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March 29, 2005

Kelly: Next 6 Weeks Crucial For Peace Process

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

SF 03/29/05
Kelly:Next 6 Wks Crucial For SF & Peace Process
SF 03/29/05 Anger Following Racist Attack In S Belfast
BT 03/29/05 Man Still Quizzed Over City Murder
BT 03/29/05 SF 'Up To Neck In Murder Cover-Up'
GU 03/29/05 Bloody Sunday: Fourteen Million Words Later
PT 03/28/05 God's Imperialists
IT 03/30/05 Race to get 'Dunbrody' ready for Tall Ships
IT 03/30/05 Catholics Back In Galway Church After 300 Years


Kelly - Next Six Weeks Crucial For Sinn Féin And The Peace Process

Published: 29 March, 2005

Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly speaking at the Annual Easter Tuesday Commemoration in Ardoyne by local Assembly member Gerry Kelly said

"There are few things inevitable in life or in our long struggle but one I think, is that at some time after the next election we will be back at negotiations. Negotiations herald change. Change brings turmoil and soul searching. It also means breaking moulds. If we accept that the political changes over the last decade have caused massive upheaval for the Unionist and British system which has misruled the North for so many years let us also accept that Republicans have faced sacred cows as well. Nobody said it would be easy.

"Here is the challenge facing us. As political activists we must rethink strategically, debate strategically and decide what is best for our party, for the cause we represent, and most importantly for the people we represent."

Full text

A Chairde agus a chomradaithe,

Is onóir mór domhsa bheith anseo, ag labhairt libh inniu ar an lá stairiúl seo.Agus is fior lá stairiúl é de thairbhe go bhfuil muid cruinnithe anseo ag cuimhniú ar na fir agus na mná a chuaigh amach ar Domhnach na Cásca i mBaile Atha Cliath agus lás said tine ar fud an domhain naoi mbliana is ochtó ó shin.

Easter week 1916 was one of the greatest historical events of the last century. It started the bush fire of decolonisation, which was to engulf what was then the British Empire. It inspired generations of Irish Republicans, and indeed other peoples throughout the world who rose up against the tyranny of colonial rule, imperialism and oppression. It is a fire still burning in the heart of every republican.

So let me be clear, our comrades who gave their lives and those of us who survived to take up their mantle were and are about bringing about British withdrawal and achieving a free independent and united Ireland. An Ireland of equals.

In commemorating and celebrating the bravery of our fallen comrades in 1916 and since, I want to pay tribute to the volunteers and leadership of the IRA of today because they have shown outstanding valour and vision on and off the battlefield. They have played a central role in this phase of the struggle and I commend their initiatives, patience, discipline and tenacity.

In commemorating and celebrating the bravery of our fallen comrades in 1916 and since, I want to pay tribute to the volunteers and leadership of the IRA of today because they have shown outstanding valour and vision on and off the battlefield. They have played a central role in this phase of the struggle and I commend their initiatives, patience, discipline and tenacity.

15 years ago the gauge of how well republicans were doing or of how close we were getting to a united Ireland would have been in the war of attrition between the IRA and the British army. The IRA volunteers were at the coalface of this struggle - in many ways they were the only dynamic. If courage were the yardstick of success then the British would be long gone.

Indeed individual and collective courage have been the mainstay of this long struggle. It was the courage shown by the leadership of the IRA in calling a cessation of military operations in 1994 which was the catalyst for not only the overall peace process but for the ongoing development of the republican strategy which has brought us so far. The IRA leadership has taken many hard decisions and initiatives since, which have moved the process and our struggle forward.

Sinn Féin too has gone from strength to strength. In November 2003 this party became the largest pro-agreement party in the North and we were already the largest nationalist party in the North.

Just last June, Mary Lou McDonald and BairbreDe Brún became the first Sinn Féin members elected to the European parliament and greater numbers of councillors were returned across the Southern state.

Sinn Féin is the 3rd largest party on the island and is now politically stronger than at anytime since the 1920's. We have used and will continue to use that strength and trust placed in us by a growing electorate for the benefit of all the people of Ireland.

"In early December of last year we were close to a comprehensive agreement which many thought impossible. At the last minute the DUP refused to close the deal on a power sharing government and instead chose the exit strategy of impossible demands on Republicans for humiliation and the biblical demand for repentance and wearing sack cloth and ashes!

Instead of the British and Irish governments standing firm on the Good Friday Agreement they supported Ian Paisley and plunged the process into yet another crisis. That crisis was deepened considerably by allegations surrounding the Northern Bank raid and later in January with the murder of Robert McCartney.

