No Reason To Disown

Tonight The Pensive Quill carries a piece by guest writer Alfie Gallagher which poses some questions to revisionist writing

In an article in the Irish Times recently, the journalist Chris Ryder called for a public memorial to the Royal Irish Constabulary. Though Ryder’s article is measured, it reminded me of the long-running “revisionist” campaign being waged by many public figures, notably Kevin Myers and Eoghan Harris, to rehabilitate the image of British rule in Ireland.  Apart from this, Ryder’s article brought to mind my own ancestors. One of my great-grandfathers was a member of the RIC; another was an IRA volunteer. I am told that both men were decent and honourable. However, my sympathies lie with the man who fought for an Irish republic.

Although the so-called revisionist movement began as opposition to the Provisional IRA, its adherents now question the legitimacy of the Easter Rising and the War of Independence.  They argue that armed conflict between Ireland and Britain was unnecessary because Home Rule had been passed in 1914. However, this analysis is problematic. For one thing, the version of Home Rule on offer entailed the partition of Ireland, which was opposed by the majority of its citizens.  Of course, the 1916 Rising was not democratically sanctioned either, but this must be seen in the context of the British government's anti-democratic refusal to grant 32-county Home Rule during the previous 30 years. Another problem with the revisionist analysis is, as Brian Hanley argues, its failure “to appreciate the contrast between what Home Rule meant in reality and what in meant in the minds of its supporters.”  In essence, ordinary Irish nationalists took Home Rule to mean independence and, even before 1916, most of them were not opposed in principle to using military means to achieve it. Nationalists celebrated the centenary of the 1798 rebellion and many were prepared to fight a civil war against the Ulster Volunteers to secure Home Rule. Indeed, it seems the objection that Home Rulers had to armed resistance against British rule was not that it was immoral, but simply that it was unlikely to succeed. In any case, Home Rule was a far cry from meaningful independence. To F.S.L. Lyons, it was “little more, indeed, than glorified local government”. That was much less than what John Redmond and his supporters desired, and much less than the significant degree of independence won for the 26 counties by the IRA’s guerrilla war of 1919-21.

It is unlikely that the British would have conceded independence at that time without a fight. Their reaction to the result of the 1918 general election suggests this much.  When the uncontested Irish constituencies in that election are taken into account, it is clear that a majority of the electorate in Ireland supported Sinn Féin, a party that promised to secure an Irish republic “by any and every means available”. The British ignored this mandate for a republic and the RIC sided with them. I believe the RIC was wrong.

In fact, the RIC was wrong on many things. The force was never very popular, particularly in rural areas. This is not surprising, for RIC officers participated in tens of thousands of evictions in the mid-nineteenth century. Moreover, when Irish tenant farmers began to agitate in the 1870s in order to better their position and gain ownership of their lands, the RIC stood with the British against them. Chris Ryder himself concedes that many Irish people saw the RIC as “an instrument of the exploitative absentee landlords and the British administration” rather than as the police force of the Irish people. As Brian P. Murphy argues, it is simply inaccurate to compare them with the Garda Síochána of today. The RIC was armed and it had a military ethos. More importantly, according to Murphy, its officers were involved in political policing well before the violence of 1916:

 [E]ven before the introduction of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) in August 1914, the RIC, as part of their normal duties, reported on the political activities of Irish citizens. After the introduction of the DORA, these reports were used, in co-operation with the army, to subject Irish citizens to trial by court-martial and to deportation without trial by civil law.

This practice intensified in 1918 and Murphy argues that the British administration in Ireland had effectively become “a military-style regime” prior to the first shots of the War of Independence being fired in 1919. Thus, it seems the job of the RIC was to pacify the Irish rather than to protect them.

I have no difficulty commemorating my great-grandfather Michael Gallagher and the other members of the RIC. By all accounts, he was a good man; I am sure many others in the force were as well. Yet it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the RIC was more a British police force than an Irish one. At almost every turn in Irish history, RIC officers took the part of the British establishment against their fellow countrymen. Nevertheless, I do not have any objection to a public memorial to the RIC. However, I do object to the campaign to delegitimise the contribution of my other great-grandfather, Dominic O’Grady, who fought for meaningful independence for this country. The modern Irish republic is the fruit of the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence. I see no reason to disown these rebellions or the republicans who fought in them.

65 comments:

  1. Alfie,

    a balanced and thoughtful piece

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  2. Alfie,

    I enjoyed reading this article. For me it is both challenging and self confirming.

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  3. Unfortunately,there is no modern Irish Republic.There is only the Republic of 1918 which was driven underground in 1922,leaving us with the Free State and Stormont regimes.The Republic has yet to be reestablished.

