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Sunday and other Media Stupid Statements from this week… November 29, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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The Irish Times offered this contradictory analysis on Friday:

The Government is expected to launch a major publicity campaign urging people to have a “safe Christmas” after tonight’s expected announcements of a lifting of the lockdown and the reopening of social and economic life. People will be told that “every contact counts” and told to limit their social and family interactions over the Christmas period.

Some ‘reopening’ that.

Same with this:

As Ireland gets ready to reopen for business next week, there is little reason to think a third surge of Covid-19 can be avoided next year.This is the reality of “living with the virus”, when transmission has not been reduced to manageable levels and where the finer techniques for hunting it down have not been mastered.

But hey, apparently nothing to worry about even if the next month is going to bring mixing on a scale unseen in the period since the pandemic first struck…

With no excess deaths in Ireland since May, a sense of proportion is needed. Seasonal factors are helping to drive up cases at the moment, and will ultimately push them down again. The second wave was nowhere near as bad as the first, and the next one should be more manageable still.

Oddly PHE in the UK don’t take such a sunny view and they’ve a more restrictive Christmas reopening.

Stephen Collins is very sure of the following about Joe Biden…

That attachment was evident in his warnings to the UK, before and after his election, not to breach the terms of the Belfast Agreement in the course of the Brexit process. Crucially Biden has a real understanding of this country and does not pander to cliched demands for a united Ireland parroted by some US politicians. Instead he is committed to the shared island approach being followed by Taoiseach Micheál Martin

Huh? That ‘shared island’ approach is not identical to the GFA/BA – indeed there’s an argument it diverges sharply from certain aspects of the GFA/BA.

And this being the season to project any old thing on Biden according to the political inclinations of those doing the projecting, here’s Newton Emerson on the same topic

The phrase that has intrigued most people in Ireland is “we do not want a guarded Border”. For unionists, the words that immediately followed are more important: “We’ve worked too long to get Ireland worked out.” As far as Irish republicans and many nationalists are concerned, Ireland is not worked out. The Belfast Agreement is a transitional arrangement, not a settlement, and Brexit should bring forward its Border poll mechanism.While Biden said nothing incompatible with that, nor did he sound like someone yearning to push for difficult change. The opportunity here for unionists, which precedent suggests they will squander, is to glad-hand around the United States agreeing Ireland is indeed worked out and Biden is just the man to keep it that way.

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1. EWI - November 29, 2020

Surely a contender as well:

Shot, bayoneted and clubbed: the ruthless lengths the IRA went to at Kilmichael

[…] Some people recoiled from the bloodshed, Barry revelled in it. On the night before Kilmichael he told his men that it was them or the Auxiliaries. It was kill, or be killed. By definition, a Flying Column had to be mobile and could not take prisoners.

The post-mortem results found in Kew do not shed any light on the thorny issue which has surrounded Kilmichael for decades – the notion that some of the Auxiliaries had engaged in a “false surrender” leading to the deaths of two IRA volunteers, Jim O’Sullivan and Mike McCarthy […] The autopsy reports show, says Herlihy, that the Kilmichael ambush was a “fight to the finish” and that the IRA exhibited “utter ruthlessness” in endeavouring to ensure that all the Auxiliaries were killed.

“They made sure they were dead. It was that simple. The backlash would have been made [British reprisal] in Balbriggan or Rineen (in Co Clare) when there were huge retaliations . . . It was a huge victory for the IRA.

“It would have justified another retaliation on the men involved, but there was nothing for the authorities to even start on. It is also clear from the post mortems that the ambush party went around from man to man shooting and bayoneting those they thought were still alive,” he says.

And an article which otherwise lovingly lingers over the British army and the biographical details of dead Auxiliaries (dead volunteers get no such consideration).

McGreevy purports to be a historian and cannot be unaware that the British were claiming in propaganda after the ambush that the dead Auxiliaries were attacked with ‘axes’. He also cannot be unaware that Barry and his column took prisoners on other occasions and let them go unharmed. So, the question is why he commits such nonsense to writing and apparently repeats every claim that pops into the heads of the Crown forces groupies in HARP.

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EWI - November 29, 2020
2. ar scáth a chéile - November 29, 2020

RTE referring to Maradona’s hand of God goal ( second only to Kevin McManomon”s against Kerry in 2011 in the all time table) as ‘infamous’

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sonofstan - December 1, 2020

A lot of people think ‘infamous’ means ‘even more famous’.

