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Confusion on an historic scale October 21, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

There was a strangely revealing section of EH’s column this last weekend that I think is worth considering. In it he wrote:

First comes Miriam O’Callaghan, followed by Tommie Gorman, Matt Cooper, Ivan Yates. Kate O’Connell also reached out on The Tonight Show when Diarmaid Ferriter said he had no sympathy whatsoever for the DUP.

How could any Irish republican not have sympathy with Arlene Foster who saw her father crawl into their farmhouse covered in blood and the driver of her school bus murdered in cold blood?

Suppose positions were reversed, and we were a Roman Catholic minority of a million in a small Catholic region, on a partitioned island with a Protestant Free State on the other side of the Border.

Suppose the Protestants, with a majority on the island began to butcher our fathers and brothers.

Can you imagine how bitter our memories would be?

The obvious problem is the conflation of two (actually more) different dynamics. One can indeed say one has no sympathy for the DUP on the issue of Brexit and its handling of same and lack of regard for this island while having every sympathy for Arlene Foster. I’ve often wondered how she has managed on a personal level given what she experienced, and I’ve had some admiration for her willingness on occasion to go beyond the necessary and make gestures that must have been hugely difficult (even if these have been intermittent).

But it’s deeply unfair to Ferriter or indeed anyone else to say that the history invalidates the present, as if the DUP, or anyone gets a free pass because of history. And EH collapses and ignores so much in his counterfactual, not least the issue of state power in the North linked to state power in Britain as well as the militarisation of populations on behalf of those state powers etc.

And let’s be honest, it’s not as if the DUP, or those adjacent to it are morally pure in all this either. The Spotlight programmes should come as a salutary reminder that of all the political parties in the North the only ones that perhaps could be said to have genuinely no problematic links were the SDLP and Alliance plus a smattering of the smaller leftist parties (which is no endorsement of any of them either).


1. roddy - October 21, 2019

For the record ,neither Fosters RUC father or UDR bus driver were killed in the incidents described and both would have been armed at all times.They would have been in a position to defend themselves unlike the overwhelming number of those killed by state forces and the loyalists they colluded with.


WorldbyStorm - October 21, 2019

Well the first is simple happenstance, though wasn’t a schoolmate of Fosters very badly injured, and both would have an impact without question on any child. And bombing a school bus isn’t an act I’d stand over in the conflict. But the fact is, as noted above, there was a militarisation that EH ignores completely.


2. 6to5against - October 22, 2019

Oh God, its full of so many false analogies that it’s hard to think my way into his logic, but if I have this right we have to sympathise with the DUP who’s whole raison d’etre is to maintain the political domination that their majority position historically allowed them in a state that was created just so that they would have that majority.

And if we’re struggling to do so, we should imagine what its like to be part of a minority population.

I think I have that now.

And if we fail to do so we are somehow indifferent to, and possibly complicit with, the trauma suffered by a child in a warzone.


WorldbyStorm - October 22, 2019

+1 Yeah, it’s pretty shocking stuff really. And such a massive distortion of the actual power relationships it is difficult to know how he can seriously put it to paper. What I find fascinating is the partiality of if. Or actually it is zero sum. One can only sympathise/empathise with one cohort of people, in his case ‘Protestants’ (again the very sectarian aspects of that are ignored as are the political aspects of the overall context). But in truth sympathy and empathy aren’t enough. I have sympathy for Foster and indeed anyone who has suffered what she did (and in many instances much more). But that doesn’t mean, as you rightly say, that that is where it ends. Because if one doesn’t acknowledge the overall dynamics then it doesn’t progress matters a step further than whatever given status quo one is at.

The reality EH ignores is that nationalist/Repubilcans were a minority, that they had been largely abandoned by the South, that the sub-state in which they found themselves alienated and isolated them yet further, that politically there was no means of them having any portion of power, that there was a raft of repressive measures directed precisely to maintaining their status as lesser and when the British came in there was a specific effort to first militarise and later to arguably paramiltarise the situation (not in the sense of traditional paramilitaries, albeit they played a part but through the use of armed police force, local militia, etc). And the whole rotten structure was so grim that by 1990 even the British (Tories to an extent, Labour to a greater extent) realised it had to be dismantled.

It takes some effort to close ones eyes to that doesn’t it?


3. benmadigan - October 22, 2019

Plea: Spare a thought for Ulster unionists and Loyalists!
Advice: And then walk on by, walk on by

Remember: I’ve never heard anyone other than themselves say a good word about Ulster Unionists/Loyalists.



WorldbyStorm - October 22, 2019

That’s a great point, spare a thought and walk on by!


4. roddy - October 22, 2019

Ben,it’s obvious you don’t get RTE which gives them very positive coverage,especially in the form of Northern editor TommyGorman.


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