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  4. Alfie-

    If your history story is that both of those men from your family tree
    were decent and honourable then that should be good enough-

    different sides- im sure that in every war ever fought there was decent and honourable men and women in each camp- its just that those were the people who were in the front line-

    Thanks for sharing Alfie- God knows what the family tree will say about your good self in 100 years time [ i say that in a good way ]

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  5. Thought provoking, enjoyable piece.

    Perhaps we shouldn't be too hard on those who were in the 'crown' forces of the time. Did not many former soldiers return to join the flying columns? Also, where would Collins have been without Nelligan and Broy?

    Many second sons who were not inheriting the family half acre and who either didn't fancy or couldn't afford an 'American wake' decided the RIC was a secure option.

    I know one man who survived Dunkirk + D-DAY only to suffer a heart attack and die doing vigilante in his old age in Armagh, trying to ensure 'loyalists' didn't burn the street down.

    Life and politics are not black and white. But a great article, and an interesting subject.

    Myers and his ilk give me the shits. There are sufficient numbers who faught in WW1+2 from the South whose families should be respected , but the reality of how the 26 Counties were liberated should not be removed from any cariculum. What was done in the 26 counties since needs serious disecting though!

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  6. Alfie,
    my great-grandfather was also an RIC man and I certainly would not want a monument to commerate him.
    He may have been an alright person By all accounts he was a very intelligent and capable man, therefore he was well aware of what he was joining and upholding here.

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  7. John,

    "Unfortunately,there is no modern Irish Republic. There is only the Republic of 1918"

    That kind of intransigence gets republicans nowhere. It flies in the face of the reality that is the 26-county republic. We would prefer it to be a 32-county one, but the majority of our elected leaders accepted the partitionist compromise of the Treaty in 1922 and no electorate since then has ever endorsed a party that implicitly or explicitly advocated an armed campaign to end partition.

    Of course, one can argue that the first Dáil did not have an explicit mandate to go to war against Britain either. However, given the British government's disregard of the mandate for a republic in 1918 and its suppression of the Dáil after some sporadic attacks on the RIC in 1919, I think the Dáil executive were well within their rights to take informal responsibility for the developing conflict and take leadership roles in the IRA. Furthermore, the Sinn Fein manifesto for the 1918 general election uses very militant language, envoking the 1916 rising, "the principles of Tone, Emmet, Mitchel, Pearse and Connolly", and promising "to render impotent the power of England to hold Ireland in subjection" by "any and every means available". Thus I find it hard to believe that the electorate who endorsed this manifesto were utterly opposed to further conflict if it proved to be necessary.

    No such appetite exists today however. Even if it did, the armed campaigns of the past failed to fully remove the British from Ireland, so another campaign would most likely be futile. If republicanism is to have a future, it must find a peaceful way forward without compromising its basic principles.

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  8. Michael,

    "God knows what the family tree will say about your good self in 100 years time"

    Probably that I ate, drank and talked too much!!!

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  9. Anthony,

    Not sure about the article being balanced. In hindsight, I think I could have been less severe on the RIC. In some ways, what I wrote implies that I would have approved of my great-grandfather's execution. This would have left my grandfather, Alfie Gallagher Sr., fatherless. It is ironic that he and his brother Pat became staunch republicans. Indeed, Pat was most likely a PIRA volunteer, for he had an IRA funeral.

    I stand over the article, but what Larry says is true: history is rarely black and white.

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  10. Alfie, Thomas Og MacCurtain once said"Violence no longer is,or ever was,the most convienent way,the most comfortable way or the most comforting way.Violence is the only way.You say'Times have changed',but have they really changed that much?".Times have not changed,there is still British occupation of Ireland,there are still men and women being sentenced to British,Northern and Free State jails,often on the the flimsiest of excuses.Internment is back.The Free State is not the Republic,if we accept it as such,then we are saying that all those Republicans who died since 1921 were wrong and basically died for nothing.Cait Traynor of RSF said "We have a mandate going back to 1798,we do not need the public to rubber stamp the Republican Movement".Armed struggle,if nothing else,gives us the ability to say this is our land,we want it back.It keeps the Irish from being squatters in their own country.Nothing has ever been achieved through constitutional politics and nothing ever will be.Once the country is free,then we can speak of democratic majorities,but Ireland needs her freedom first.

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  11. Great writing Alfie that will obviously develop into a welcomed and interesting exchange.

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  12. John
    would you advocate your son giving his life for someone like Charlie Haughey or Bertie Ahern and their cronies to shaft the place?

    Or to the likes of Adams and McGuinness who took a military outfit and ran it deliberately into the ground so they could squat in Gerry Fitt's house?

    All that talk of 1798 in 2011 is the dog chasing a horse+cart that has become a motorcar, but the dog still sees a horse + cart.