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gypsybhoy69 - December 12, 2020

ar scáth – I thought Kevin’s goal in 2011 was majestic.
Are you not mixing it up with the 2013 goal. The ‘did he mean it’ goal? Both against Kerry, 2011 in the final and 2013 in a semi.

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3. EWI - November 29, 2020

Surely the ‘working out’ means the GFA, which is at its heart a mechanism to eventually trigger a United Ireland. Collins and Emerson are being disingenuous, as are the IT editors who allow this guff to see print.

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benmadigan - November 29, 2020

as Brexit hits, with slight or no deal, after jan 1st, farmers to the south of the invisible border will see their CAP payments continue; farmers to the north won’t and farmers whose lands straddle the border will see a proportionate reduction in payments for their lands and herds.
How long will it take for big Unionist farmers to start demanding a return to the status quo and their livelihoods, via a border poll?

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EWI - November 30, 2020

How long will it take for big Unionist farmers to start demanding a return to the status quo and their livelihoods, via a border poll?

Twenty years ago I would have had my doubts, given that stuff like refusing to allow Catholics to buy farms was still (is still?) going on.

But then ‘our cows are Irish’ happened. Though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tories doing a special, once-off time-limited deal to subsidise Northen farmers to the hilt and get past the next danger decade.

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benmadigan - November 30, 2020

“that stuff about refusing to allow Catholics to buy farms was still going on” in 2013

https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/no-pope-here-never-ever-ever/

With regards to your other points, I’d be very surprised to see the Tories subsidizing small to medium sized Unionist farmers. Their latest post-Brexit agricultural policy, for England at least, seems aimed at getting rid of them and concentrating land in the hands of very few large landowners.So if they are throwing their own people off the land . . .
In my view, all farmers and business people of whatever persuasion will probably be incensed at the DUP for driving Brexit as they will have to cope with new forms, customs, checks on drivers, vehicles, goods, food and livestock etc, delays in transportation as the lorries have to transit the Kent Lorry park aka the Farage Garage and so on.
And they all know it takes only 1 vote to change things for the better and back to the status quo that the majority voted for in the EU Referendum

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Joe - November 30, 2020

“How long will it take for big Unionist farmers to start demanding a return to the status quo and their livelihoods, via a border poll?”

Probably forever imho. History shows that material interests don’t necessarily trump whatever it is that makes the likes of us Irish nationalists and the likes of them Ulster unionists. For a long time in the 20th century, the Free State and then the RoI was an economic basket case. Our people emigrated in their millions to find work in Britain. Did we, Irish nationalists, decide we’d be better off applying to rejoin the UK? We did in our hats.
I’d be similarly confident that Unionist farmers, big and small, will stay unionist whatever economic hits, temporary or permanent, big or small, they might take as a result of Brexit.

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sonofstan - November 30, 2020

See also going ‘you’ll be sorry!’ to leave voters in Sunderland and Port Talbot.

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sonofstan - November 30, 2020

“When the Labour leadership election was going on, I don’t rememeber any comments about Rebecca Long-Bailey’s Irish roots

https://jacobinmag.com/2020/01/rebecca-long-bailey-anti-catholicism-abortion-labour-uk

Yeah, saw that – but I meant in Ireland….

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alanmyler - November 30, 2020

But I think you put your finger on it there Joe when you said that people voted with their feet to leave during those decades. So while the Free State didn’t re-join the UK, a not insignificant number of the citizens of the Free State did, some temporarily as was the case in my family, some permanently. As for the big Unionist farmers up North, perhaps they’ll do what some big farmers have already been doing and leave Ireland to go farm in Canada or elsewhere, which might also suit their ideological bent towards colonialism in some ways. Maybe that’s being unfair.

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sonofstan - November 30, 2020

“But I think you put your finger on it there Joe when you said that people voted with their feet to leave during those decades. So while the Free State didn’t re-join the UK, a not insignificant number of the citizens of the Free State did, some temporarily as was the case in my family, some permanently”

Something I’ve been thinking about lot recently is the different perceptions people in Ireland have – or had – or those who emigrated to the UK versus those who went west. There’s relatively little recogition of the huge cultural impact of 2nd gen Irish people to popular culture, music in particular, here, or to politics. When the Labour leadership election was going on, I don’t rememeber any comments about Rebecca Long-Bailey’s Irish roots whereas a state senator in Idaho 6 generations removed from Mayo will be noted (OK, exaggerating, but you know what I mean).

