WOULD I REALLY BE SAFE TO COME OUT IN TODAY’S PLURALIST IRELAND? by Donal Kennedy

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 11.43.06

After many years examination of my feelings and beliefs I’ve finally decided   to come out as an admirer of Eamon De Valera.  So list to my tale ye Gobshites, and despair!.

From 1941 to 1964 when I lived in Ireland, Dev seemed as permanent as the Mountains of Mourne. My father used give Fianna Fail his  priority votes (under PR), not with any great enthusiasm,but as the best of a bad lot. My mothe voted but her ballot was her secret. I voted in one by-election in 1963, for the Labour candidate Denis Larkin, son of the legendary Big Jim, and General Secretary of  The Workers’ Union of Ireland, my own union.

I thought that Fianna Fail  had assumed an almost divine right to rule. I had no antipathy to Fine Gael, appreciated that founders of all the main parties could claim honourable service to Ireland in the decade ending in January 1922. I remembered a Labour candidate, whose manifesto was short and memorable – “If Dunne Can’t Do It – It Can’t Be Done!” and in London, many decades later failed to persuade a Labour candidate named Andy Love, to campaign with the slogan – “All You Need Is Love.”He wasn’t persuaded and wasn’t elected. We had too a perennial Independent candidate, Captain Peadar Cowan,a veteran of the ‘Tan and Civil Wars who was elected sometimes. His manifesto promised, in the phonetics of our constituency – “Peadar Cowan Won’t Let You Dowan.”

It took me years to appreciate the achievements of Dev and Fianna Fail. They had not created a Heaven on Earth. They made mistakes. They hadn’t created full employment. Secondary education was beyond the means of most families despite the low fees charged by the Christian Brothers and some orders of nuns. The Irish Language did not become the primary language of the people.The British Government had not been persuaded by diplomacy or other arguments to take leave of the national territory.

But when I learned something about the internal and the international context of De Valera’s career I had to marvel at his and his party’s achievements. His Irish opponents, who had wrapped themselves in “parliamentary” virtue revealed themselves supporters of the fascist rape of Abyssinia, and Franco’s murderous mutineers in Spain adopted fascist salutes and uniforms and threatened to emulate Mussolini’s march on Rome. When Johm A Costello boasted that as the Blackshirts had triumphed in Italy and the Brownshirts in Germany so too would the Blueshirts in Ireland, Sean Lemass replied with reasoned  explanation why the Civil War should not be reopened. On his left flank the IRA was itching for an attack on the Blueshirts and resumption of war on Britain. Fianna Fail’s handling of both extremes, and of the regular Army which had triumphed over them a few years before, are matters to marvel

All against the background of the Great Depression, Hunger Marches in Britain, an era described in “The Grapes of Wrath” by Steinbeck and an economic war with an overbearing British Establishment. And during this time, under FiannaFail, record numbers of decent homes were being built for former slum-dwellers, industrial employment was increased and all  workers given statutory paid holidays.

At the League of Nations Dev argued in vain for sanctions against Japan for its attack on Manchuria, and military action to defend Abyssinia from Italy. Sir Anthony Eden denounced his demand that the League live up to its charter. Dev took advantage of the abdication of King Edward V!II to have a democratic constitution drafted and for Ireland’s free voters to enact or reject it. It is now older than any the French have had since their 1789 Revolution, than the United States Constitution at the outbreak of its Civil War in 1861, and the Soviet Union was when it imploded. It is still the property of the Irish people, to amend or abolish as they see fit.

And then there was the courage and skill required to declare and maintain neutrality during the years 1939 to 1945 when involvement in the Second World War might not only have destroyed the Irish State, but obliterated its population.

So, come all ye Begrudgers , tell me why why you believe me mistaken?

 

 

 

 

 

9 Responses to WOULD I REALLY BE SAFE TO COME OUT IN TODAY’S PLURALIST IRELAND? by Donal Kennedy

  1. Sammy McNally March 28, 2016 at 11:11 am #

    Jude,

    Any negative comment about Dev can be re-butted by claiming he was a product of his times – but it is fair to say that the state which he moulded – sometimes with great skill as you have outlined was in simple terms too Catholic. Dev election after the unnecessary civil war, was, to use an SDLPism – democracy for slow-learners.

    Weighing up his positives and minuses is an impossible job – but I think it fair to say that when reflecting on the inclusivity of the proclamation what came out the other side – in large measue moulded by Dev – was somewhat of a disappointment – notwithstanding the difficulties that he was faced with.

    Overall some fine moments and achievements – but not the great statesman that was required at a very difficult point in Irish history.

    • Jude Collins March 28, 2016 at 11:52 am #

      Sammy, Sammy – I’m tempted to take credit but in fact it’s Donal K…

      • Sammy McNally March 28, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

        Jude,

        must remember to pay more attention to detail and small(er) print.