    I recall a term oft quoted 'Labour must wait' and we got charlie and bertie swindlers albion instead.

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  13. Larry,I would hope that if my son or daughter died for Ireland,my attitude would be the same as Sean Keenan's.Throughout Ireland's history we have examples of weak willed and treacherous collaborators,Collins,Griffith,De Valera,Goulding,Garland,Adams and McGuinness.We also have shining examples of true Irishmen and Irishwomen who we take our inspiration from."It is charged that we pay more heed to the words of dead heroes than we do to living leaders.We accept that charge as a compliment...Comparisons between the statements of aim of living readers and the writings and speeches of dead heroes is the only way to make certain that the living pursue the aims of the dead.We want to make sure,to echo the words of Pearse,that they are preaching the same gospel rather than perhaps a saner and a wiser gospel".Time and time again we here how physical force has failed to free Ireland.Yet,what is never mentioned is that every small thing we have ever obtained from England has been through physical force.Without the compromise and treachery of the past,Ireland would be free today.Freedom will not come from the Free State,the Stoops and the Provisionals with all their talk of parity of esteem.Freedom will come from the actions of Ireland's sons and daughters.I ask you what has constitutional politics ever achieved for the Irish,besides a total loss of self respect and royal visits?

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  14. John,

    "Violence is the only way."

    Thirty years of near daily Provo violence achieved nothing but power-sharing. What makes you think that killing a PSNI officer every couple of years will force the British to leave?

    "Times have not changed."

    As the cases of Gerry McGeough, Marian Price and Brendan Lillis have shown, there is still some injustice in Northern Ireland. However, it is nowhere near the levels of the 1960s and 70s. Internment is not back. The vast majority of nationalists do not feel oppressed and are content with the status quo.

    "The Free State is not the Republic,if we accept it as such,then we are saying that all those Republicans who died since 1921 were wrong and basically died for nothing."

    I think their actions were wrong, but not their beliefs. It could be argued that they did indeed die for nothing.

    "Cait Traynor of RSF said "We have a mandate going back to 1798..."

    She is not living in the real world.

    "Once the country is free,then we can speak of democratic majorities,but Ireland needs her freedom first."

    What if the Irish people don't want your version of "freedom"?

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  15. John
    If your brutally honest and Adams / McGuiness had been killed somewhere in the last 40 years then you wouldn't have had to change your Blogg at all. You would just be inserting them in the other paragraph.

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  16. Peadar,you are right.However,they were not killed by Ireland's enemies,instead,they have become Ireland's enemies.

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  17. John
    my angle was not the righteousness or heroism of patriot dead. I was wondering in a free 32 county Ireland would it be worth your own childs life to see turds like Haughey+Ahern running what he died for?

    Accentuate the positive. People seem content. Even with the IMF in the house and on the dole, my fridge is full.

    I'm doing a degree at 48yrs of age wheras in many countries that would be impossible. Although once I graduate I'm getting on a plane.

    Things don't change. SF are not getting on planes unless going to the whitehouse. So at least the deaths were worth it in their eyes.

    Another round of military failure will result in the same. Save our kids the trouble, BUILD BIGGER PLANES.

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  18. John,

    ‘The Free State is not the Republic.’

    It is to most people in it. They won’t have the Republic deferred until such times as the North agrees to come in.

    ‘Cait Traynor of RSF said "We have a mandate going back to 1798, we do not need the public to rubber stamp the Republican Movement".

    That means it is a law onto itself. No society will allow that licence.

    ‘Armed struggle, if nothing else, gives us the ability to say this is our land, we want it back.’

    That can be said without armed struggle.

    ‘Once the country is free, then we can speak of democratic majorities, but Ireland needs her freedom first.’

    But Ireland has to decide what it wants to be free from. And it seems it wants to be free from republican armed struggle.

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  19. Alfie,
    I re-read your article and for the life of me I cannot work out why anyone would want to commemorate the infamous RIC.
    Revisionism must have kicked in with full throttle because someone somewhere forgot to mention all the brutal murders of republicans and innocent civilians the RIC plotted and actively took part in.
    More British than Irish, they were as blacker than their RIC boots, and then you wonder why people took up arms against them.
    Nothing has changed here and the fact that we are being asked to commemorate a disgraced police force who engaged in wanton acts of violence and murder only serves to highlight that.
    Most right thinking people in America would be horrified if someone suggested a monument to the KKK, but its okay for the Irish.
    An apology and a memorial to their victims might be a lot more fitting.

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  20. The Dublin government would probably be happy to put a monument up to ALL victims provided they can turn their back on it and skip off back to Brussels for the next round of free cash once the dust from this latest mess has settled.

