‘Rewriting Ireland’s History’ by Jessica McGrann

 

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As we are about to enter the centenary year of the Rising, the event which gave birth to the Irish Free State, the changes in attitudes since the half century anniversary based on the attitudes of the media are stark.

Britain is now the flavour of the day, helping out with the economic bailout as Cameron referred to as “helping a friend in need”.

Irish Nationalists in the north-east were left to the mercy of Unionism within the new gerrymandered state, but considered it a price worth paying for the freedom for the majority of the country, our country, or at least it was then.  So they could finally build the Irish Republic that its people fought and died for and in which their comrades in the new gerrymandered state played their part.

As I am sure was expected, unionism abused the power given to them through British occupation and by the 50th anniversary, the northern Gaels were on the sharp end of the stick from militant unionism. Even when this encroached into the Free State with the Dublin/Monaghan bombings  and British prime minister Harold Wilson had rounded up those responsible, Fine Gael chose instead to lie to the people and in fact facilitated the removal of all key evidence, which was what had been expected to happen by those responsible, who made no attempt to hide their identities.

Another 50 years have passed and once again we have Fine Gael in power and sure enough, the honesty to the people has not changed though capacity for its delivery has improved significantly via independent media.

This time the problem is with Sinn Fein providing a viable alternative option in the southern elections and having the gall to be using exclusively peaceful methods, having their finances visibly accountable and doing more to promote peace and reconciliation than any other grouping on these islands, removing the old sticks and therefore requiring new ones.

Now we are told that Sinn Fein are not actually a democratic party, but are being manipulated by no less than the IRA Army Council.

Yes, all decisions are made democratically by vote, but apparently before a vote is taken, each member has to go into a room first and be told what way to vote by a Godfather figure in the shadows that runs the show.

You might wonder, why go to that much bother, when the question is known in advance, surely there would be a much less obvious way of rigging a vote, especially if you were planning on inviting a Protestant minister as a simple gesture of good will towards unionists and to help understand if not necessarily agree with their thinking.

Or if you have more sense, how on earth can the state media get away with spouting such bullshit?

That is until you read coverage of the 1916 rising in today’s ever so independent media taken from a book by Professor Liam Kennedy of Queen’s University, Belfast

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/easter-rising/how-pearse-clarke-and-co-wrote-wrongs-into-irelands-history-34301082.html

Apparently, the Proclamation was a glorification of violence and the Rising was carried out by a bunch of Nazi supporters who gave insufficient attention to the quarter of the population of the island that was Irish unionist.

The book is called Unhappy The Land: The Most Oppressed People Ever, The Irish?

I am guessing the author draws the conclusion that the Irish are simply self-loathing, pessimists who actually oppressed ourselves.

33 Responses to ‘Rewriting Ireland’s History’ by Jessica McGrann

  1. neill January 1, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    Doing more than any other party to promote peace and reconciliation well since they caused most of the pain most people would say that’s only fair. Isn’t it strange that the people who have suffered most at their hands are the most disbelieving,

    • jessica January 1, 2016 at 2:54 pm #

      Not really neill.
      Until the post conflict cycle of condemnation and recrimination ends and a true process of reconciliation begins, anyone who has suffered on either side will relive the emotional traumas and we will risk the endurement and perpetuation of historic animosities.

    • Sherdy January 1, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

      Possibly you are not aware of the 60 years of pain caused by unionist misrule which actually were responsible for the ‘troubles’!

      • neill January 2, 2016 at 11:46 am #

        Aye and the Nationalist community got their own back during the troubles but surely two wrongs don’t make a right?

        • jessica January 2, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

          “Aye and the Nationalist community got their own back during the troubles but surely two wrongs don’t make a right?”

          Fighting back is not getting your own back neill.

          Republicans are still being demonised while state murders and atrocities are protected under the guise of national security.

          That isn’t remotely acceptable and as wrong as the act in the first place. It also means the conflict is not yet over and that is something we cannot allow to return. The truth MUST come out – it is not an option and we must fight for it as far and for as long as it takes.

        • Ryan January 2, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

          Neill, if I were to go into your house, wreck it, take whatever I want from it and then inflict violence upon you and your family, are you trying to say you would just sit there and do nothing? If I were to do that (though I would never) even I would expect at least a good punch in the face.

          I think it was Malcolm X that said: “If you put a man on a hot stove don’t be angry at what he says”.

