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Ulster for Beginners – Part IX

This is the final part and on a day when Ulster politics could have a big impact on British and by extension EU politics. I hope to put up a follow up post – Reflections 20 years on, that sort of thing – but I hope all sorts of things that I never get round to.

Britain’s Role (continued)

Almost since the moment the Troubles began, British governments have been is search of what T E Utley described as the “mythical centre”. There is a belief that with just a few tweaks here and a few drops of the old diplomatic oil there, a solution can be found that can satisfy all. Thus Ulster has seen a succession of negotiations since 1973, all of which have ended in failure of greater or lesser magnitude. Ulster’s colonial masters simply cannot seem to get to grips with the idea that there are some disputes which cannot be resolved by compromise. The politicians might as well have tried finding a compromise between driving on the left and driving on the right. Or between a murderer and his intended victim. Or jumping out of a window and not jumping out of a window (elasticated ropes perhaps?). There is a reason for this. There is no compromise between going to war and not going to war. Or being governed by people you trust and people you do not trust. Or being forced to learn Gaelic and not being forced to learn Gaelic.

[Slightly overegging the omelette here but the point is clear enough: there is no compromise to be had.]

This belief in compromise has led to successive governments making all nature of concessions to nationalists. In the early stages this included standing down the B-Specials, disarming the RUC, permitting the creation of No-Go areas and generally taking a softly, softly approach towards terrorism. In more recent times the Government has sought to appease nationalism by introducing “Fair Employment” legislation, signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement and declaring that it had “no selfish, strategic or economic interest” in the Province.

[I should perhaps explain what a “no-go” area is. Or was. It is an area the police and the army do not enter. According to unionists this gave the IRA the opportunity to arm and organise.]

Such compromises might have been justified had they had the effect of reducing tension. Of course, they have done no such thing. The IRA had taken enormous comfort from government concessions, seeing them as a reward for their campaign of violence. Meanwhile nationalists, far from running out of things to complain about, have merely switched from demanding civil rights to demanding joint sovereignty.

Although government policy towards Ulster has, in many ways, been weak, there is one area where the Government has been right. Throughout the Troubles the Government has accepted the principle of self-determination and that the people of Ulster have the right to determine their own destiny. Credit where credit is due.

The Way Ahead

Ulster’s tragedy is uncertainty. For the best part of thirty years they have had to suffer a government whose actions have been contradictory and confusing. While Ulster’s people are unsure of their destiny and governments make little effort to put their minds at rest then there will always be those who believe that violence can pay political dividends. On the other hand, were there no doubt that Ulster was British and was going to stay that way then the IRA would soon lose support and melt away.

[Is this true? This question came up in a Samizdata post in its very early days. The best explanation I thought for the peace that had broken out was the collapse of the Soviet Union. All of a sudden, the supply of arms dried up. Which I suppose suggests that there is little fear of a resurgence in republicanism – unless that is a post-Brexit European Union gets into the arms-smuggling business.]

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part IX

5 comments to Ulster for Beginners – Part IX

  • declaring that it had “no selfish, strategic or economic interest” in the Province.

    Churchill had more sense. This is from his victory broadcast in May 1945:

    “Owing to the action of the Dublin government, so much at variance with the temper and instinct of thousands of Southern Irishmen who hastened to the battle-front to prove their ancient valour, the approaches which the southern Irish ports and airfields could so easily have guarded were closed by the hostile aircraft and U-boats. This was indeed a deadly moment in our life, and if it had not been for the loyalty and friendship of Northern Ireland we should have been forced to come to close quarters or perish forever from the earth. However, with a restraint and poise to which, I say, history will find few parallels, His Majesty’s Government never laid a violent hand upon them, though at times it would have been quite easy and quite natural, and we left the Dublin government to frolic with the German and later with the Japanese representatives to their hearts’ content.”

    I am not in the least surprised that ordinary MPs produce boilerplate idiocies of the kind Patrick quotes. They were doing it in the 1930s too – and ended up looking very stupid but never if course admitting it. The SW! bubble is filled with idiots who think themselves too clever to need to learn from the past.

  • Mr Ed

    ” ‘Wolves’ ‘Lambs’; ‘Lambs’ ‘Wolves’. I’m sure you’ll get along.”

    I once ‘accused’ (or put a query to) an Ulsterman of Popery. He was incensed.