    2011 ding dong...it's 2011.. we can't go back to vinigar hill, the cabbage patch or kinsale even.

    Those leaving the country now are not the cottier class, they are the educated and trades people. Does that resonate after 90 add years of 'freedom'??

    There's jobs going in New Zealand [another Commonwealth nation accepting the needy Irish ] and I'm certain thousands will avail, behave themselves, pay their taxes and do themselves proud when they go. THAT'S for ranger 1640 if he's about.

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  21. Alfie,

    ‘That kind of intransigence gets republicans nowhere. It flies in the face of the reality that is the 26-county republic. We would prefer it to be a 32-county one, but the majority of our elected leaders accepted the partitionist compromise of the Treaty in 1922 and no electorate since then has ever endorsed a party that implicitly or explicitly
    advocated an armed campaign to end partition.’

    That’s what the Irish people have opted for. However, very few even talk in that archaic republican language any more. Even those who still believe in using arms couch their argument in terms that don’t make people switch off instantly.

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  22. Alfie,
    I am with Fionnuala on this one. Your relative reminds me of the Jew in Auschwitz who obtained special privileges by collaborating with the camp authorities against his fellow prisoners. He deserves no monument.

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  23. John

    'We also have shining examples of true Irishmen and Irishwomen who we take our inspiration from. "It is charged that we pay more heed to the words of dead heroes than we do to living leaders. We accept that charge as a compliment ... Comparisons between the statements of aim of living readers and the writings and speeches of dead heroes is the only way to make certain that the living pursue the aims of the dead. We want to make sure, to echo the words of Pearse, that they are preaching the same gospel rather than perhaps a saner and a wiser gospel".'

    Not for me. Are you seriously asking us to go for what is less sane and less wise because some dead person did likewise? Anybody who claimed ‘Bloodshed is a cleansing and sanctifying thing ... the old heart of the earth needed to be warmed by the red wine of the battlefield' is not someone who can pass as a poster boy for sanity. The people of Ireland have every right to be free from that mentality.

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  24. Adams was calling for a united Ireland at Calough in commemoration of the hunger-strikers. He says there is now a possibility to gain a united Ireland through persuasion and it's our duty to do so.

    I'm near certain that the 1921 settlement allowed for a united Ireland if the unionists desired it. Maybe I'm wrong?

    Good to know 30 years of madness was needed for Adams to take the time to read and accept the 1921 settlement.

    I think we have enough monuments and enough wankers slobbering shite at them.

    A commenter under the news report of Adams suggested he + De Valera find a nice wee crossroads for a chat in Irish about comely maidens while the country crumbles around us. Sooner that arsehole is with Dev the better.

    Article next to the Camlough one was about Gerry's brother Liam fearing for a fair trial.

    He better hope Gerry aint the judge!! Gerry made a speach saying 'I HAD A DREAM' lets hope it wasn't the same one as Liam's.

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  25. Nuala,

    I am not sure that the state ought to fund a monument to the RIC. However, I would have no objection to a privately-funded monument. One could make the argument that an official state monument to the RIC, like the one commemorating the Irishmen who fought for Britain in the two world wars, would be a gesture of goodwill to the people on this island who consider themselves British. Like Enda Kenny's recent denunciation of the Vatican, it might make them more amenable to a united Ireland.

    Ryan,

    Do you really think that Ireland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was comparable to Auschwitz in the 1940s? Of course, we were being denied self-determination then, but we were not being exterminated.

    My great-grandfather Michael Gallagher took a job in a colonial police force. He may have been wrong to do this, but it was the only way he could stay in Ireland and provide for his family. By all accounts, he was very good to the local community. I am told that he helped some young IRA volunteers avoid capture after a local IRA leader with whom they had argued informed on them. This act (or his popularity with locals) may well have saved his life, for my father tells me that a group of volunteers came to Michael's home one night and were about to kill him only to be stopped from doing so when a more senior IRA man who knew my great-grandfather arrived on the scene.

    Perhaps my great-grandfather was wrong not to have resigned from the RIC after the British ignored Sinn Féin's mandate from the 1918 general election and subsequently suppressed the Dáil. On the other hand, he might have lost his pension if he did so and then he may not have been able to put his six children through university. Even today, there are many of us who, when asked to choose between our country and our family, always choose the latter.

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  26. Alfie,

    I think you were right to deal with that comment ‘Violence is the only way’ as you did. It is like an earlier comment that CIRA is the way forward. There is a serious need for all republicans to engage with what is rather than dream on. Anybody who believes armed struggle is strategically necessary is not going to be taken in the slightest seriously if they insist that CIRA is the way forward. It has long been regarded as the Comedy IRA.

    As for times not having changed, it is true insofar as there has been no diminution of British sovereignty. But the conditions that give rise to the Provisional IRA had little to do with a lack of Irish unity.