Republicans expect the highest standard of conduct from all in our ranks and we reject anyone who would bring the republican cause into disrepute. Those responsible for taking this young man's life should own up to their actions. The McCartney family have the right to truth, justice and closure.

I also know that many republicans and nationalists are deeply angered by the way our political opponents and large sections of the media are cynically using this murder in an attempt to undermine and criminalise the republican cause as a whole. Let our opponents be aware that attempts to criminalise the republican struggle are doomed to failure. It has been tried many times in our history. Notably in 1916 and 1976 and particularly during the 1981 Hunger Strike when 10 of our comrades died, standing up for our political rights and integrity.

Whether it is Thatcher, or McDowell or Paisley or either Ahern, let them hear this loud and clear, we are proud and honoured to be of the generation and ilk of volunteer Paddy Mc Adorey cut down by British paratroopers on internment morning. We are the community of volunteer Larry Marley, (known for his many talents; not least of which was his central role in the mass breakout of POW's from the H-Blocks in 1983.) We are the friends and comrades and families of Jim Mulvenna, Dinny Brown and Jackie Mailey cut down while unarmed at Ballysillan by a British death squad. This is the calibre of people this area produces.

This small area has taken far more than its fair share of the suffering of this generation in conflict. Long after the cessations of the 1990's this area has remained under attack. During the blockade of the Holy Cross Girls School in particular, the integrity and resolve, the dignity and commitment of this community was tested to the utmost limit. This area has come through many many terrible things but that period to me epitomises the spirit and soul of the people of this area. Let no-one, be they high or low in social or political standing, lecture the people of this area about political rights or criminality or rights as citizens.

Anyone who has taken the time to read or even scan the book "Ardoyne - The untold truth" knows what this community has gone through but has never bowed down. How it gathers around those within it who need help. How working class people who have nothing always find something to give. I for one am extremely proud to be associated with it, and to represent it - with others - wherever I go.

Much of the public attacks on Republicans is being driven by an Irish government fearful of the growth of Sinn Féin.

Since December the British and Irish governments have sought to reduce all of the issues to one - that is the issue of the IRA. What about proper policing? Demilitarisation? Human rights and Equality? The political institutions? What about continuing collusion?

This shallow and short sighted approach, especially by the Irish government, as well as its vitriolic attacks on Irish republicans, has further bolstered unionist stubbornness and eroded confidence in the process, especially among nationalists and republicans.

There are few things inevitable in life or in our long struggle but one I think, is that at some time after the next election we will be back at negotiations. Negotiations herald change. Change brings turmoil and soul searching. It also means breaking moulds. If we accept that the political changes over the last decade have caused massive upheaval for the Unionist and British system which has misruled the North for so many years let us also accept that Republicans have faced sacred cows as well.

Nobody said it would be easy.

Here is the challenge facing us. As political activists we must rethink strategically, debate strategically and decide what is best for our party, for the cause we represent, and most importantly for the people we represent.

Talk to friends and comrades. Give serious thought to where Irish republicanism is today, how we got here and where we now need to go. Do what we do best - strategise, plan and be prepared to act.

Sinn Féin is a republican party. We are the only All-Ireland party. Our goal is to see a United Ireland, which delivers real social and economic change. We are the only party with a strategy and policies for achieving Irish unity and independence.

In recent times other political parties have begun to accept the logic of the republican position. We welcome this and we wish to see them go further. We want them to join with us along with campaign groups, Trade Unions and other interested sections of our society in creating what might be called an 'Alliance for Irish Unity'. They may be latecomers to our strategy for Irish unity. But all are welcome.

There is much work to do. But we believe that we are in the countdown to a united Ireland. We believe that together we can make further progress and truly transform society on this island forever.

Members of Sinn Féin here today are part of the fastest growing party in Ireland. Whether it is here in Belfast or Monaghan, or Kerry or Wexford, or Dublin, or South Armagh, it is clear that Sinn Féin is winning more and more hearts and minds right across the island.

Everyday there are more and more republicans in Ireland. We are building our political strength. I want to call on people to join Sinn Féin. I am confident that we will build on our hard work and substantially increase our political strength. We must continue to build on that strength. The stronger we are the closer our goal of a free independent, and united Ireland will come.

Our political opponents fear our growing electoral strength.

Our developing political strength frightens the political establishments and threatens the status quo.

The six weeks ahead are crucial for this party and for the future of the peace process.

In that time Sinn Féin faces local government and the Westminster general election in the North.

