Perhaps it is that if they’re back twice in one year, chances are they’ll likely be back again.

Anyhow then I thought, hold on a second, OMD are playing the following week and while I’ve seen the JAMC (on their 1987 Darklands tour no less where they played IIRC the SFX and mighty fine they were too) I’ve never seen OMD and given I’ve limited funds and OMD’s last album was pretty good… well I wound up getting the OMD tickets instead. I don’t even have a flicker of regret. Either the JAMC will be back or they won’t be, but I get to see someone who while I very much like are a half-step away from my usual comfort zone (however much I loved their first four or five albums I was always deeply suspicious of OMD’s post-Dazzle Ships uber-pop inflected career).

I’m all for nostalgia – up to a point, and the JAMC were genuinely innovative and I’d still be very very fond of their music. But I’m also wary of just reliving the past – or attempting to. My memories of the ’87 gig are scattered. It was dark and loud and there was a lot of feedback and the band was difficult to see. I didn’t drink before gigs at the time, so that fragmentary recollection is a bit inexplicable (unlike a shameful lack of memory of much of a Primal Scream gig in the early 1990s, and Nick Cave live around the same time slips in and out of mental view for much the same reason). Was it any good? I seem to think it was. But I can’t quite tell. If (or when) I see them again will they be good, or better, or revelatory, or what? Whatever else they won’t be the JAMC of 1987.

Neither will OMD. But nostalgia with them functions in a different way I think. Would I even think of going if their last album wasn’t as good as it was? I’d suspect not.

There was a good Tracey Thorn column in the New Statesman last month where she went to see Bob Dylan and came away unimpressed. As she said herself that wasn’t her intention as she likes Dylan a lot, but from her description it wasn’t great. But she argues that no gigs she attended ever matched the gigs of her teenage years. Ian Drury in 1978 stands out for her.

It was sex and drugs and rock’n’roll indeed. Or snogging and smoking and dancing. No wonder I count it as one of the best gigs of my life – but was that down to the band, or the being in a room full of hormones and possibility, on the brink of discovering who I was, buzzing with nicotine and electricity? Past a certain age, can any gig hope to conjure up that type of feeling? Even Dylan?

I didn’t have that experience – indeed that sounds more like my experience of what now sound almost quaint, the ‘discos’ and dances of my mid-teens.

Thorn was at Ian Drury at 16 and if I recall her autobiography correctly had been going to gigs for a couple of years at that stage. But I went to my first real gigs – as distinct from very small pub gigs (Winters Reign – natch) or larks in the park – in my mid teens. And gigs were not about the snogging at that point. Or after. At least not in my experience.

That that sense of possibility she describes came later for me, probably in the early 1990s when I started going to a lot of gigs, and that was very much bound up with the music. And by then I was in my mid to late 20s. I don’t think that’s left me, that sense when a gig – in whatever genre – is good that it does achieve a timeless quality. But reading her I’m glad that my sense of that isn’t so caught up with a perception of myself as young or my youth – that ship sailed many decades ago.

In a way I envy her her experience – and not least because it dovetails with punk, just about. Seven years later at one of what I consider my first real gigs – the Damned in the SFX – that energy and excitement was long gone and one suspects that the reason the different groups of goths and punks in attendance eyed each other with wariness and an edge of barely suppressed hostility was in no small part to knowing that that was the case.

Thorn asks an interesting question ‘what do I want from a gig?’. She answers that circuitously arriving back at her youth… ‘nothing can match those vivid gigs of my teenage years, where the night out mattered more than who was on stage, where what I wore mattered more than what they sang’. I see it the opposite way around. Who was on stage always mattered more than the night out, what they sang or played was more important than what I wore. I’d sooner save my money and buy an album than go to a group I had no interest for just to say I’d attended it. Again, I wonder is that a function of coming to gigs slightly older? Or perhaps that was economic. I didn’t have the money to waste so I didn’t go. And there were fewer, far fewer gigs in Dublin.

Thorn lived in England and close enough to an urban centre that had a vibrant gig life whereas things were sparser (and more expensive) in Dubiln during and after that period. I’ve mentioned before how it was really only in the early to mid 1990s with the Tivoli in particular that I started to go to gigs on a not quite weekly basis. I’d be curious if that was the experience of other people too?

Anyhow, I’ve name checked it before, but Thorn’s book on her career is a wonder. A genuinely compelling memoir of the 1970s onwards.

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