July 29, 2016

William Walker versus James Connolly


William Walker was a self educated shipyard worker from Belfast (apprenticed as a joiner in Harland and Wolff). Born in 1871 he founded and led the Independent Labour Party in that city. He died after a long illness in 1918.

July 27, 2016

America, land of the planters

A 1914 painting of the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony
I use the title ironically, since for zealous Irish republicans "planter" is the epithet and pejorative of choice for the unpersuadable and defiant unionists in Ireland. Yet, if Ireland's protestants are planters, what of America's white christians?

Christopher Hitchens said in a TV debate:
"It goes back as I said to the initial beginnings of Islamic fundamentalism. The first attack on this country was in 1788 by Muslims who said that, "The koran gives us the right to punish and enslave infidels.” That is Bin Laden’s ideology. Bin Laden wants the restoration of the Caliphate. The Caliphate is an empire, he’s pro-empire, not anti-imperialist… He’s for the banning of all music, all books, all philosophy. And this because he cares about the Palestinians? Any one who believes this is a fool."

July 25, 2016

The gael's Northern Ireland

A street I passed driving through Monaghan
When American's think of Britain, they think of Monty Python. When Irish republicans think of Britain, they think of the Famine and the Black and Tans.

July 19, 2016

Ireland's “Big, Mad Children” politicians


Roy Foster wrote in ‘Luck and the Irish - A Brief History of Change’:
"After one debate between suspicious DUP representatives and unbending northern nationalists the current BIA chairman (a businessman with links in North and South) expostulated, ‘It’s like dealing with children. Big, Mad Children.’ In this he probably reflected opinions that the mandarins in London and Dublin held in private, and that brought them closer together.”

July 11, 2016

The political orphaning of moderate unionism

NI Life And Times 2015

The unionist people are far ahead of unionist politics. I've written here that for all the madness there is much normality in Northern Ireland - there are Two Worlds in Northern Ireland. Alex Kane wrote that "people in Northern Ireland are much more liberal, laid back and genuinely cosmopolitan than the main unionist parties realise." Newton Emerson wrote:
"The political orphaning of moderate unionism has been a particular source of wonder and despair. 
What party represents the vast majority of unionists — those who are not Orangemen, bandsmen, gunmen, Bible-bashers, flag-flyers, bonfire-builders or all the other overlapping little constituencies that unionist politicians never dare to disappoint? What party can represent the 400,000 “garden centre” Protestants who refuse to vote, or appeal to any Catholic “economic unionists” who might just accept a British province that treated them with respect? How has such a substantial need for representation not been met for almost a century?"

July 06, 2016

Imagining if America and Ireland had stayed British

George Washington crosses the Delaware
John Bruton, former Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael wrote on his blog and in the Irish Times, 'Home rule could have led peacefully to independence'.

Dylan Matthews wrote on Vox.com, '3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake'.


July 05, 2016

The abstentionism of the Catholics from 20th Century Northern Ireland life


Newton Emerson wrote:
"For the first five decades of Northern Ireland’s existence, nationalism’s approach to Stormont was instinctively abstentionist. 
Is that instinct returning? The turnout in this week’s assembly election may be little different to last time’s 54 per cent but it masks a typical 3 per cent rise in unionist constituencies with an offsetting fall in nationalist constituencies."
In this post I wanted to consider the original abstentionist instinct. John Hume wrote in his famous 1964 letter to the Irish Times:

July 01, 2016

George Orwell on Ireland, Ctd


In a previous post I looked at George Orwell and his views on Ireland. Orwell viewed Ireland negatively - Catholic and authoritarian. George Orwell wrote in ‘Why Socialists Don’t Believe In Fun’, 1943:
"At this moment, for instance, the world is at war and wants peace. Yet the world has no experience of peace, and never has had, unless the Noble Savage once existed."

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