          The fact is there was a large campaign of discrimination, sectarianism and gerrymandering by the Unionist government here for decades against Catholics. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Campaign was launched, a totally non-violent and peaceful organisation. The reaction, just like so many times before, was a brutal and vicious crackdown on the organisation from the Unionist Government, as well as the British Government turning a blind eye. Your are either extremely ignorant or delusional if you think that had nothing to do with the spiralling of violence here. Even the UN says violence is justified if you are being oppressed. That’s not to say everything the IRA/INLA/etc did was right.

          As I mentioned before the Unionist Government wanted a pogrom of Catholics, why else would it pay the UVF Leader to start a “sectarian war”? Why else would the UVF bomb areas of the Unionist state trying to frame the IRA? Remember, it wasn’t thousands of Protestant families fleeing over the border to refugee camps set up by the Irish Government. In any conflict, with any social problem in fact, you look at the CAUSE of conflict in order to resolve it and its bluntly clear who/what was the cause of the Troubles.

          It could also be argued that the likes of Ian Paisley Snr stopped the Troubles from ending far earlier. He sunk the Sunningdale agreement (which, ironically, gave lesser concessions to nationalists than the Good Friday Agreement did). True, the IRA didn’t support it but the vast majority of nationalists at that time supported the non- violent SDLP and not SF or the IRA. Of course Paisley had a lot of help from Loyalist paramilitaries in sinking Sunningdale but sure Paisley was against all violence…..*wink *wink…..

          BTW, in reply to your other comment Neill, I already did answer your question in reference to a United Ireland and convincing Unionism of its merits.

    • Ryan January 1, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

      “well since they caused most of the pain most people would say that’s only fair”

      Really Neill, really? Tell us how they caused the most pain and tell us what year you are starting from?

      I would love to know what History books you have been reading….

      • neill January 1, 2016 at 8:02 pm #

        Pose you a question Ryan obviously you want a united Ireland. Sf are the leading nationalist party now they supported a vicious campaign against their unionist neighbours which failed. Now SF are looking for a sizeable number of the afore mentioned community to vote with them for a united Ireland. Do you believe that they have even persuaded two percent of the Unionist community in the last 5 years that a united Ireland is the best future for them?

        • jessica January 2, 2016 at 12:57 am #

          “Now SF are looking for a sizeable number of the afore mentioned community to vote with them for a united Ireland.”

          That is a point of view neill, and not one I or many others would share.

          SF do not require a single unionist vote. Austerity does not respect political aspirations, at least not any more.

          They stand for all of the people on this island, regardless of their constitutional preferences. If unionism was not so afraid to stand up to Tories for fear they will kick them out of the UK, then perhaps all of our people would be better off.

          As it is, economic reality will play out and as the demographic shift kicks in, nationalists will have a 50% + 1 majority. Yes, there is a percentage of Catholics who currently prefer the union, so it is unionism who needs to convince them, not the other way around.

          Personally, I cannot think of a worse way to go about this.

          Would it not be better to get together and agree a new nation that will be to everyone’s advantage?

          • neill January 2, 2016 at 11:48 am #

            Sorry it was SF who buckled over benefit cuts Jessica if you cant get that right what’s the point of having a discussion with you?

          • jessica January 2, 2016 at 3:44 pm #

            “Sorry it was SF who buckled over benefit cuts Jessica if you cant get that right what’s the point of having a discussion with you?”

            We have bigger problems than benefit cuts neill. But refusing to discuss them and burying the head in the sand is of course the unionist approach to such matters.

        • Ryan January 2, 2016 at 1:20 am #

          Now if I answer this question will you have the courage to answer my original question Neill? I’ll repeat it in case you forget:

          Tell us how they caused the most pain and tell us what year you are starting from?

          ” Sf are the leading nationalist party now they supported a vicious campaign against their unionist neighbours which failed”

          I cant remember SF running a sectarian and anti-Catholic statelet Neill, that was Unionism, I think you have got mixed up there. Using discrimination and sectarian oppression is hardly the tools to use if you want to create a peaceful and equal society, and that’s not even touching on the Unionist political parties using the RUC and B-Specials (and later the UDR) as their own paramilitaries. Of course the UVF of the 1960’s also played a role (created a full 3 years before the existence of the PIRA) and I’m not just talking about filling up the ranks of the RUC/UDR, which the Orange Order encouraged. Gusty Spence, leader of the UVF, said he was paid by the Unionist Government to start a sectarian war. I could go on. If there was any vicious and failed campaign Neill, it was waged by political Unionism against Catholics/Nationalism with plenty of support.

