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Defence, Ireland and the “free rider” issue

“When was the last time an American president included Ireland in their vocal – and justified – criticism of Europe for slacking on its commitments? The fact is, with so many American voters claiming Irish heritage, Ireland gets a free pass, something it shamelessly exploits.”

Richard Kemp, Daily Telegraph (£).

I wonder if Ireland’s fairly low-key approach is a hangover from when, during WW2, it was neutral, presumably out of a reflexive hatred for the UK rather than some deep love of the other side. In the case of another country that gets praise here occasionally – Switzerland – it was also neutral, although the Swiss probably, for military reasons, feared with some justification that if it sided with the UK, it would have been rapidly invaded by its German neighbour. These days, the Swiss have imposed sanctions on Russia, along with the UK, EU and the US, so its own neutrality is fading. And Ireland, as an EU member state, has of course imposed the same sanctions, for what that’s worth. It is not a NATO member – something that might come as a surprise to some people.

There’s a wider issue for those of a free market and economics point of view here. Ireland could be accused, perhaps rightly, of being a “free rider” on other countries that are able and willing to spend serious money on defence. This “free rider problem” is a subject that comes up in economics and public policy, and used to justify, for example, compulsory public spending on things such as highways, education and defence because it is uneconomic and inefficient to charge individuals for the benefits of said, and yet there will always be those who benefit but have no incentive for pay up. Is this behaviour by Ireland a “free rider” issue, and if so, what if anything can be done about it?

Separately, Ireland has for a long time had one of the lowest rates of corporate taxation in the world. President Joe Biden, who likes to flaunt his Irish roots (as many US presidents, in their rather tiresome way, do) has been an advocate of a global pact through which major countries adhere to a minimum tax rate of 15 per cent, and who knows, that might go higher. This counts as a tax cartel, and a country such as Ireland (an EU member state, remember) loses out from that, as do other small EU states such as Malta and Luxembourg. Ireland boomed in the late 80s, and through the 90s, in part because of its low-tax charms. These angered the policymakers of Brussels, who perhaps rightly saw this as a challenge to their desire to create a more high-tax/high-spend regime across the EU. So Ireland can at times be annoying for the right reasons.

What this all comes down to is that Ireland has, in different ways, chosen to stand apart. For all that it might be annoying that Ireland doesn’t supposedly do more on defence (it has a big coastline and requires safe shipping lanes), there’s been a sort of independence of mindset about Ireland that I quite like. (And as a coda to all this, lots of Irishmen, during WW2, defied their country and fought during WW2 against the Nazis, to their everlasting honour.)

38 comments to Defence, Ireland and the “free rider” issue

  • Steven R

    There’s a book on the subject you might want to look into. Neither Friend Nor Foe: The European Neutrals in World War II by Jerrold Packard goes right to the reasons Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, and Portugal didn’t get involved with either the Allies or Axis fight. It was a fine line all five of those nations walked because they were courted or threatened by both sides of the conflict and while all five had to make some compromises to stay out of the war, they still managed to not get dragged into it.

  • AFT

    It is hard to see how Ireland – less than 20 years after becoming independent – could have chosen a different path than formal neutrality during WW2. In retrospect it can be seen that this choice, far from being an assertion of independence, was actually a consequence of an inability to perceive of Ireland’s place in the world other than through the prism of the country’s historical relationship with Britain. But that was probably inevitable at that time.

    However, Irish neutrality was not at all of a plague-on-both-your-houses nature. For example, British airmen who came down accidentally on Irish territory were brought to the ferry to Holyhead so that they could rejoin the fight; German airmen were interned. Irish citizens who joined the allied forces were not defying their country; nobody made any effort to stop them and they came home on leave without any problems. The Irish intelligence services also worked closely with the allies.

    Many people’s perceptions of Irish neutrality during WW2 have been skewed by De Valera’s frankly idiotic decision to observe the protocol of formal neutrality and present his condolences on Hitler’s death. There were, undoubtedly, some Irish people who were sympathetic towards Nazi Germany for no other reason that because Nazi Germany was Britain’s enemy but that was most certainly not the case of the Irish government at the time.

  • Mark

    Iteland can be as neutral as it wants and it can hide behind whoever’s skirts it wants as well. This is one of the perks of being a small country.

    However it no longer, in a very real sense, exists, being now a province of toytown Austria-Hungary.