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alanmyler - November 30, 2020

Interesting question. Just thinking out loud here but I wonder whether in some way that has something to do with American exceptionalism? Meaning that, from the perspective of those who remained here in Ireland, those who emigrated to the US were seen as chasing the American dream, an ambitious and brave life journey awaited them, whereas those who left to go to England might have been seen as a bit of an embaressment, because leaving Ireland to go to live in the land of the old enemy was seen as an admission of the failures in many ways of the independence project. In other words going to the US was all about the pull of American success, but going to Britain was about the push of Irish failure? And hence best not spoken about.

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sonofstan - November 30, 2020

Yes, I think that’s it, pretty much.
There’s a good book by Sean Campbell about the Irish contribution to British music (Irish Blood, English Heart) where he recounts how many 2nd gen Irish musicians were taken aback by hostility in Ireland to their sense of being Irish, both on visits’ back’ as kids and later, when touring.

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rockroots - November 30, 2020

It’s to do with self-identifying too, perhaps? Americans don’t have that sense of national cohesion that England (seems to) have, so they cling onto that association much longer than is plausible anywhere else. Biden at such a remove can declare “I’m Irish”, and turn it into part of his electoral arsenal because so many other Americans also consider themselves ‘Irish’. Does the same apply in places like Australia or Canada? I suspect not to anything like the same degree. I had a Scottish grandfather but to call myself Scottish would feel absurd.

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Joe - November 30, 2020

The Irish in Britain. And their children and their children’s children. So many great and complicated and contradictory stories. Football and music. And politics and the whole gamut.
Martin Keown of Arsenal and England with his Irish dancing medals (or was that Alan McLoughlin with the dancing medals. Whatever Keown was from a very Irish family) versus for example the English nationalist fascist Yaxley-Lennon and his Irish roots.
And on and on.

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CL - November 30, 2020

Biden’s possible India links spark genealogical frenzy

https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/us-president-elect-joe-bidens-possible-india-links-spark-genealogical-frenzy-232510

” The victory of Joe Biden has put another family in the spotlight–the Bidens of Nagpur – thanks to their shared ancestry with the US president-elect.”
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/joe-bidens-nagpur-connection/articleshow/79173754.cms

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CL - November 30, 2020

“the lonely ruin is believed to have been the birthplace of Baroness Thatcher’s great-grandmother Catherine Sullivan who was born in Dromanassig, four miles outside Kenmare, Co Kerry, in 1811.”
https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-20228640.html

” Tim Sullivan went from a poor Five Points Great Hunger immigrant to Tammany Hall politician, but he never forgot his humble roots….
Sullivan founded Kenmare Street in 1911, in memory of the town his mother emigrated from.”
https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/kenmare-street-new-york-city

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EWI - November 30, 2020

When the Labour leadership election was going on, I don’t rememeber any comments about Rebecca Long-Bailey’s Irish roots

https://jacobinmag.com/2020/01/rebecca-long-bailey-anti-catholicism-abortion-labour-uk

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rockroots - November 30, 2020

Tony Blair’s granny was from Donegal and Rees-Mogg’s granny was Irish-American. How does coverage of their Irish roots compare?

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CL - November 30, 2020

J. Rees-Moggs Catholicism derives from his Irish-American grandmother, but his daddy, William, took some pains to point out she was ‘lace-curtain’ Irish rather than ‘shanty’.

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Joe - November 30, 2020

Google ‘Tony Blair Irish grandmother’ for some great stories. Here’s just one https://www.donegaldaily.com/2014/01/21/paisley-i-trust-tony-blair-because-of-his-protestant-orange-order-donegal-grandad/.

I couldn’t find it online but I remember reading Blair himself commenting on the anti-Catholic sectarian opinions of his Donegal gran.
It’s a crazy mixed-up world.

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Pasionario - November 30, 2020

Many younger Protestants have been voting with their feet for years.

Roughly speaking, they are much more likely to go to university in Britain and stay there.

Catholics are more likely to go to university in the North (where there is a substantial Catholic plurality among students throughout higher education) or the Republic and stay in Ireland.

This is a significant driver of the long-term demographic shift in the North.

When (and it is a when, not an if) a United Ireland does come about, I would expect some flight to the mainland, as happened in the Free State.