          “Do you believe that they have even persuaded two percent of the Unionist community in the last 5 years that a united Ireland is the best future for them?”

          I’m not trying to persuade anyone of a United Ireland, Neill, people can make up their own minds. Do you believe Unionism has persuaded Nationalism the Union is the best place for their future? Do you think all those Orange parades, the behaviour of Unionist political parties, etc make nationalists comfortable? Sure you can point to a few opinion polls but I don’t take the views of papers run by Unionists seriously and anyone with an ounce of common sense and knowledge about politics knows how the media works and how its used to mix and stir in order to suit their agenda. Election results is all that matters.

          When it comes to Irish Unity I believe the events in Britain alone will have greater influence on what happens here, especially with the upcoming In-Out EU election and the fact Britain is becoming more and more federalized. That’s not even touching on fact Nationalism is becoming a majority here, if you compare political demographics here 20-30 years ago to what its like today you’ll see what I mean. Belfast City Hall being one stark example of change, once a Unionist Citadel (with not one nationalist mayor in this whole period) to one that is Nationalist/Alliance majority and which implements equality and rotates the Mayor role. Unionist majority towns/councils here still implement policies which exclude nationalists and its 2016, not 1916. Says a lot about who’s against equality and who isn’t, eh? I’m sure that’s really reaching out to nationalists and welcoming them to stay in the British Union….

          • jessica January 2, 2016 at 9:53 am #

            “When it comes to Irish Unity I believe the events in Britain alone will have greater influence on what happens here, ”

            I wonder would neill support a poll in England asking how many of their tax payers are ok with the 10 billion annual subvention it is costing them to prevent Irish independence?

            I wonder how many english tax payers realise just how much of their hard earned dollars are burned up on this gerrymandered statelet?

          • neill January 2, 2016 at 11:49 am #

            So no answer then Ryan to my question?

    • Virginia January 2, 2016 at 3:31 am #

      Neil, 2016 will be trying for those of us who choose the multiracial – multicultural Union, thankfully you have have time to respond. Cheers!

      • jessica January 2, 2016 at 9:47 am #

        “Neil, 2016 will be trying for those of us who choose the multiracial – multicultural Union, thankfully you have have time to respond. Cheers!”

        Not as trying as those multiracial minorities who face constant racial abuse and attack in unionist east Belfast would you agree Virginia.
        The traits of the union you profess to appreciate, unfortunately do not extend to the northern Ireland statelet where unionists have their own agenda and it is as British as Alabama.

  2. Mary Jo January 1, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    Kennedy, a historian who takes an event out of its historical context and assesses it in the light of right wing libertarian sentiment of a subsequent century may have created a propagandist polemic, perhaps even a work of literary interest. He has not, however, written a history.

    • jessica January 1, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

      I agree with you completely Mary Jo, hopefully I have not given the impression that I felt that it was Kennedy attempting to rewrite history.

      Only a state can do that with the manipulation of the media, control of education and curtailment of legislative freedoms, i.e. lawfare.

      • Mary Jo January 2, 2016 at 9:43 am #

        I had no intention of querying your assessment, Jessica. I follow your posts with great interest and admiration. My comment was a dismayed response to Kennedy’s article, which I read on following your link to it. I should have clarified that.

        • jessica January 2, 2016 at 9:59 am #

          Thank you Mary Jo

          I feel like I can be too critical at times, but the media coverage is so filled with one sided bias at the moment, I think it only fair to do a little to balance things out plus it is good to blow off a little stream now and again. 🙂

  3. PaulK January 1, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

    And those who were responsible for their fair share of the pain and suffering, ie: Unionists, continue to live in denial and refuse to accept any responsibility in promoting peace and reconciliation.

    That difficult work is always left to others. What a pity.

  4. michael c January 1, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    For the record,Liam Kennedy on one occasion put his views to the electorate of West Belfast.He amassed the grand total of 102 votes while some boy called Adams polled 25,600 !

    • Sherdy January 2, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

      I heard that 100 of the 102 total were by his own family!