    These games are becoming increasingly hard to play.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    AFT: Many people’s perceptions of Irish neutrality during WW2 have been skewed by De Valera’s frankly idiotic decision to observe the protocol of formal neutrality and present his condolences on Hitler’s death.

    I think that is correct. I didn’t mention it in my OP but in the eyes of some British people, that act poisoned views of the Republic for many years.

    I mentioned the role of Irish men in WW2 in fighting against the Germans precisely because Ireland has a long, and often glorious, military tradition (think of the soldiers who fought in the Peninsular campaign with Wellington, for example).

  • tfourier

    Ireland is nt neutral. Never was. Its just could not be bothered to spend any money on defending itself. Its a totally parasitic “neutrality”. Or to use the local term – cute hoor neutrality. A cute hoor is someone who will cheat, defraud and steal from you if given the opportunity.

    Compare Irelands history with Sweden and Finland, genuine neutral countries until recently. If you cannot defend your territorial integrity, you’re just a parasite leaching off others. Which is all Ireland has done since the 1930’s. Ireland has no air-force, navy or no army worth mentioning for almost 100 years.

    DeValera dismantled Irelands small military forces in the 1930’s. For exactly the same reason the ANC destroyed the SADF. DeValera was never neural in WW2. He made quiet clear his price for Irelands involvement. The UK coerce and betray the Loyalists of NI into a “United Ireland”. Irelands position in 1940 was so repugnant that even that apologists for all scummy “liberation movements” Malcolm MacDonald, could nt swallow it.

    The Irish government was a very active pro Axis agent during WW2. The Dept of Foreign Affairs was very pro Fascist, Pro Nazi. Which is why the Nazi government made so many favorable propaganda films about Ireland. This is why Ireland was treated the same as one of the Axis belligerents in the post war world. Getting locked out of the Marshall Plans due to its outrageous demands and only allowed to join in the UN in 1955. At the same time as the defeated Axis countries.

    Its always fun destroying the illusions of Irish Americans about Ireland. Been doing it for decades. The Irish not being arsed to defend themselves is a great one. As it its money laundering of $100B’s of US tax evasion. Then there are true story of the vile evil men in Irish politics, North and South. I find the story of the hundreds of Catholics that Sinn Fein tortured (sometimes to death) in “punishment beatings” is a great way of shutting up the more brainwashed Irish Americans.

    Ireland is a pretend country with a pretend government with a dead “national language” and major political parties that have either murdered thousands of people and have run organized crime for decades, or else aided an abetted huge money laundering and tax evasions scheme by MMC’s. The Anglo Irish Bank collapsed in 2008 because almost $40B of its money laundering deposits left. And so on..

    Think of Ireland as western Europe’s very own Transdneister and you would not be too far wrong. So no wonder it just loves Plastic Paddies like Joe Biden. And its welcome to Ronald Reagan back in 1984, who was a lot more Irish than Biden ever, was at best half hearted and at times outright rude.

    Which tells you all you need to know about the Irish.

  • Martin

    I’m not sympathetic with Irish republicanism (although do find the historical treatment of Ireland’s population quite sad, and I think it’s unfortunate Ireland couldn’t have remained under the crown as a separate kingdom) but I think Ireland has been able to be officially neutral because circumstances allowed it to. As long as Britain didn’t fall to Nazi Germany in WW2, the Irish Republic was unlikely to be at serious threat from being invaded by Germany. From my understanding despite Valera going to the German embassy after Hitler’s death, Irish policy was effectively more pro-Allied than pro-Axis in effect. Ireland traded heavily with Britain during the war and returned downed Allied pilots while interning downed Luftwaffe ones. Compared to Switzerland, Spain, or Sweden (sending all that iron ore to Germany), Ireland’s neutrality was relatively benign for the Allies.

    In the Cold War, Ireland was very far from the Fulda Gap and had plenty of NATO countries in the way before the Soviets could reach them. So didn’t necessarily need to confront whether neutrality was still appropriate.

    I get more steamed about American meddling in Northern Ireland affairs than what the Irish do themselves to be honest. Although perhaps I get most steamed that British governments won’t just tell American ones to back off and get lost with regards to the affairs of Northern Ireland.

  • Steven R

    I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to say Ireland or de Valera was Fascist. Remember, Fascism was very popular in the west until Hitler started to take his show on the road. If anything, it was more “if Britain is against it, we’re all for it”. And it wasn’t like Germany didn’t “accidentally” bomb Dublin a time or two during the Blitz. If you’re de Valera, the only way you can interpret that is “stay out of the war or we flatten your cities.”