But most unionists will stick around and fight for their interests. Sure they’ll probably end up getting on great with the Blueshirts and freeze Sinn Fein out of power for years. How’s that for an irony of history?

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EWI - November 30, 2020

But most unionists will stick around and fight for their interests. Sure they’ll probably end up getting on great with the Blueshirts and freeze Sinn Fein out of power for years. How’s that for an irony of history?

If the Unionist and SF support is anywhere around equivalence when that happens, it would represent a substantial gain in seats to SF in the Dåil (which is what Mickey Martin is probably looking at).

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EWI - November 30, 2020

whatever it is

I don’t think that this is an under-explored area, Joe.

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Joe - November 30, 2020

“I don’t think that this is an under-explored area, Joe.”

Neither do I, EWI. But we could explore it further and further forever and ever, and it would still be fascinating and mysterious. The local example being how ‘they’ came over here, that particular time and in that particular way and to those particular places, and remained separate and distinct and apart from ‘us’ and likewise ‘us’ from ‘them’.
But, like, what makes the Scottish Scottish and the English English? And the Haitians Haitian and the Dominican Republicans Dominican Republican? And the Croats Croats and the Serbs Serbs? And on and on, forever and ever.

Sure what else are we doing on here and everywhere else except trying to explore it and explore it all further and further?

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EWI - November 30, 2020

It’s not mysterious that it went away in 26 counties after the imperial blank cheque was removed.

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4. CL - November 30, 2020

“For a long time in the 20th century, the Free State and then the RoI was an economic basket case. Our people emigrated in their millions to find work in Britain. Did we, Irish nationalists, decide we’d be better off applying to rejoin the UK? ” Joe.
Ireland was also an economic basket case as a member of the UK, demonstrated most clearly in the middle of the 19th century.

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Joe - November 30, 2020

For sure, yes. Good point.

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5. roddy - November 30, 2020

The farming vote ,Unionist or otherwise is peripheral.I live in as rural an area as you can get and those dependent on agriculture for a living would be a percentage in low single figures.

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alanmyler - November 30, 2020

Political influence is not something that’s necessarily proportional to numbers voting. There’s only one Larry Goodman for example.

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Daniel Rayner O'Connor - November 30, 2020

In fairness to fred Engels, his support for French occupation of Algeria and the Us-Mexico War were all in the 1840s, before the Communist Manifesto, He showed himself all;e to learn, unlike the others you mention.

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Joe - November 30, 2020

Full-time farmers are probably very few in number, north and south. But agriculture is a significant industry north and south. Downstream jobs in food processing and import and export etc. Lots of jobs in the agriculture/food industry.

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Fergal - November 30, 2020

In reply to Joe and Son above…on second generation Irish in Britain…
I don’t think it’s unique to the Irish… the experience of Algerians in France has these echoes too… when they go back to the ‘bled’ they’re French and in France they’re the other…
Albert Memmi called it the ‘abyss of identity’
If you can get your hands on Yamina Benguigui’s documentary ‘Mémoires d’ Immigrés’… stunning.
And of course an oppressive church/mosque!
Rachid Taha once corrected a TV journalist who called him ‘one of the best Arab musicians in France’ by saying ‘just get rid of Arab, I’m a musician above all else
Memmi recounts in ‘Portrait of the Decolonised’ that Valéry Giscard dEstaing was the first French President to visit post-independent Algeria… his cavalcade was followed by thousands of youths not flinging insults or stones but shouting for ‘cartes de séjour’ (visas)

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sonofstan - November 30, 2020

Yeah…I once had a conversation on the picket line with someone from the French dept. here about Algeria and Algerian literature and said, somewhat apologetically, that I tended to compare the relationship to France with the Irish/ British one and that I was sure it was quite different. He said no, that it’s very close to being the same.