  5. Mark January 1, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

    Jessica, don’t fret too much.
    The author of this piece, in the trash journal of the blueshirts, is obviously trying to invent himself as an intellectual.
    Now, thank God I did not read history at university, I was even more boring but, what I did learn, in no small part through significant family history in the Rising and later the war of independence was, of course the leadership of the Oglaidgh did not support the Rising, indeed, the planned Rising on the Sunday was stood down by the glorious lecturer.
    The IRB, which had of course infiltrated the Oglaidgh, did support the Rising, their leadership had organised the events in Coalisland and Carrickmacross, and other towns throughout Ireland, some, including one of my family’s commanders, Bulmer Hobson, did not support such, then again Hobson was a Quaker, a people with a proud tradition of opposing violence but many, many of those in the area did support the use of violence to achieve a legitimate end
    A great many of our hero’s of the, unfinished struggle for independence actually came from Tipp. both end’s, but for one of them to write
    ‘ A part of the text that has received little critical attention illustrates the arrogance and sense of entitlement that characterised the leaders of 1916: “The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman.”‘ shows a complete arrogance to recognize the right of small nations to be free, what, at this time, millions of people were engaged in an argument between two german cousins to determine.
    Further down Kennedy contrasts the proclamation on Liberty Hall with the Proclamation stating ‘our Galent allies in Europe’ who had committed atrocities in Belgium, he of course forgets the atrocities committed by the Belgians in Africa but, why should you let facts get in the way of a good lie, the other fact been, the Women and Men of ’16 had declared a Republic, therefore they, and we, served neither king nor kaiser but, still relied on support from Europeans to supply arms, just like Carson and the UVF did.
    This poor gaisun further shows his lack of research, and understanding, in claiming the Rising was responsible for later partition, rather, and this was O’ and A’ level’s history, what caused partition was the requirement of protestants to control resources, seen in their re-settlement of part of south Tyrone with Letrim protestants, thereby removing the threat of democracy.
    In the end this article finally shows how it’s author is wholly misguided, he is a staff member, as once was I, of QUB academic team, unlike some of us, he has sold out just for the same queen’s shilling those who left Ireland to fight for the Brit’s, rather than stay at home and fight for their own small nation, did.
    Finally, finally, the promoter of the war of independence was not the Rising per. se, rather the decision of the English administration in the Castle to put to death those leaders, dreamers like Pearse, dying like Connolly, akin to the Hunger strikes in ’80/’81, set alight the desire to be free of amoral occupation, if Kennedy could read he might reappraise his present view by re-reading the Proclamation in how it actually promotes equality, then missing in Ireland (and England), what he forgets is the promise to respect all the citizens of the Republic despite the machinations of the foreign government.
    I should hope some of his students do take the opportunity to debate these matters with him, omission being, in some places, lying.

    • billy January 1, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

      i see you mention unfinished struggle.are we any more forward.

      • Mark January 2, 2016 at 11:59 am #

        No. Good Friday, in my opinion moved reunification backwards, I’ve made the point before, the west Brit, and Brit media push and push at ‘northern Ireland’ even sports coverage reports all day on soccer matches, attended by a few dozen, while club GAA matches get barely a mention, it’s about selling the soon majority the idea they’re not Irhlihs but Brit

      • Mark January 2, 2016 at 3:29 pm #

        No. Billy, Good Friday, in my opinion moved reunification backwards, I’ve made the point before, the west Brit, and Brit media push and push at ‘northern Ireland’ even sports coverage reports all day on soccer matches, attended by a few dozen, while club GAA matches get barely a mention, it’s about selling the soon majority the idea they’re not Irhlihs but Brit

        • Wolfe tone January 2, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

          Operation ‘Northern Ireland’ has been underway for sometime. Be it through the media,our schools,sport etc. Any chance they get they are at it e.g Ulster Cancer foundation was quietly changed to the Northern Ireland cancer foundation 3/4 years ago. It’s obvious words matter.

  6. Joe Nolan January 1, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    The concept of MOPE – that the Irish are the “most oppressed people ever” – is an interesting one and reveals much about attitudes in the media and academia classes in Ireland. The acronym MOPE was, I believe, coined by the novelist John Banville in the Irish Times and used subsequently and extensively by figures such as Kevin Myers, Eoghan Harris, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Liam Kennedy and Diarmaid Ferriter amongst others. However, in all my time, I have never heard of a single Irish republican claim that the Irish were the “most oppressed people ever”. This claim, if it were ever made, would be patently untrue.
    So, in effect, we have a cohort of Irish society satirising and disparaging another group in Irish society over a claim that the latter never made in the first place. Only in the Irish media!
    I would not buy Liam Kennedy’s book in a blue fit, but it seems to me from the title alone that it based on a false premise – not a good idea.