    It was the same story with Sweden and Switzerland. They were both surrounded by Germany and both diplomatically threatened with invasion if they didn’t toe the line. Yes, the Swiss would have made the Germans work for a win, but both nations understood that it was trade with Germany or it’s war. So the Swiss traded with the Germans and the Swedes shipped iron ore and ball bearings.

    Let’s be honest, if you’re Ireland, Sweden, or Switzerland, you have to look around and acknowledge that A) you don’t really have a dog in Britain’s fight, and B) if you get involved your country is going to pay. Although it’s also easy to say “well yeah, but it wasn’t Norway’s, Denmark’s or the Benelux’s fight either and look at them” and that’s also true, but even Hitler would rather get what he wanted via trade and diplomacy than have to invade yet another country, at least in the near term, and neither Ireland, Sweden, nor Switzerland were in a military position to resist an invasion (although the Swiss would have inflicted some serious German casualties in the process).

    Spain and Portugal are interesting in that Franco and Salazar were both nationalists (in that they put Spain and Portugal first and hated Communists second) but were able to simply not get involved with Hitler’s war. Spain did it by Franco sending his most fervent anti-Communists to the Eastern Front in the form of the Blue Legion and Portugal by just saying it wasn’t their war and eventually granting the US rights to use the Azores out of threats by the US and British of invasion.

    And I wouldn’t read too much into the whole “but they sent condolences when Hitler canoed his head” thing. The rules of international diplomacy require that kind of thing. Kantaro Suzuki, the Japanese PM at the end of the war, sent condolences to the UD when FDR finally snuffed it. I know it’s popular to wag fingers at de Valera over that, but I suspect if you started digging through diplomatic cables from neutral countries you would find many official words of sympathy sent to Berlin.

  • John


    There are many accounts of the reaction of Ireland and the Irish people towards the returning soldiers who had fought so bravely for the Aliies in WWII.

    They do not make for good reading being continuing evidence of over two hundred years of widespread pathological anti-English hatred echoes of which even now can be seen in the utterances and actions of the leader of the free world.

  • The ultimate post-Cold War free rider is not Ireland, who in the overall scheme of things is a trivial geopolitical irrelevance, but rather Europe’s largest economy: Germany.

    A straight causal line can be drawn between the baleful influence of German post-cold war geopolitics to the present war in Ukraine. Say what you like about Trump (& I was never a fan) but he was on the money regarding Germany.

  • bobby b

    “The fact is, with so many American voters claiming Irish heritage, Ireland gets a free pass, something it shamelessly exploits.”

    Ireland may well get a free pass here in the US, but it has little to do with some perceived powerbase of Irish descendants.

    The free pass stems from the rather universal view (here) of Ireland as powerless and unimportant to the world. It just doesn’t matter much. It’s a neighborhood of GB.

  • James Hargrave

    I suggest that some commenters would benefit from examining the composition of the Irish Senate under the 1937 constitution. It was very much ‘of its time’. Let us ignore De Valera’s call at the German legation, but presumably acting on ministerial advice, it is reported that Douglas Hyde went there as well.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    “These angered the policymakers of Brussels, who perhaps rightly saw this as a challenge to their desire to create a more high-tax/high-spend regime across the EU.”

    Another way in which Ireland presented a challenge to the policymakers of Brussels was by the country voting against amending the Irish constitution to allow ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

    The first referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon was held on 12 June 2008, and the proposal was rejected by the Irish electorate by a margin of 53.4% to 46.6%.

    The EU and its supporters in the Irish political class (which included both the two main parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael) dealt with this by the EU’s favourite technique of running the referendum again until they got the result they wanted.

    The second referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon was held on 2 October 2009 and the proposal was approved by 67.1% to 32.9%.

  • Lee Moore

    I think Martin’s point, about Ireland being neutral because it was able to be, applies just as much to Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal. It just wasn’t worth it for Germany to invade any of them. Sweden and Switzerland supplied enough war materials* to Germany to make invasion an expensive, low profit venture, as well as using up lots of troops. Spain wasn’t worth it either, as that would probably have opened up an Iberian front a la Napoleonic Wars. (Salazar who was quietly pro-British played an important role in keeping Franco neutral – as did Spain’s overseas colonies. Colonies were important to both Spain and Portugal and it was the Royal Navy which threatened them, rather than the Wehrmacht.)

