In NINETEEN SIXTY-SIX AND ALL THAT I mentioned how that year impacted on eight-year old Fintan O’Toole, Ireland’s leading intellectual. That year also impacted on eight-year old Michael Jackson, the current Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin.Launching Dublin City University’s 2016 Centenary he said that people in the Republic may still not be aware how the 1966 commemorations of the Easter 1916 Rising alienated people of a different identity in Northern Ireland. “The swift following-on of the troubles and the political ambiguities around gun-running and the parallel deployment of members of the Irish Army along the border simply underpinned an emerging anxiety and erosion of trust by neighbour of neighbour in Northern Ireland.”
I’m afraid His Lordship was talking through his Mitre.Unarmed and disenfranchised persons seeking parity with people in Britain were batoned and bludgeoned by Constabulary in Derry in October 1968 and students bludgeoned by Constabulary and “Loyalist” mobs at Burntollet in January 1969. In August 1969 the “Apprentice Boys” insisted on a coat-trailing exercise in Derry and were supported by police violence. I’m writing from London, where Sir Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts, with Metropolitan Police Help, attempted to march through Jewish areas on the East End in the 1930s, but were stopped by the solidarity of democratic citizens. The deployment of Irish troops near the border occurred in August 1969 following attacks by the Northern Statelet’s armed forces on defenceless Nationalists in Derry, and in Belfast where armoured cars with heavy machine-guns went on a rampage. The 1966 Republican commemorations, like the flowers that bloom in the spring, had sweet damn all to do with the case.
The Archbishop says that “throughout the Troubles, County Fermanagh and its people were subjected to an orchestrated programme of removal and its citizens who were Protestants right along its own border with the Republic of Ireland in what would be called ethnic cleansing elsewhere in the world.”
The majority community in Fermanagh, being Nationalist, were not proportionately represented on the electoral registers for local elections, nor proportionately represented in local government jobs, nor in housing. When they exercised their franchise in Westmin ster elections in 1955 their
choice was set aside and a Unionist sat in Westminster. His widow, some years ago in the Daily Telegraph, wrote of “Fermanagh people” in terms which attested to the “removal” of those citizens from her register. And I fear that His Lordship has done the same. His words as quoted in The IRISH TIMES cannot be reconciled with irrefutable evidence.
I don’t know what passport His Lordship carries, but mine identifies me as “a citizen of Ireland” in accordance with the Constitution of Ireland. No “Republic of Ireland” is known to the law and it has been stated by an Irish judge that the name “Republic of Ireland” refers to a soccer team.