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CL - November 30, 2020

“Algeria and Ireland occupied unique but parallel positions within the French and British Empires. Both were not legally considered colonies but rather integral parts of the imperial metropole….
Their histories had been shaped by the mass importation of settlers, the expropriation of land and the imposition of new cultural and religious norms. They were, at least in theory, governed directly from the respective imperial capitals and represented in Parliament.”
https://www.theirishstory.com/2020/04/24/striking-against-colonialism-the-general-strike-in-the-irish-and-algerian-revolutions/#.X8T0MM1Kifg

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alanmyler - November 30, 2020

I’m reading Simone De Beauvoir’s memoir Force Of Circumstance at the moment which covers the period of the struggle for Algerian independence and the atmosphere in France around that time. Actually she had more to say about that than she had about the occupation and collaboration during WW2. What comes across is the confusion that Algeria created in France’s view if itself. The indifference of the mass of French people towards the Algerian struggle, the chauvinism of the mass media, the disgust of sections of the intelligentsia, the cynicism of the political class, the wavering of the PCF. I haven’t read much about contemporary British perspectives of the Troubles but I’d presume it’s pretty similar. But I wonder if France’s earlier defeat in Indochina had conditioned the reaction to Algeria in the same way that Britain’s longer retreat from India and the rest of the empire in preceding decades helped to form the reaction to Northern Ireland? Maybe it was more novel in the French case?

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EWI - November 30, 2020

I haven’t read much about contemporary British perspectives of the Troubles but I’d presume it’s pretty similar.

The behaviour of some parts of the British labour movement towards their Irish ‘comrades’ 1914-23 is an eye opener.

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CL - November 30, 2020

” Throughout the history of the European Left, many self-proclaimed internationalists and radical reformers were cheerleaders of violence abroad: the Saint-Simonians defended the French Empire; Engels embraced the French conquest of Algeria and the American war on Mexico; Charles Dickens called for Hindus to be wiped out after the 1857 Indian Uprising; and the Fabians in the Labour Party supported despotic rule over the Empire since it was ‘no longer a Commonwealth of white men and baptized Christians’….
For Tony Blair, as he outlined in Chicago in 1999, internationalism meant a world order of markets, rights and laws policed by military action. Many of his supporters bought it wholesale. Britain in Iraq was, one liberal journalist simpered, the ‘armed wing of Amnesty International’.- Richard Seymour.
https://newint.org/features/2018/09/13/anti-imperialist-labour-party

” You can trace a chain of hypocrisy from Thomas Jefferson keeping his own children enslaved to George W. Bush’s disastrous so-called liberation of Iraq….
Niall Ferguson, an open defender of empire, becomes an in-demand pundit. …Thomas Friedman …(who) has variously championed the Iraq War, Israeli airstrikes on civilian areas, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, still commands respect as a paragon of common sense….
Observing the close historical relationship between liberal ideas and imperial practice has led Indian, Chinese, and Japanese writers to political creeds that were more complex, less universalizing, and less fanatically individualistic….
Without any intellectual ventilation, without taking seriously the warnings of those with other vantages, you’ll end up where we are, with “blond bullies” presiding over Washington and London and a baffled elite unable to do anything about it. The barbarians were never at the gate, Mishra observes. They were inside it, and they’ve been “ruling us for some time.”
https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/09/21/pankaj-mishra-you-can-only-see-liberalism-from-the-bottom/

This is the appropriate context and perspective from which to evaluate and analyze the comprador historians of Irish revisionism.

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sonofstan - November 30, 2020

Re Algeria and Ireland: it’s a pity there isn’t a movie about Ireland to compare with The Battle of Algiers: a high bar, admittedly.

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alanmyler - November 30, 2020

Only saw that for the first time a few years ago. Must watch it again. Might be one to save for a quiet night in (!) as I don’t think herself would be that interested in watching it with me.

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roddy - November 30, 2020

The “lots of jobs in the food industry” are jobs which depend on workers from eastern Europe and further afield. In my young days processing factories were bastions of orangeism where “no catholic need apply”.In recent years however they have had great difficulty recruiting due to unsociable shift patterns and the mind numbing boredom of much of the work. Bigotry has been cast aside in favour of profit and work is available to anyone who will do it. I recently did some work for someone from a Unionist background who told me he worked in a Mid Ulster food factory.However he had “a handy number” as a maintainance electrician and informed me in his own words that “the foreigners have all the shite jobs”.Those who rant about immigration dont realise that both the food industry and the health service would be in big trouble if foreign nationals did not work here.

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6. Joe - November 30, 2020

I would argue that ‘it’ was and is a different thing in the 26 than it is in the 6. And that there were other factors in it going away in the 26 – it wasn’t just about, as you put it, the imperial blank cheque being removed.
But I do genuinely appreciate your knowledge and perspectives on this topic, EWI. Look forward to more exploration of it over that cup of tea in Dessie Ellis’s or wherever the next CLR gathering will be.