    Obviously if Germany had beaten the Soviet Union, it would have mopped up these neutrals, or forced concessions – eg access through Spain to attack Gibraltar. (Frankly, given the importance of Gibraltar, and having lots of troops in France in the late summer of 1940, if I had been the Fuhrer I’d have asked Franco nicely for access twice, and then gone ahead anyway moving my troops through Spain, and then occupying Gibraltar. And then I’d have said sorry to Franco, and job done, taken my troops back out of Spain. Britain was in no position to prevent this or start an Iberian operation in 1940.)

    But there were other neutrals where it was worth the German effort – Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and so on. Being neutral didn’t save them.

    Then of course there’s the Soviet Union, a neutral from 1939-41 which supplied Germany with plenty of war material including oil.

    * an interesting, but not widely known, story is that Switzerland supplied quite a lot of war materials to Britain too ! There were all sorts of precision things – mostly high value low volume stuff that Britain couldn’t make. So a UK government department organised a large smuggling operation to get Swiss stuff to Britain, usually via Portugal. Bribing neutral diplomats to carry things in diplomatic bags, buying stuff via friendly neutral straw purchasers – all to avoid German controls on Swiss exports. Overall Swiss exports to the UK during the war were about one sixth by value of Swiss exports to Germany, which is pretty amazing.

  • Steven R

    It ultimately comes down to de Valera being is a position to ask “what’s in it for Ireland?” and England not having a good answer. The UK already had the treaty ports, and short of London giving up the NI counties, which was never going to happen, there just wasn’t an incentive for Ireland to enter the war. And I can’t blame them.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Perry de Havilland (London)
    The ultimate post-Cold War free rider is not Ireland, who in the overall scheme of things is a trivial geopolitical irrelevance, but rather Europe’s largest economy: Germany.

    Right, and the idea that they leveraged a punishment — heavy restrictions on their military — post war into an advantage (not having to pay for a military but still getting an in depth defense from NATO — which is to say, the US) is quite horrifying. Trump was right. Germany wants to have the US protect it, then Germany needs to at the very least pay the costs of the US doing so. US tax payers should not be paying a dime for Ramstein air force base.

    And the situation in Europe right now is ridiculous. I don’t agree with the West’s approach in Ukraine AT ALL, but we have discussed this at length, and must agree to disagree. However, for sure if you believe the resurrection of the domino theory in Europe then it is Europe who are most at risk, so why the hell aren’t they paying most of the cost? Why, once again, is it down to the US to save Europe? At least post WWII Germany had the excuse that it was in utter ruins. There is ABSOLUTELY no reason Germany, one of the world’s most powerful and sophisticated economies, shouldn’t be paying most of the cost of this war. Russia isn’t going to invade Boston or Atlanta any time soon.

    And to be fair, I think I exclude both Britain and Poland, who both seem to have been doing more than their fair share. Poland at less than half the size of Germany, and a much poorer country, is contributing about the same in military aid as Germany. Britain, nearly twice as much as Germany. But needless to say that maybe 70-80% of military aid is coming from the US taxpayer (actually the great grand children of the US taxpayer, since it is all borrowed money.)

    Europe aspires to be a global power but won’t even pay up to protect itself from an imminent threat of military invasion? But why should it when its fat, stupid uncle in the west will say “stand aside boys, I’ll write a check.” So maybe Europe and Germany are parsimonious like a fox.

    Even if you think the deeply corrupt Ukrainian government deserves a tsunami of military aid, I see no reason whatsoever that Europe shouldn’t be the source of every dollar/euro. Our American defense companies would be happy for you to buy our products of course.

    BTW here is the source of my ballpark numbers.

  • tfourier

    @Steven R

    DeValeras constitution of 1937 was a straight up Christian Fascist constitution. Very nacionalcatolicismo. Until the challenge to his authority in 1938 and the IRA spit DeValera had a militia of armed thugs at his beck and call. And used them. When you read DeValeras statements in the Irish parliament after 1938 and his refusal to make any attempts to create any kind of defense force a lot of the statements and actions of both DeValera (who was his own Foreign Minister) and the dept chief secretary, Joseph Walshe, shows that they were both not only very pro fascist governments but expected to run a Father Tiso like pro Nazi regime after the expected defeat of the UK by Germany.

    Devaleras party, Fianna Fail is just like Sinn Fein, they are a marginally democratic party. They refused to acknowledge during most of their existence that any other political party had any legitimacy. There is no liberal democracy or civil democracy political tradition in Ireland. None.