  2. Mary Jo March 28, 2016 at 11:49 am #

    In a choice between FF and FF, history demonstrates that FF have generally done more for the “little” man than FG ever did. Micheal Martin’s current offer of policies, addressing homelessness and health service issues certainly looks more enticing and more moral than FG’s crude attempt to bribe independents with cabinet positions.

    What chance a nod or a wink from Gerry or Mary Lou to rid us of the Blueshirts for long enough to put the “little” folk back on their feet?

  3. Donal Kennedy March 28, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    I’m not commenting on Micheal Martin but on Dev and his team.Following partition the 26 Counties were overwhelmingly Catholic. The paper of the Unionists there – THE IRISH TIMES
    was virulently anti-Republican and tepidly supportive of Cosgrave’s mix of “stepping-stone Republicans, unreconstructed Redmondites and Unionists. In Fenruary 1933 it had an editorial warning against returning Fianna Fail to power, and in March one applauding Hitler’scoming to power in Germany. Although both Cumann na nGaedhail, and Fianna Fail had Protestant members who had previously been in Sinn Fein, both were overwhelmingly Catholic in membership. And most of them were sincere believers and many very pious.If
    anything Fianna Fail were less influenced by the clergy than Fianna Fail. The legislative
    record will bear me out. Anyone who thinks Britain was wildly liberal regarding sex, divorce,
    mixed bathing, jazz dancing, births out of wedlock, theatre, films and music really needs to read up about the decades before the Beatles’ First LP, as Larkin (Philip, not Big Jim!) described them.

  4. philip kelly March 28, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    his total acceptance of partition and his continued support for the unionist /British state that was northern Ireland
    his unrelenting prosecution of sinn fein and republicans , ( interment, death by hunger strike ,death by hanging, 1930’s 40’s 50’s )
    I should also be remembered that Dev and his followers and indeed his family prospered very well at the expense of the Irish state , and people, as he herded off thousand’s on the cattle boats to England , America Canada etc without any kind of education or preparation for the new world where they were abandoned to the slums of london or new York never to return to Ireland but to lie in a paupers grave
    where he created a sectarian state as the catholic church for many years ran this state
    and in turn abused and destroyed 1000s of young girls and boys lives not counting the 1000’s of babies they exported for profit

    THAT WAS DEV’S IRELAND AN IRELAND OF HAVES AND HAVE NOTS !!!!
    AND THAT IS A LEGACY THAT CONTINUES TO THIS DAY, AN IRELAND OF CORRUPTION, FAILURE, DENIAL OF ITS HISTORY, CULTURE /LANGUAGE

    THE DREAM OF AN IRELAND ENVISAGED ON THE CAVE HILL OUTSIDE BELFAST WITH THE FOUNDING OF THE UNITED IRISH MEN AND REITERATED AT EASTER 1916 REMAINS TO BE ACHIEVED , YES, BUT WE ARE NOW NEARER THAT GOAL THAN WE EVER WHERE SINCE 1918 , AND OF COURSE THAT DREAM AND FLAME WAS NEARLY EXTINGUISHED BY DE VELARA IN 1926 , BUT HE WAS WRONG VERY WRONG AND IRELAND WILL BE A FREE AND SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC IN SPITE OF HIM AND HIS FELLOW TRAVELLERS IN FIANNA FAIL, FEIN GAEL , AND THE LABOUR PARTY AS SINN FEIN LEAD US CLOSER TO REAL FREEDOM

    • Sammy McNally March 28, 2016 at 4:27 pm #

      re. “SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC”

      Is that a Typo or should that read Socialist? Not sure J Connolly would approve?

      Continuing use of the SDLPism from above regarding DEV being a slow learner – FF accepted partition in the 1920 and SF did do in the 1990s – another example of democracy for slow learners?

  5. Sammy McNally March 28, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    Whatever about how bad FG or the Irish Times were or the pace of social change in Britain the uncomfortable fact remains that the State (free of British legislators if not influence) gave the Catholic church far more influence than was healthy – and that is a significant part of Dev’s legacy and why I think that for many listening to the proclamation being read yesterday there was a reflection on that whatever about the difficulties of the times Dev’s overall record will be viewed by many (and increasingly so) although having some fine achievements – as overall a disappointment.

    • philip kelly March 29, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

      if you actually read the 1916 proclamation , you will see that it is a social democratic programme based on justice and equality for all , dev did not accept partition in 1920 but did fight a cavil war against the treaty that brought it in, he later did accept in 1926 and gave effect to it in his government’s since 1936 and since 1932 he waged a unrelenting war against republicans which was every bit as vicious as the free state in the cavil war

      I DON’T SUPPORT THE SDLP THANK YOU SAMMY, BUT I DO SUPPORT SINN FEIN AND MAKE NO APOLOGIES TO ANYONE FOR THAT !!