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Joe - November 30, 2020

Oops. That was in response to “It’s not mysterious that it went away in 26 counties after the imperial blank cheque was removed.”, from EWI further up the thread.

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EWI - November 30, 2020

I would argue that ‘it’ was and is a different thing in the 26 than it is in the 6

Monaghan isn’t somehow magically different from Fermanagh or Tyrone. It’s the most self-satisfied element of the partitionist mindset to claim otherwise.

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Paul Culloty - November 30, 2020

There is a difference to the extent that even in 1911, the percentages of Protestants living in Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal were far lower than they currently are West of the Bann, leaving them with the stark alternatives of acclimatisation to the new regime, or emigration. Perhaps the closest experience to what might be expected here after reunification was in Rathmines, where unionists dominated local politics until well into the Forties.

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sonofstan - November 30, 2020

Rathmines lost its independence in 1930 didn’t it? Were unionists elected to Dublin Corporation from D6 after that?

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pettyburgess - November 30, 2020

Donegal finally ceased electing “soft-communal” Protestant candidates when the Donegal Progressive Party lost its final council seat in… [squints at notes]… 1999.

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EWI - December 1, 2020

Rathmines lost its independence in 1930 didn’t it? Were unionists elected to Dublin Corporation from D6 after that?

Once the Protestant supremacist position in Dublin became untenable, even with the efforts in making the townships, the wealthy PUL class in the metropolis pretty much rebranded itself as ratepayer, business parties etc.

And then migrated to CnaG/FG (and latterly the greens).

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Liberius - December 1, 2020

And then migrated to CnaG/FG (and latterly the greens).

I wouldn’t imagine there were many pre-partition unionists still around when the Ecology Party was founded in *checks notes* 1981.

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7. Joe - November 30, 2020

“Monaghan isn’t somehow magically different from Fermanagh or Tyrone.”

You’ve made that point on here before, EWI. Iirc it was Sligo and Fermanagh the last time. And I think I understand what you are saying – that pre-partition there was a substantial unionist population in e.g. Sligo and Monaghan but that now there isn’t. Which leads nicely to a quote from Paul Culloty – “leaving them with the stark alternatives of acclimatisation to the new regime, or emigration.” So I guess they were the choices that those ‘wrong side of the border’ unionists had – and some made one choice and some made another. And many who made the choice to ’emigrate’, ’emigrated’ to north of the border.
It’s my opinion fwiw that if and when there is a UI, the unionists of the 6 counties will not disappear (for want of a better word) as easily as those in the south of the border counties did after independence. There’s too many of them, they’re too concentrated in the nth east corner. They’ll stick together. They won’t surrender! If it’s not handled right they can frig the whole thing up for themselves and for us. So, they’ll have to be accommodated – their British identity will have to be accommodated. A reverse GFA in perpetuity or something like that.

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roddy - November 30, 2020

They would get a “reverse GFA” for a lengthy period and I don’t know anybody who would deny them that.Unfortunately this would’nt satisfy a large cohort for whom never ending supremacism is their core ideology.

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Colm B - November 30, 2020

I get what you’re saying Roddy, but once the huge hurdle of accepting a united Ireland ( with reverse GFA included) has been passed without a major outbreak of sectarian violence by the loyalist paramilitaries, then surely the worst is over and time, integration into the new state and, crucially, the breakup of Britain, will work it’s magic as it were.
Optimistic, I know, but quite possible.

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benmadigan - November 30, 2020

I agree with what you said Joe about population movement North after the Treaty was signed .
Moreover many of the Unionists who left for England left because their jobs continued there. They were Imperial Civil Servants, British Army officers and soldiers, policement,and were accompanied by their wives and children, servants etc,

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EWI - December 1, 2020

And I think I understand what you are saying – that pre-partition there was a substantial unionist population in e.g. Sligo and Monaghan but that now there isn’t.

I don’t think you understand it at all, unfortunately. Where was the continuing sectarian strife that was the hallmark since the colonisation project first started? Poof! Gone.

Which suggests that your analysis is entirely mistaken.

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Joe - December 1, 2020

Just looking back at this thread, magic has been invoked a couple of times, even by at least one avowed Marxist :).
But, Poof! Gone… it would be indeed a very good thing if the sectarian strife got gone once the UI happens, if it ever does.

I reckon I’ll be pushing up the daisies by the time any UI arrives. I hope you’re still around EWI to witness the great new dawn and to see your analysis vindicated.