    The voting system was gerrymanders in 1937 to make sure Fianna Fail could not lose another election but when they started losing elections due to their utter incompetence in the late 1940’s (they had collapsed the economy) they spend most of the next two decades trying to change the constitution so the country became a defacto one party state. They failed. But only gave up after four or five attempts.

    Sinn Fein was and is a nationalist socialist party. Fianne Fail through most of existence was a nationalist socialist party. And Ireland was a clerical fascist state during most of its existence.

    The Irish government did not celibate the Allied victory. Quite the opposite. Those who tried to celibate the victory in Dublin in 1945 were attacked and beaten by republican mobs. And the Irish government tried to suppress the newsreels of Belsen and the other concentrations camps but failed. Resulting in widespread anti-Semitic attacks against the very few Jews still remaining in Ireland.

    The many Irish who fought on the Allied side if they returned to Ireland after the war were treated terribly. They were stigmatized and often paid a very high personal price for saving the world from Nazism. Which is why so many were forced to emigrate.

    Ireland has an utterly shameful history. And so much to be ashamed off. The Irish play off the ignorant sympathies of foreigners who know little of nothing of the facts on the ground. Who believe all the BS the Irish tell about being the “Most Oppressed People Ever”. All lies. That “1 million dead” in the Great Potatoe Famine. A number invented by a US grad student in the 1980’s. The 1851 census report (written by Oscar Wildes father) is a sad and somber read but has 100’s of pages of stats of actual moralities during those terrible years. Do you know how many actually starved to death? About 20K. Maybe. Far more starved in famines in Finland in the 1870’s. The terrible communicable disease death rates in Ireland in the 1840’s, about the same a big city slums in Liverpool, Manchester and London at the time. Terrible, but not unusual.

    So the Irish are self serving liars when it comes to theses subjects. Unwilling to take responsibility for anything. Be it defense or their own role in the utter failure of their country as a functional modern state. Everything is always someone elses fault. Always.

    Next time you are Dublin go to Fairview Park and you will find a statue to an very senior Irish republican Sean Russel who actively collaborated with the Nazis and was a whole hearted Nazi supporter. Who died on a German U boat while on his way to try to sabotage the Allied war effort. The U boat later went on to kill dozens of Allied merchant sea-men.

    Thats all you really need to know about Ireland. And nothing has changed in the last few generations. Nothing.

  • Lee Moore

    The many Irish who fought on the Allied side if they returned to Ireland after the war were treated terribly. They were stigmatized and often paid a very high personal price for saving the world from Nazism. Which is why so many were forced to emigrate.

    It’s true that those Irish (from the South) who fought in WW2 on the Allied side were disproportionately – though by no means exclusively – the residue of the Anglo-Irish, who melted almost completely away post war.

  • Martin

    It ultimately comes down to de Valera being is a position to ask “what’s in it for Ireland?” and England not having a good answer. The UK already had the treaty ports, and short of London giving up the NI counties, which was never going to happen, there just wasn’t an incentive for Ireland to enter the war. And I can’t blame them.

    My understanding is that in 1940 Churchill effectively offered Ulster to Valera in exchange for Ireland joining the war, but Valera declined. Valera didn’t think it was a serious offer. Although Churchill is a more sympathetic character than Valera, in this instance I think it reflects better on the latter more than the former.

  • Fred Z

    Lots of loose talk here about the Irish “shamelessly” exploiting, similar for post war Germany and most of Europe presently. At least my home, Canada, wasn’t mentioned but we’re every bit as freeloading as the rest.

    And we all freeload from the US of A.

    It is immoral to let a sucker keep his money. The USA is a sucker. If they’re stupid enough to pay for our defence, why would we bother to pay for our own?

  • bobby b

    “If they’re stupid enough to pay for our defence, why would we bother to pay for our own?”

    Consider what it is that the US is actually buying for all of that funding.

    It’s not being paid out due to charitable impulses.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Fred Z
    If they’re stupid enough to pay for our defence…

    OMG, we are generous enough to pay for your defense and you don’t even have the decency to spell “defense” the American way? Damn Canadians…..

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    Consider what it is that the US is actually buying for all of that funding.

    Votes from the defense industry lobby crowd? The title of “world’s busybody”? Nobel Prize for “most warmongering country in history”? Hair on the chest of arrogant senators who talk tough while sending our children to die in foreign wars, but run from the room screaming like little girls if there is a spider in the bathtub?

    Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. For the other guy anyway.

  • Fred Z

    bobby b, I operate from the conclusion that Americans are every bit as stupid as I am or you are.