    ‘What if the Irish people don't want your version of "freedom"?’

    This always goes to the heart of the paradox of armed republicanism and often makes its advocates sound like a priesthood. It is self defeating to call for the freedom of the Irish people and then tell them ‘but you cannot be free from us. We shall tell you how it is and dare you defy us.’ What is being promoted and protected here is not Irish freedom but the wish of a small group to tell the Irish people that they can have no say in deciding what they should be free from.

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  27. Alfie

    'Even today, there are many of us who, when asked to choose between our country and our family, always choose the latter'.

    Absolutely correct. I'd say quite a few people looking at where Adams and co. are today, would pat you on the back there.

    Being Irish didn't necessitate a blinkered political viewpoint,or even a republican one.

    My granda liberated some of the concentration camps in a British army uniform. He was a better Irish man than some of the people I met in the H-Blocks.

    CIRA + RIRA have given the PSNI a major headache in recent times; namely, how to lift their weapons without arresting a tout, coz the majority of them are. A JOKE.

    To put it another way, no one need Adams' or any other gobshites permission to be Irish. You certainly don't have to be killing people to be Irish.

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  28. Larry,

    All things considered, I think the armed actions of 1916-21 - however unpalatable - were legitimate. After 1922, no Irish electorate has given a majority endorsement to a party that implicitly or explicity advocated further armed actions, or who were willing to declare a 32-county republic. By and large, the people supported those that were willing to work within the partionist framework to achieve unity. I do not agree with 2 states on this island, but an armed campaign against partition must have popular support and must have a reasonable chance of succeeding. Probably no campaign other than the War of Independence met these criteria, though I would argue that the 1916 Rising was understandable and perhaps even justifiable in the context in which it occurred.

    I must say, Larry, that your nuanced views on Irish history and politics are very admirable given that you have endured the oppression of the H-Blocks.

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  29. Ryan,

    I think all Jews see the camp Kapos in the same way. I am not so sure the Irish are so monolithic in their view of the RIC. And then there are mitigating factors in this particular case.

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  30. Alfie
    There are many different shades of political opinion in any country. I don't want to live in a fascist state run by a few nutters.

    It was an individual choice for anyone getting involved in the troubles. Jail was a doddle, by the time I experienced it the boys had secured defacto 'status'. Cheers mackers, the snooker table, multy gym, weights, 11 a side football and all the other stuff was great.

    Tho there are easier ways to get away from the wife!!

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  31. AM-

    Patrick H Pearse wrote The red wine of the battlefields about the slaughter that was happening in Belgium during world war 1-

    There can be no doubt that at that
    time Patrick Pearse would have read
    in the dublin papers and heard from the local chat of the dublin and Irish casualtys from across the world at that time- some of those dead would have been those he grew up with-went to school with and even those he teached- even those who were in the movement before they went to fight for catholic Belgium-

    There is always poetic licence- But i am sure Pearse would rather those Irish to fight and live or die for Ireland- such was life then-

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  32. Larry Hughes: "I was wondering in a free 32 county Ireland would it be worth your own childs life to see turds like Haughey+Ahern running what he died for?"

    Although Anthony pointed out the important paradox of democratic support and the legitimacy of violence I think your point should be more relevant to Republicans today.

    No matter how many people debate the legitimacy of armed Republicanism with regards to a mandate the possibility of having a corrupt greedy government who use graft and Golden Circles and who create unsustainable tax havens and an unregulated economy, who rob the poor and give to the rich are a more real and visible paradox for Republicans today.

    Why fight with a philosophical or legal or democratic right at all if all you end up with is an anathema to Republicanism?

    “If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle., unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs”. - James Connolly

    Why take life or go to prison if all you create is a bigger trough for the politicians?

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  33. Simon,

    I understand why Connolly thought that his brand of socialism was the answer to all our ills. Indeed, if I had been his contemporary, I would have thought it too. But everywhere pure socialism has been practiced, it has failed. We need some sort of a market - however regulated - for society to function.

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  34. Simon
    'Why take life or go to prison if all you create is a bigger trough for the politicians?'

    You nailed it...period.

    Alfie.

    The land issue was the priority for the people in the 19th century. The IRB were against a settlement of the land question because it would remove their best vehicle/catalyst for pushing the national agenda. Bit like the provos using the civil rights movement in the late 1960s.

    Many of the leading political figures and land league spokesmen, in attacking graziers and landowners were talking about themselves. There was a two faced complexion about it all.

    The small farmers of the west gained next to nothing from the land-war and the protestant estate owners escaped ruin by selling the Irish their own land back. We now have the provos in STORMONT.