In these contests Sinn Féin will be standing on our record in the peace process, our campaign for Irish unity, our work in local communities and our radical agenda for social and economic change.

I believe that the story of these elections will be the growth of the Sinn Féin vote and the increased number of seats that we will win. Our task in the weeks ahead is to reap what we have sown - to ensure that the support won by the hard work of the last number of years is mobilised on polling day. It is our task to ensure that we continue to work to bring about the goals of Irish unity and independence.

If you want a strong voice in the negotiations?; if you want equality and justice and a real future and peaceful future?; if you want a united Ireland?; if you want to make the 1916 Proclamation a reality? Then join Sinn Féin and let's get the work done.

Our collective efforts has to be to get the largest Sinn Féin vote. Our enemies want us to fail.

Here in North Belfast, we are running 7 local government candidates, 4 in Oldpark, 2 in Castle and 1 in Macedon. Of those, 4 are women. I am as you know running for Westminster. What our opponents need, is to face the reality of a growing republican representation. They need to know we are not going away. Whether they like it or not republicans are a substantial part of the future. It is better that they accept that reality now. Every election someone like me stands in front of you and says this is the most important election so far. Our opponents and the media have made these the most important elections so far, let us give the answer on the 5th May, on Bobby Sands anniversary.

Let me come to a conclusion by going back to the start in a way. It is Easter, we are here to remember and celebrate our fallen comrades.

Liberation struggles always produce the best of people but also can lose the best, who lead from the front and pay with their lives. I have never tried to speak for any of our dead comrades even those I knew well. I don't know what they would have thought of our present leadership and strategy or tactics. What I do know is that they all fought for British withdrawal and the establishment of a United and Independent Ireland. That is the legacy left to us. Their goal is our goal. We will carry that struggle forward. Leadership must lead as best they can.

To the families of dead volunteers we send our support and thoughts at this time. To all the victims of conflict, no matter where they come from, we pledge ourselves to be fully committed to the search for a just and lasting settlement.

Today is also a day for rededication. Let us rededicate ourselves to the goals of fallen comrades.

This generation, our generation will achieve that goal. We will achieve a united and independent Ireland.

A Chairde bigí cinnte go dtiocfaidh ar lá.


Community Anger Following Racist Attack In South Belfast

Published: 29 March, 2005

South Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has said that he was angered by a violent racist attack last night in the Donegal Avenue area of the city.

Mr Maskey said:

"My first reaction to the news that a man was viciously assaulted in a racist attack on Donegal Avenue is one of anger. It is also deeply worrying that after a period when the frequency of these sorts of violent racist attacks had dropped that this latest incident has taken place.

"As a community and a society we have a responsibility and a obligation to stand resolutely with the ethnic minority communities who are living in genuine fear of this sort of outrageous racist behaviour. As public representatives we have a special obligation to work to ensure that ethnic minority communities feel welcome here and feel part of the fabric of this city.

"I would wish to extend my best wishes to the man assaulted and will meet with members of the ethnic minority community in the city in the coming days to offer my ongoing support and commitment to ending once and for all this scourge on our city's streets." ENDS


Man Still Quizzed Over City Murder

Community devastated at Ciaran's stabbing

By Jonathan McCambridge
29 March 2005

Detectives were today continuing to question a man following a fatal stabbing on Easter Sunday.

Ciaran Irvine (22) was murdered in the Twinbrook estate just weeks before he was due to fly to Spain with his girlfriend for a holiday.

Mr Irvine was found lying in the street at Twinbrook on the outskirts of west Belfast in the middle of the night. He had been stabbed in the back and was critically ill. He was taken to hospital but died a short time later.

His mother's partner Frankie Kerr said: "Ciaran was a very happy-go-lucky type. Everyone is devastated. He was very popular and so many people have been calling to the house.

"This was a terrible shock, it was completely unforeseen.

"He was planning to set up a home with his girlfriend and go on holiday in a couple of weeks to Spain. It is such a waste of a life."

He is survived by his mother Anne McPhillips, who works as an essential skills teacher for a local community project, his father Brian Irvine, brothers Gerard, Mark and Cathal and his sister Ciar.

Ciaran was at a party just hours before he was killed.

SDLP Lagan Valley Assembly member Patricia Lewsley said: "This killing has sent shock waves across the whole of Belfast. What type of people can kill a young man with such brutality and force?"

Local Sinn Fein councillor Michael Ferguson said Ciaran's death had come as a terrible blow to the community.