  • Paul Marks

    The place is either part of the United Kingdom or it is part of the Republic of Ireland – there is no logical “deal” or “political settlement”.

    The British establishment are disgusting people, they have no honour and can not be trusted (other than be trusted to do bad things). However, most Unionists themselves are partly to blame – after all they accepted the Belfast Agreement (the so called “Good Friday Agreement”) and that was obviously written to eventually lead to a “United Ireland”.

    By the way I repeat my old point – many of the best Unionists (including British Army Generals and very senior police officers) have been Roman Catholics. Although not the sort of Catholic that is now fashionable in the Vatican – where today Marxism and Paganism are mixed together and served up to applause of the “mainstream” media. Someone who actually believes in Roman Catholic theology will have nothing to do with Marxist (IRA) “Liberation Theology” or with the pagan antics of the “Amazon Synod” – where those who support infanticide (the human sacrifice of very young children to the Earth Mother Goddess) are treated as honoured guests.

    Logically atheist Marxism and the vile cults of the Amazon (and elsewhere) should be incompatible – but the Jesuits (and other such) mix them together. It must be stressed, very strongly, that none of this is anything to do with traditional Roman Catholic doctrine – it is a total violation of it.

    In short the word “Popery” is no longer an insulting term for Roman Catholicism – it is diametrically OPPOSED to Roman Catholicism. And the once rhetorical question “is the Pope a Catholic?” is now a real question – and I think the answer to that question is “no he is not a Catholic”.

    Faced with the total onslaught on Christianity that Frankfurt School “Woke” “Social Justice” Marxism represents, old theological disputes seem far less important than they once did.

    Although some of the old disputes are of timeless importance – for example I have never hidden the fact that I believe that Erasmus was correct and Martin Luther WRONG on the vital matter of Free Will (moral reason – human agency).

    I regard Dr Luther’s rejection of both reason (“that whore reason”) and moral agency (free will) as both false and horrible. And I have never been shy about saying so.

    On the other hand, I see no good theological reason for (for example) the celibacy of clergy – other than for monks and nuns who have made a choice to live outside normal society. Both the Anglican and the Orthodox Churches hold to this view of the matter.

    As for the infallibility of the Pope or Bishop of Rome (actually not formally declared till the 19th century) – surely Francis is a living refutation of this doctrine?

  • Nico

    @Paul Marks: Luther’s rejection of reason is strange and vile indeed. The Catholic church has had a longer history, so it has had theologians on both sides of that divide.

    Indeed, the pope is not a Catholic, but a liberation theologian. Indeed, Ireland itself is no longer Catholic either, just as all of Europe is no longer Christian. That wouldn’t be a problem, except that the new state religion is a currently-light form of marxism.

    Some day we may find out what happened that led to Benedict’s resignation, and Bergoglio’s ascendance. But the Catholic church itself is now a joke worldwide, and may never recover. Again, that might not be a problem, but for its replacement being so awful.

  • Paul Marks

    Nico – on whether the former Cardinal Bergoglio (now Francis) is a Liberation Theologian or not.

    Formally a case could be made that he is NOT – as his own writings and spoken comments do not rise to the level of a formal theologian (he is just not at that level of scholarship – which is odd given the intellectual reputation of the Jesuit order), but he has allowed them unlimited power and parrots (in his own vague and confused language) many of their core messages.

    The American saying “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a dog – it is a duck” springs to mind. Although it might NOT be a duck – it might be a man dressed up like a duck and walking like a duck, and quacking like a duck, because he is too fearful (or to confused) to reject “duckness”.

    You raise the case of Ireland and the rest of the West – where (for the most part) traditional belief systems (Christianity) are being replaced, step-by-step, by Frankfurt School Marxism in a bizarre alliance with Big Business. The very thing that Karl Marx himself wanted to destroy – the “capitalists” now in alliance with the Frankfurt School of “Woke” (Social Justice Warrior) Marxism. Of course the alliance will break down – the “capitalists” will be destroyed by the very people they are financing and supporting (just as the Duke of Orleans was destroyed by the people he thought he could control and manipulate – the French Revolutionaries). It will end in madness, murder and destruction.

    One would expect the Pope to denounce all this in the strongest possible language – instead he smiles at this evil. The faithful must weep tears of sorrow.