    The money they spend defending me is not out of a pure charitable impulse, it is out of a weird mix of charitable impulse, saviour complex, too much wealth, no idea how to spend it, boredom, and stupidity, plenty of that.

    I like Americans, at least the ones I meet and know in Montana just south of where I spend the summer and ski in the winter. But their pretensions of being exceptional, super smart and hard working are bullshit. The silly buggers lucked onto the nicest chunk of productive real estate in the world. Forests, minerals, oil & gas, vast productive plains and oceans, a salubrious climate, natural harbours, the gigantic Mississippi river system and great lakes that make their interior open for trade, etc. etc.

    Luckiest fuckers ever. They don’t have to be smart, so they’re not.

  • James FHargrave

    tfourier. An excellent contribution – especially at the gross economic incompetence of FF (you should look at their transport ‘policies’ too, about as useful as a jaunting cart in modern-day Kingstown.

    Malcolm Macdonald – Dominions Secretary for much for the time that handing over the Treaty Ports was negotiated.

  • bobby b

    Fraser Orr:

    “Votes from the defense industry lobby crowd? The title of “world’s busybody”? Nobel Prize for “most warmongering country in history”? Hair on the chest of arrogant senators who talk tough while sending our children to die in foreign wars, but run from the room screaming like little girls if there is a spider in the bathtub?”

    I was going to say deference and a place at the head of the table, imposing strategy and tactics for Europe et al., but I like your answer too.

    Had we kept our money inside our own borders from about 2000 on, Europe would be a different place now. We may not have bought wisely, but we did buy.

  • Möngke

    Nobel Prize for “most warmongering country in history”?

    [Laughs in Mongolian]

    Seriously? Not even close. Rank amateurs really.

  • Paul Marks

    The speech by the Speaker of the Irish Parliament was irritating – he was supposed to be just welcoming Mr Biden, but instead gave a speech ticking every “Progressive” box (including international governance) making the speech written for Mr Biden a bit of a waste of time, as the key policy points had already been made by the Speaker of the Irish Parliament.

    The political parties in the Irish Parliament, to judge by their reaction to both the speech by the Speaker and the speech by Mr Biden, do not want the Republic of Ireland to be an independent country – they all want it to be just a small part of some world governance set up.

    Hard to see what the various Irish revolts were about – if the Irish Parliament today, as shown by the Speaker and so on, does not want Ireland to be in any way independent, not politically and not culturally either (as the speech made all the ritual statements in support of multiculturalism and-so-on – as well as government services, tax and regulation policy).

  • Mr Ed

    The point and purpose of the Irish armed forces has always been to just big enough to defend the State from the post-Treaty IRA factions unreconciled to the compromise with the UK and the partition that followed the secession of the North. There has been some UN work too, usually distinguished. Any Irish citizen with ambitions for a more challenging military career has the simple option of joining the UK’s armed forces, unless a known or suspected ‘plant’.

    There are some robust comments here about the Republic, hard to disagree in cold logic, Transnistria (or perhaps Trans-Boynia?) did make me laugh I must confess.

  • Paul Marks

    If one does not wish one’s country to be independent and one is happy to have policy decided by international bodies (government and corporate) then there is no point in having military forces of one’s own.

  • tfourier

    @Mr Ed

    NI did not “secede”. The Home Rule Act of 1914 created a 32 country Home Rule Parliament (Royal Assent Sept 14’th 1914, deferred for duration due to Parliamentary Act)) and it was the pig headed stupidity of the Irish Republicans combined with Asquiths double dealing with the Unionists that meant by 1921 the Irish Nationalists had far less than they would have had if the bunch of blood lust psychos had not committed their botched treasonous shambolic attempt at a military coup in 1916. So a rerun of the 1798 debacle which destroyed the first Irish Parliament.

    Irish Republicans are the greatest bunch of losers in modern European history. Murdering many thousands in the process.

    The last time the Irish government had military force that could face down the IRA was in 1934. Which is why the IRA could act with impunity south of the Border from the late 1960’s onwards with the their “training camps”, very widespread organized crime, and the torture houses. The mass interments of one IRA faction during the 1930’s/1940’s by DeValareas government was at the behest of the largest IRA faction. Unlike 1923 there was no Irish state military force who could have faced down the IRA by the late 1930’s if they had wanted Civil War 2. Which is why the IRA started bombing and committing atrocities in the UK in the late 1930’s. To keep to psychos busy outside the Free State because there was little popular support for them in the Free State at the time.