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  35. Alfie

    Like you I see no particular reason for the state to have a monument to the RIC. At the same time if private groups wish to do so they should be free and there should be no desecration.

    If those who consider themselves British in this island would appreciate a monument they should be allowed to erect one. The state doing it as an gesture of goodwill would find it hard to escape the accusation that it was conveying legitimacy on the role played by the RIC on the part of the British. The State should stand back.

    I think Ryan’s point was only for reasons of comparison not to suggest that the Holocaust was on a par with our own experience in the Tan War.

    As for your great grandfather who ‘helped some young IRA volunteers avoid capture after a local IRA leader with whom they had argued informed on them’ that will have Marty McGuinness labelling him a traitor!

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  36. Alfie- I agree that we need some sort of market but I was using Connolly's prescience to illustrate that it is no good fighting for something that in the end will not help the people as a whole. Sink or swim capitalism, graft and corruption, or similar.

    Capitalism makes the gap between rich and poor even bigger and there is not much trickle-down benefit. Look at America where 95% of the wealth is in the hands of the top 1% of the population.

    A market certainly but a fairer system, definitely.

    But my point was just to illustrate the futility of fighting for future corruption, greed and largesse.

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  37. Alfie,
    first of all, I apologise for not initially commenting on how much I enjoyed reading this piece.
    However, I could never got along with the idea of a monument state funded or otherwise to the RIC.
    How amenable are we Irish now expected to be? The RIC engaged in a murderous campaign against nationalists and republicans.
    They carried out murders in the Clonard area and wiped out an entire family in North Belfast.
    Alfie, there are many many people who believe there was a mass and prolonged campaign of extermination against the Irish.

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  38. Michaelhenry,

    A most thoughtful response. Yet my sentiment is with Connolly on this one.

    ‘We do not think that the old heart of the earth needs to be warmed with the red wine of millions of lives. We think anyone who does is a blithering idiot’.

    Right or wrong, I agree with him.

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  39. Fionnuala
    I understand and agree with your assessment of the RIC in Belfast. However that is to pidgeonhole the social and ethnic make-up the force as a unionist/orange RIC throughout the 32 counties. Simply not the case.

    The green book forbade military action against the free state forces, so the IRA, before Adams and McGuinness sold it, saw the difference.

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  40. Life exists beyond the M1 roundabout out of Belfast.

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  41. Alfie

    Socialism has to be an ethically superior system to capitalism. But people have to be won to it rather than coerced into it and then barred from discussing it because the party decides it knows best.

    Simon,

    ‘Why take life or go to prison if all you create is a bigger trough for the politicians?’

    And what revolution has done anything else?

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  42. Yeah, and maybe it would be a good idea if you read up about some of that life Larry.
    Maybe it would be a good idea if you started with Croke Park, Bloody Sunday.

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  43. Simon & Anthony,

    Agreed. Free-market capitalism has failed. I believe in a left-wing alternative that is realistic but fair.

    Nuala,

    I argued in my article that the RIC failed to take the part of the Irish people at many key points in Irish history, such as the Famine, the Land War and the 1918 general election. But republicans fired the first shots in 1916 and 1919. You cannot really complain that RIC officers were "murdering" republicans given that the IRA were at war with the RIC at that time. Of course, the RIC and the British forces fought dirty, harassing, assaulting and often killing civilians, but the IRA's hands were not totally clean either. They often assassinated unarmed RIC officers, sometimes in front of their families.

    If the British planned to exterminate the Irish, then they certainly did a piss-poor job of doing it.

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  44. "I think Ryan’s point was only for reasons of comparison not to suggest that the Holocaust was on a par with our own experience in the Tan War."

    Yes, exactly. Let's just not forget the crimes perpetrated by the RIC-McMahon murders and others during the pogroms.
    Haha Larry, during my 2 year stay in Belfast I learned that there is life beyond the M1 roundabout for many Belfast people. There's Belfast, and then there's Majorca, Menorca, and Ibiza.

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  45. AM-

    " my sentiment is with Connolly on this one "

    I am sure most of us have our preferred martyrs- it is strange that both Pearse and Connolly who had such different personalitys were both given the brit death sentence at the same time- were both killed at the same wall at Kilmainham- were probably killed by the same men in those firing squads- and the same brit officer give the final head shot-both are also buried at Arbour hill- such is war-

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  46. Fionnuala

    'Yeah, and maybe it would be a good idea if you read up about some of that life Larry.
    Maybe it would be a good idea if you started with Croke Park, Bloody Sunday'.

    Those despicable RIC dirty dawgs must have been in disguise at Croker eh? How devious to adorn British Army uniforma and hilack a british army armoured car.

    Like the sun newspaper, never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Or in your case Fionnuala never get into the witness box!