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EWI - December 1, 2020

to witness the great new dawn and to see your analysis vindicated.

We already have the southern example. Why some persist in believing in magical differences (and that’s what they are) between one side of an invisible line and the other, why that’s why we try to teach history and critical thought, I guess.

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pettyburgess - December 1, 2020

You are doing two very strange things with this comparison.

Firstly, you are assuming that a full century of partition and the existence of NI as a very peculiar social formation has had no significant effect on the culture or self conception of Northern Protestants. That is, you skip from the more or less reasonable assumption that Protestants in Monaghan and Fermanagh were culturally similar in 1920 to the idea that Protestants in Fermanagh in 2020 believe/act/behave in similar ways to Protestants in Monaghan in the 1920s. To put it mildly that seems like a very big assumption. Is it not quite likely that a century of Northern Ireland has brought important change as compared to a period when the “Ulsterisation” of Irish Unionism was a novel strategic departure aimed at evading home rule?

Secondly, you take absolutely no account of the different external circumstances surrounding Protestants in Monaghan in 1922 and those which would surround Protestants in Tyrone faced with a United Ireland. Monaghan Protestants numbered around 20% of the local population, somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 people (the 1911-1926 population drop makes it hard to be precise) in a very rural setting. They were fully aware, what’s more, that they were one of the main concentrations of Protestants in the Free State and that elsewhere numbers were much smaller. There would have been a tremendous sense of marginality and vulnerability. Tyrone Protestants by contrast a century later would be well aware of their situation on the periphery of a vastly larger Protestant population, concentrated in the North East of the island in a more or less contiguous bloc. The same pressures to accept and adapt or leave simply would not be there.

Saying this is not to predict that therefore endless sectarian violence would be inevitable. There are many different shapes and forms that cultural, political or communitarian distinctiveness can take without that. But it seems highly complacent to assume that once the imperialist “blank cheque” is withdrawn that things will proceed much as they did in the Free State. The British laboured long and hard to create a coherent Protestant political/cultural bloc. But once it has been created, it exists and can’t just be turned off again at their whim.

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EWI - December 1, 2020

That is, you skip from the more or less reasonable assumption that Protestants in Monaghan and Fermanagh were culturally similar in 1920 to the idea that Protestants in Fermanagh in 2020 believe/act/behave in similar ways to Protestants in Monaghan in the 1920s. To put it mildly that seems like a very big assumption.

The Protestants in 2020 directly hark back in terms of ideology to a century ago as their foundational stance, and Protestants who actually live(d) in Ireland are by far our best indicator as to how that population might react to ‘Northern Ireland’ (which is from the British perspective the remnants of the old colonial model in Ireland) finally going away.

We have three Ulster counties here in the real world to compare to the other six as to how the end of the British presence works out, and it’s odd to see such contortions being employed in an effort to pretend otherwise.

Percentages in individual counties have had nothing at all to do with either my argument or with how history unfolded (Tyrone, Fermanagh, Derry city and Newry were all majority Catholic!). Not least given that ‘counties’ are not uniform bodies but obviously rather a series of communities, as the demographic maps produced for the Boundary Commission illustrate so well. But thank you for the effort at building that strawman.

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pettyburgess - December 1, 2020

Ah, yes, now I see clearly that taking any account of historical or cultural change over the period of a century spent in a very unusual state is a contortion. And taking any account of the different range of choices available to a group of a million occupying a relatively densely populated and contiguous area as compared to a much more scattered minority, amounting in the case of the three Ulster counties, to perhaps 50,000 people, is a contortion.

It would be much better to abstract the Protestant from historical development and social context entirely. In fact let us assume a perfectly spherical Protestant…

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EWI - December 1, 2020

It would be much better to abstract the Protestant from historical development and social context entirely. In fact let us assume a perfectly spherical Protestant…

I refer you to your studied pretence above that the Orange and Protestant farmers of today are wholly different from their Orange and Protestant grandfathers and great-grandfathers, and in a worse (not better) direction.

The steady polling drift across to ambiguity and even the unity column tells the tale, unhappily for earnest theorists on the shape of Protestants such as yourself.