    As I said Ireland was never neutral. Compare its pathetic attempts at territorial defenses with actual genuine neutral nations. Its a sad joke. Ireland cannot defend or enforce its sovereignty in its air space or territorial waters. Its “army” barely qualifies as even interior troops. The three heavy French Gendarmerie regiments could quickly dispatch them as the Irish “troops” are so ill equipped and trained.

    The facts on the ground are very different from the BS fantasy stories the Irish tell foreigners. The UN forces are only sent to places where they wont get shot at. Or there are real troops near by if anyone does. Their “one successful war action” was shooting several hundred ill armed African irregulars in the Congo in the early 1960’s. The moment a regular detachment lead by Europeans officers turned up, a very lightly armed one I might add, the much larger and more heavily armed Irish forces were quickly overrun and captured.

    Ireland has always been a pretend country. Not wanting to take responsible for anything that distinguishes a genuine independent sovereign state. And the political and social culture now is no different from the 1920’s. No responsibility, have someone else take all the decisions. And when people or institutions commit the most horrendous atrocities, nothing ever happens. Almost never any consequences for the guilty.

    Compare and contrast with Norway and Finland. Both countries with broadly similar histories with much bigger domineering neighbors over hundreds of years. Or even Wales for that matter. Its when you start comparing Ireland with similar small countries that the true extent of its self serving BS and self infected disasters generation after generation start becoming clear.

    So Ireland is still very much a total joke of a country. Often a very sick joke. Like Sinn Fein being the most popular political party in the South at the moment.

    Says it all, really.

  • Mr Ed


    NI did not “secede”

    Sorry, you are factually wrong. For a few days N. Ireland was outwith the UK until its option to retro-secede from the Free State was exercised and it rejoined the UK. There are some quibbles as to how long it formally took until the adhesion to the UK was perfected, but it left the UK for a short time

  • Snorri Godhi


    Nobel Prize for “most warmongering country in history”?


    [Laughs in Mongolian]

    Mongols were not particularly blood-thirsty: they were just better at it.

    Incidentally, the Mongols made the production of paper a priority, with the express purpose of spreading abroad tales of Mongol atrocities.

  • Paul Marks

    Interesting point Snorri – although the Mongols under G. Khan alone are supposed to have reduced the population of the world by about 10%. Spreading tales of one’s atrocities does indeed make enemies more likely to surrender.

    As for the British government and Ireland – perhaps the worse time for Ireland was not when Oliver Cromwell was rampaging about, and he did indeed have people exaggerate his atrocities – in order to make other towns more likely to surrender without a fight. The worst activities of the British government in Ireland was when it was trying to be benevolent (Ronald Reagan “the scariest words in the English language are “I am from the government and I am here to help you”) – Ireland was “given” a state school system in the 1830s because Lord Stanley (later the Earl of Derby) thought it would be nice, the taxes to for that had bad effects. Then there was the Poor Law Tax – introduced in 1838 (by Lord John Russell) and massively increased in 1847 (the Act that said that if any Poor Law Union in Ireland went bankrupt people in other parts of Ireland were to be taxed to bail it out – this was also a Lord John Russell measure, supported by his man in Ireland Sir Charles Trevelyan).

    The Irish population fell by about a third – the high taxes either killed or drove out one in three in the population. The potato crop failures would have killed lots of people – but it was the tax-tax-tax “Irish Property must pay for Irish Poverty” policy that broke the back of the Irish economy and made the place unviable for about 1 in 3 people. All taxes hit everyone – there is no such thing as a tax that just hits landowners (followers of David Ricardo and Henry George please note – Frank Fetter was right about land and land tax).

  • Kirk

    It’s interesting to observe the way that the Irish and the Brits look at each other, these days. Most of my family lineage goes back over that way, but we’ve long since separated from all the angst.

    I would point out, however, that we’ve likely got a few hundred years of well-justified pent-up Irish anger over things to be worked through, and that they’re not likely going to be dealing with much of anything rationally for some time.

    Not that Ireland was ever a really rational place, mind you. There are reasons the English had such an easy time of taking them over, very similar to the Polish problems with a lack of unity and being so easily suborned by outsiders.

    The odds are that the Irish aren’t going to pull their collective heads out for some time to come, and the world can continue to expect them to be working their way through things for some generations yet to come. Same with the English, I suppose.