    Ryan

    'Haha Larry, during my 2 year stay in Belfast I learned that there is life beyond the M1 roundabout for many Belfast people. There's Belfast, and then there's Majorca, Menorca, and Ibiza'.

    An unfortunate and funny, but common trait.

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  47. Larry,

    My understanding is that regular RIC men fired most of the shots in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday.

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  48. Alfie
    i stand corrected, i only ever saw british army in the movies...
    damned propogandists, it was the Irish doing it themselves then!?

    another hammer-blow...

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  49. still have a vision of a brit in a tank turret machine-gunning the crowd.
    must have been a parcel of lies...can't believe anything anymore. I'm devestated.

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  50. Simon,

    ‘But my point was just to illustrate the futility of fighting for future
    corruption, greed and largesse.’

    Agreed. But should socialism be pursued and if so how?

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  51. Larry,

    "Still have a vision of a brit in a tank turret machine-gunning the crowd.Must have been a parcel of lies."

    That was how the massacre was portrayed in the film Michael Collins. I don't think it happened quite like that. Apparently, the armoured car was outside the stadium and only fired into the air above the spectators as they fled. It was still a massacre though - 14 civilians were killed and about 70 more were injured. The commanding officer that day was British and a member of the Auxiliaries, but I think most of the Crown forces in Croke Park that day were Irishmen.

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  52. Anthony- I am a fervent believer in some sort of socialism. I would use Cuba, Venezuela, or Vietnam after 1975 as inspirations rather than China or the old USSR. But that comes with heavy caveats of no dictatorship, no police state, a strong human rights and environmental protection system in place and many other things. I know my examples breach some of these tenets but they are much better than most capitalist countries.

    I would be a supporter of free health care Cuban style (I know Ché may have been an inspiration there), a progressive prison system, free education and other social services that support people when they are down and give them a hand-up.

    Basically a state with social, environmental, economic and human rights which prizes shared responsibility and fraternity. Heavy tax on the very rich and much needed support for the poorest in our country and in other countries would be enforced.

    How to get it? People who are rich want to stay that way and less well off people are often happy to keep the dream alive so there is plenty of opposition. A new revolution with people from every age, class, creed and colour would be useful here. But that is as much a pipe-dream as my preferred state.

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  53. Michaelhenry

    'I am sure most of us have our preferred martyrs'

    I prefer Marty to be one!!!

    Simon,

    ‘I am a fervent believer in some sort of socialism.’

    But that is too vague to provide much in the way of inspiration.

    ‘I would use Cuba, Venezuela, or Vietnam after 1975 as inspirations rather than China or the old USSR.’

    So would I but there were serious limitations. I notice recently that Chomsky had a go at Chavez for compromising democracy.

    ‘But that comes with heavy caveats of no dictatorship, no police state, a strong human rights and environmental protection system in place and many other things.’

    I suppose we have to find a way to protect socialism from socialists. Once they get their hands on a vanguard party it is all down the plughole.

    ‘How to get it? People who are rich want to stay that way and less well off people are often happy to keep the dream alive so there is plenty of opposition. A new revolution with people from every age, class, creed and colour would be useful here. But that is as much a pipe-dream as my preferred state.’

    Much like the magical fly killer I guess, the problem as always is in catching the fly.

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  54. Anthony-

    I think we need one or two local, dedicated, outstanding, strong leaders who show deference to their followers in a postive way. I have found that even a large number of intelligent, well spoken figures of the calibre of Chomsky isn't enough to change the public mood in any overwhelmingly significant way.


    A Ché or a Bobby or a Pearse or a Connolly - that sort of charismatic influence for change would be welcome.

    I don't believe violence is the immediate answer as at least we can change our leaders through the ballot-box, many countries can't. A peaceful movement of revolution if that's possible would be preferable. A change of public mindset would be welcome.

    As for "some kind of socialism" the reason why I said such a vague statement is that, although I have an interest in politics, the different strains of socialism confuse me.

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  55. Simon

    socialism will be unlikely in Ireland. The people have many traits and the love of money is to the fore of them.

    A form of social democracy is likely as good as it will ever get.

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  56. Larry,

    I think you are right. But maybe these days even a form of social democracy is a pipe-dream.

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  57. Simon
    don't like to say it, but it might be the case that 'republicanism' and republican groups may be a turn off for people agitating on bread and butter and economic issues.

    The bagage and track record might repel support rather than enhance it. People may feel their grievances are being hi-jacked for other purposes.

    Genuine community initiatives aimed at community improvement could be the way forward. But political groups are tramping all over every minor issue jockeying for position. Sometimes the whole carry on is a turn off.
    SF certainly developed the demise of the republican struggle. That's over and done. Personally I have zero time for them because whilst hi-jacking the SDLP and becoming unionist, they still wrap themselves in the green flag. Unbelievable.
    SHAMELESS NORN IRON.