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pettyburgess - December 1, 2020

There’s no “studied pretence” involved in thinking that assuming a perfect identity of the culture, self-conception, interrelationships or strategic choices of any significant demographic group over the period of a century is misguided. And even more so when that century involved partition, the peculiarities of the Northern Irish state and its culture, the cohering of more distinct regionalisms etc. For that to make sense you have to assume an abstract Protestant, concerned across time and space only with “supremacism”, otherwise immutable yet always on the edge of abandoning that “supremacism” for quietism as soon as Britain gives the nod. I don’t think that particular essentialism is very enlightening.

In fact, I don’t think that any group in Ireland is culturally and politically identical to their counterparts in 1920. I don’t therefore think that my take on what some subset of them did in a particular context in the 1920s is a reliable guide to what a different subset of them would do in a different context a century later. Your “proof” amounts to saying that if we ignore all social, historical and political developments in an entire century and if we also ignore all demographic context and the different strategies open to a concentrated group of a million as compared to a much smaller and more scattered minority, the 1920s Free State is a perfect guide to future behaviour.

Thinking that your examples tell us very little does not imply that any group is “wholly different” from their forebears. That’s a very silly binary opposition. There are continuities and breaks, preexisting influences and newer developments. And I’ve never implied that all change is monodirectional.

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EWI - December 1, 2020

In fact, I don’t think that any group in Ireland is culturally and politically identical to their counterparts in 1920. I don’t therefore think that my take on what some subset of them did in a particular context in the 1920s is a reliable guide to what a different subset of them would do in a different context a century later.

Your argument appears to be that no models are viable, even when here they track as close as we can possibly get in the real world to the conditions we want to test for.

Fine, then; I’m happy to call it quits with you pleading ignorance, and to pretend that you’re arguing from good faith.

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pettyburgess - December 1, 2020

I’m not arguing that no models can be of use. I’m arguing that your particular examples are of not of the use you claim. I’m not even arguing that they are of no interest whatsoever, but to make use of them would require some interest in teasing out what is different and what is the same. You don’t really seem to have any curiosity about that though, to the extent that you don’t seem to be able to imagine anyone not simply accepting your claims at face value without assuming that they are arguing in bad faith. Given that, there doesn’t seem to be much point in continuing the discussion.

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8. Paul Culloty - December 1, 2020

Fintan thinks the trans campaign is being endorsed by the patriarchy to undermine feminism:

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pettyburgess - December 1, 2020

A truly repulsive piece, accepting the frame pushed by obsessive transphobes in Britain that there is a conflict between trans rights and feminism and deploying it in a country where every established feminist organisation, from the most conservative to the most radical, is trans inclusive.

There is of course more than one reason for the Irish Times to try to import this poisonous “debate” into the discourse here. The cynical one is that they believe that it will drive clicks. The one that is likely more immediately relevant to people like Ingle and O’Toole is simple guild solidarity. When the newspaper columnist sees one of their fellows in conflict with angry social media peasants who don’t even hold down a single opinion writing sinecure, they know instinctively what side they are on. Ingle can see herself in a Moore, O’Toole himself in an Ingle. They can fully imagine the horror of 300 mostly junior staff, most of them with jobs that have something to do with computers or distribution or other lower caste nonsense, taking it upon themselves to write an impertinent letter complaining that their paper shouldn’t be producing the kind of editorial content that causes trans employees to feel that they can’t work there any more. They find it rather harder to imagine the lives of those trans employees.

There is above all a concern that newspaper columnists should be able to exercise their right of free speech without that resulting in others using their right of free speech to criticise them for it. When a newspaper columnist just asks questions about the rights of marginalised groups, that’s a brace stand against suffocating orthodoxies. When that lowers then in the regard of others, that’s a great injustice.

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oliverbohs - December 1, 2020

The mother said to me out of the blue this morning what a pity it was about Robert Fisk dying, comparing unfavourably the O`Tooles of this world to him. Wd hope that “opinion writers” as hustlers, not to be compared to real reporters, is a view that can be universal 😆

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WorldbyStorm - December 1, 2020

Dismal column by FO’T.

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pettyburgess - December 1, 2020

On the other hand, fair play to Una Mullally, not someone I reliably agree with, for being the only prominent journalist and certainly the only IT writer, to break ranks with commentariat solidarity and say that this stuff is bad. She is of course also the only IT opinion spouter to have an organic connection to the feminist movement here.

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WorldbyStorm - December 1, 2020

I have the same problems with a lot of her analysis which really aligns too cosily with the middle class nostrums of the IT audience, but that is good to hear.

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9. Paul Culloty - December 1, 2020

On a related theme:

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