    The whole thing is really bizarre to observe, as an outsider whose ancestry is roughly 90% from various locales across Great Britain. If they’d stayed home, most of my ancestors wouldn’t have been f*cking each other silly and having kids, they’d have been trying to kill each other. Being as they came to America and left all that behind, it’s utterly bizarre to observe from my perspective. “Really? The Irish are that bad…? You hate the “bloody English” that much…? Gee, Great-Grandmother and Great-Grandfather certainly managed to overcome all that…”

    History is a bitch, when you won’t let go of it. See “Balkans, multiple historical periods”. Honestly can’t see that it ever got anyone anywhere, either. Although, in the Balkans, being a bloody-minded ethnocentric mad person can apparently be a survival trait; nobody wants to engage with you, for fear of starting yet another incessant and violent feud.

  • bobby b

    “History is a bitch, when you won’t let go of it.”

    Sounds like the history of black America.

  • tfourier

    @Mr Ed..

    Nope. You are totally wrong.

    The Government of Ireland Act 1920 create a NI Parliament withing the United Kingdom Of Great Britain and Ireland. Setting aside all provisions of the 3rd Home Rule Act of 1914. The NI parliament was created in law on 3 May 1921. The Anglo Irish Treaty was signed on December 6’th 1921 and the provision in the treat (Article 12) is quite clear that the constitutional status of NI would only change as part of the UK if it actively chose to join with the Free State in its Dominion status. NI spoke very quickly, to retain its status as part of the UK. So no change in its status. Not even for a second.

    When it comes to anything involving Irish history primary sources and primary source only can be relied on. The academics and “experts” spout just as much self serving bollocks as you will find on wiki. Or in the pages of An Phoblacht. In fact often more.

    To pick just one example, the state of Ireland in the 1830’s and 1840’s is remarkably well document in the pages of the Edinburgh Review , Westminster Review, Quarterly Review etc. From all parts of the political spectrum. The story they tell is far more interesting and nuanced than the partisan political narrative BS that passes even as serious academic history. Such as in the Oxford History series.

    And thats just one of many examples.

  • tfourier

    @ Paul Marks

    Thats just the self serving Irish Nationalist – The Brits Made Us Poor – narrative. Total BS. In 1914 the biggest city in Ireland was Belfast. And it was one of richest and the most important industrial cities in Great Britain. Belfast and Glasgow were two industrial powerhouses that could go toe to toe with Manchester and Birmingham as the most important industrial cities in the British Empire. And the world. And large parts of Ulster were as rich and industrious as the Clyde Valley.

    One of the driving forces of the Ulster Covenant in 1914 was the Unionists very strong belief that the main driving force behind “Home Rule” was the quite simply that the more numerous and very backward Irish peasantry just wanted Home Rule in order to expropriate the wealth created by the Unionists by thrift, hard work and superior culture. A belief amply supported by what the Home Rulers said. The Home Rulers wanted punitive tariffs and talked openly about “taking back” “their wealth” from the “Planters”. Think ZANU/PF in Zimbabwe. Or the ANC in South Africa. And just as murderous.

    And now 110 years later the Irish Nationalists have done such a terrible job about extending their purely tribal sectarian national identity that the number of NI Protestants who consider themselves “Irish” is little different (<2%) than when their great grand parents (almost all of them) signed the Ulster Covenant in 1914.

    Irish Nationalists live in a total fantasy land utterly divorced from any grasp on reality. And Irish Republicanism has always been about genocide of some form or other. Its a very small step from "Sinn Fein" to ethnic cleansing and the Pied Noir "solution". The loss of 50% of the Protestant population of the Free State in the first 20 years did not happen by accident. It was mostly ethnic cleansing.

    The Unionists just wanted to be left alone to live their lives. The Nationalists and Republicans just want to either subjugate them, rob them, and drive them out if they wont kowtow.

  • jgh

    Mr Fourier.
    The 1920 Government of Ireland Act did indeed create a Northern Ireland within the UK, and also a Southern Ireland also within the UK. The 1922 Irish Free State Act seperated *BOTH* Irelands from the UK, but gave *BOTH* Irelands the option to rejoin the UK at any point. The 1922 Act went into effect on 6th December 1922, on the 7th December 1922 the Northern Ireland Parliament voted to rejoin the UK. NI *DID* seceed from the Irish Free State.

    This is an important point, as it created an error in the 1947 Nationality Act due to that one-day difference, which was fixed in the 1948 Ireland Act. The one that famously starts: “Ireland is not a foreign country.”