    • Argenta January 1, 2016 at 11:29 pm #

      Joe
      Be careful about casting aspersions on Prof Ferriter.I gather he launched Jude’s last book in Dublin!!

      • Jude Collins January 2, 2016 at 8:52 am #

        He did indeed, and did a splendid job. That doesn’t mean he’s above criticism. Why, on this blogsite, there have occasionally been people who criticise…ME.

  7. Iolar January 1, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

    Context is important. 1916 was not an isolated historical event and any analysis must take account of the prevailing ethos of the regime in Dublin castle at the time. Pearse et al did not have access to any sophisticated means of communication in a city recovering from the bitter industrial dispute 1913 and the reality of carnage in a war that was to end all wars. The cult of blood sacrifice was not unique to Ireland.

    Liam Kennedy is correct when he refers to,

    “…the jingoistic sentiment of the time, emanating from Europe…and the subsequent privileging of the ‘gun, the drum and the flag’ above…other political and class-based concerns.”

    Liam Kennedy ignores the fact that the drum and the flag remain heavily subsidised in the north of Ireland, courtesy of the tax payer and they continue to take precedence over political and class-based concerns. The well fed elephant remains in the room, in spite of the Fresh Start Agreement 2015.

  8. Joe Nolan January 1, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

    I had intended to submit this comment under the article on AP McCoy as it comes under the ambit of sports events in an Anglo-Irish context, but, on second thoughts, as it deals with historical revisionism, it might have a better home here. Bear with me.

    RTE reported on 30th December that the “top brass” of the GAA had refused to extend an invitation to then British parliamentary under-secretary of State at the NIO, Nicholas Scott MP, to the 1985 All-Ireland football final. This information came to light as a result of the 30 year confidentiality rule for State papers released from the National Archives in Dublin. RTE continued to state that this demonstrated how much “progress” the GAA has made in the intervening years, the report made no reference to how circumstances including British government policy may have changed over the course of 30 years.

    On face value, it appears to be somewhat churlish in hindsight of the GAA to refuse such an invitation. As I recall, Nicholas Scott was an affable man, a quintessential Tory “wet” and represented the acceptable face of British conservatism in contrast to the rampant Thatcherism of that time. However, such a sentiment does not take into account the context of the times. This was only 4 years after the hunger strikes in the H-Blocks. Thatcher had made her infamous “out, out, out” remarks only the previous year belittling the Taoiseach in the process. The British government seemed intent on prosecuting an exclusively “security” solution to the conflict and the RUC was operating a “shoot to kill” policy against republicans. All of this was happening within a year after the IRA bombing of the Conservative party conference at Brighton. The Anglo-Irish Agreement would be signed in November 1985 – Nicholas Scott must have been aware that significant progress was being made – but the positive impact of that accord would only become apparent over the years.

    Of more direct impact on the GAA, the RUC / UDR and British army patrols regularly harassed, intimidated and assaulted GAA members on their way to games or coming home from training and, in some cases, were believed to have colluded with Loyalists to have GAA members killed. Of course, the Gaelic grounds at Crossmaglen were still occupied by the British army at that time. In that context, the attitude of the GAA becomes far more understandable.

    Forgive the convoluted argument, but reading the RTE article provoked in me some thoughts about the nature of historical revision. I identify strongly with Irish republicanism and I am old enough to have been politically aware of the conflict in the North in 1985, but even I was momentarily taken in by the slant in the article until I thought about the context of the times which I experienced at first hand in time, if not in space.

    Now that 2016 is upon us, we will experience a glut of revisionist articles and books about Easter 1916. I expect that in many cases contemporary standards and criteria based on more recent history will be applied retrospectively by the media and academic establishments to denigrate the actions, ideals and the achievements of the Irish revolutionaries from that era. Now, I am not old enough to recall the events of 1916, but my experience of events of 30 years ago has forewarned me of the dangers of accepting the “official” narrative of 1916 over the coming year.

    I can console myself by taking pride in the “progress” that the GAA has made in the last 30 years in forging closer links with our neighbours across the water and look forward to watching the championship unfold on Sky Sports over the summer months…..