    Maybe people need to stop flogging a dead horse and formulate something new, strip self servers like SF of their pantamime clothes.
    In the meantime, just vote SDLP, they are still doing what they were set up to do, in an honest fashion.

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  58. Simon

    ‘maybe these days even a form of social democracy is a pipe-dream.’

    And society cannot afford it to be a pipe dream. In the absence of socialism, if social democracy goes where for the vulnerable?

    ‘I think we need one or two local, dedicated, outstanding, strong leaders who show deference to their followers in a postive way.’

    Where are they to come from? My experience has been that deference is shown to leaders and authority. Look where that took the republican struggle.

    ‘A Ché or a Bobby or a Pearse or a Connolly - that sort of charismatic
    influence for change would be welcome.’

    We pick from the ranks of those who died early. Are there no live examples?

    ‘A peaceful movement of revolution if that's possible would be preferable.’

    I agree but always ask ‘how?’

    ‘the different strains of socialism confuse me.’

    I believe Marx once said when socialism is propagated by the sects there is no socialism. I found it the greatest turn off. I felt the state must love the socialist sects because of the damage they do to socialism. Onlookers quickly move on to the next stage having watched the sects perform.

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  59. Anthony,

    "if social democracy goes where for the vulnerable?"

    I believe, North and South, we are heading towards a USA style of capitalism with fees for education, health, limited social funds etc, etc. We'll witness a widening of the gap between rich and poor. As for the vulnerable? They're up a certain creek without a certain instrument.

    I originally thought some intelligent, charismatic,contemporary leader of a high calibre is needed to articulate and give a face to the voice of socialism or Republicanism that would be relevant to today's Ireland.

    I believe there are many important voices out there but people tend to follow an ideology that has a figurehead.

    Perhaps you are right. Maybe if the range of voices of today got together they would be greater than the sum of their parts. This of course would be preferable as there wouldn't be any concentration of power.

    As for an individual I believe most important leaders for change tend to die before there time because they step on too many people's toes. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. for example.

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  60. No Reason To Disown

    Simon,

    Your bleak prognosis is one I share. The situation might be even worse than you outlined with even more dire consequences for the weakest. I don’t think we are in the eye of the storm yet even though the political class tells us we are on the road to recovery. The only opposition I can see is here in the South and it is limited.

    ‘As for an individual I believe most important leaders for change tend to die before their time because they step on too many people's toes.’

    Or before they have time to join the cosy club.

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  61. ‘As for an individual I believe most important leaders for change tend to die before their time because they step on too many people's toes.’

    Or before they have time to join the cosy club.

    NAIL ON PREVERBIAL HEAD!!

    As for Americanisation..if 'twiggy' Harney had got her way we would be there already.

    The health issues and others will be addressed eventually, FF in the news getting more pension hikes and benefits long after they've destroyed the place. I considered joining FF previously as an alternative to SF, boy was i confused!

    Todays social issues are not being moulded into a 'national' issue. The 'English' are not at fault for this mess, there's no hiding place for these scoundrels. People will be slow to react though, decades of cozyness and inactivity kills political muscles.

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  62. Anthony & Larry, Have you read "Ship of Fools" by Fintan O'Toole? It is eye-opening. You might think nothing would surprise you and you might be right but it is a worthwhile read.

    Fianna Fail and most of the other parties shafted the South big-time. "Ship of Fools" is limited in scope and includes many non-comparable statistics but is extremely interesting. It goes some way to persuade that there is no good reason to lobby for a United Ireland if the gombeen class rule. No good reason at all.

    Just removing the border for the sake of it is pointless.

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  63. Simon

    will check that book out. I've slowly but surely come to that conclusion and also that things will not change.

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  64. Simon,

    haven't read it.

    'It goes some way to persuade that there is no good reason to lobby for a United Ireland if the gombeen class rule. No good reason at all.'

    I would agree with that. I often think about what difference it would make to those in the North currently under London rule if they were tocome under Dublin rule. None worthwhile. There is nothing glorious about begging in Dublin. It could as easily be done in Belfast

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  65. Talking about leaders being stopped in their tracks when they step on people's toes this is what happens to an ordinary man in a wheelchair who protests against the new discriminatory education system.

    Disregard the idiotic interviewer asking a person who cannot move his own wheelchair questions like "Were you rolling towards the police?" and "Did you throw something?"

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11993680

    I know it happened last year but today it was explained that due to a 6 month limit on prosecutions nothing's going to happen to the police involved.

    Apologies for wandering too far off the blog path but it illustrates the authorities' intolerance towards alternative voices.

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