"Ciaran comes from a very nice family and they have been left completely distraught by what happened. They still cannot believe this has happened to a much loved family member."


SF 'Up To Neck In Murder Cover-Up'

SDLP turns heat up on McCartney killing

By Noel McAdam
29 March 2005

The SDLP today accused Sinn Fein of a massive cover-up over the murder of Robert McCartney as the political focus on the republican movement stayed steady.

This week two months will have passed since the 30-year-old Short Strand man was stabbed and beaten outside Magennis's bar near Belfast city centre.

So far none of the witnesses in the bar have made formal statements to Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan, appointed as a 'go-between' to gather evidence if individuals felt unable to go directly to the PSNI.

But the republican movement remains under intense political pressure over the killing, with senior figures yesterday again sounding warnings.

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said: "While pretending to help the McCartneys, Sinn Fein has been up to its neck in covering up this murder.

"They give out about manipulation by others but nobody has been more manipulative than they have."

Dr McDonnell said the key questions still unanswered pointed not to a few individuals refusing to hand themselves in "but to a large scale cover up by Sinn Fein".

He said Gerry Adams needed to clarify whether the expulsions from the IRA had been genuine or had since been rescinded, and also asked:

How many of the members expelled from the IRA and Sinn Fein were election workers for former Belfast Lord Mayor Alex Maskey?

Why a very senior IRA figure was seen publicly chatting to a man believed to be the ringleader of the murderers in the last fortnight, and

Why one of the alleged murderers helped lead the St Patrick's Day parade out of the Short Strand?

The South Belfast MLA added: "They have sought only PR stunts for themselves and not justice for the family. Their approach has been to do as little as they can and get away with as much as they can."

Sinn Fein TD Caoimghin O Caolain yesterday reiterated that the McCartney killing had "sullied the good name of republicanism."

At an Easter commemoration rally in Clones, he said the continuing failure of those responsible to own up to their actions "compounds the outrage of all tho proudly proclaim their republicanism this Eastertime".


Bloody Sunday: Fourteen Million Words Later ...

Richard Norton-Taylor has taken the drama of the Bloody Sunday inquiry and put it on stage. He explains why

Wednesday March 30, 2005
The Guardian

On a bright spring morning in March 2000, I walked through Derry's Bogside with Nicolas Kent, director of the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, north-west London's old Irish quarter, and Benjamin Zephaniah, then poet in residence at the chambers of the barrister Michael Mansfield.

I now feel I know every street, every corner where unarmed civilians fell dead or wounded, and every spot from which the Paras fired their rifles. Not because I have lived there or even because I have revisited Derry - I haven't. I feel I have come to know the place, and its ghosts, through hearing scores of witnesses and reading thousands of pages of transcript of the Bloody Sunday inquiry. This is the material - about 14m words spoken by more than 900 witnesses in the biggest investigation in British legal history - from which I have distilled the latest "Tribunal Play" at the Tricycle.

Most people know that British paratroopers killed 13 unarmed civil-rights marchers during 20 minutes of heavy gunfire on the streets and in the alleyways of the Bogside on January 30 1972 (a 14th died later from his wounds). Fewer of us know about the tensions between senior army officers, the confused orders, the cover-up and the lies.

Lord Saville, who hopes to report before the end of the year, will not refer to contemporary resonances, but we may. For a start, there is the perception in Britain that UK soldiers are so much better at peacekeeping than others, most notably the Americans, because of their experience in Northern Ireland. This is in spite of the allegations and evidence against British troops in southern Iraq that they have murdered and abused civilians.

There are also uncomfortable present-day resonances for the republicans, in the allegations against the IRA over the killing of Robert McCartney and the embarrassment this caused to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, who admitted for the first time at the Saville inquiry that he was adjutant of the Derry command of the Provisional IRA at the time of Bloody Sunday. And then there is the controversy over internment without trial of suspected terrorists here - which is precisely what the Derry marchers were protesting against on that day in January 1972.

Prime minister Tony Blair agreed to set up a new inquiry into Bloody Sunday in 1998 after it became increasingly clear that the Widgery tribunal established by Edward Heath immediately after the shootings had not been told the truth and had turned a blind eye to inconvenient evidence. The Saville inquiry was, in effect, part of the 1998 Good Friday agreement, a peace process - still incomplete - that included the reform of the police in Northern Ireland, power sharing, the decommissioning of weapons by the paramilitaries, and the closing down of British military garrisons.

The inquiry was seen as one way to put right an injustice to the Catholic community over an event whose significance is difficult to overestimate, one which radicalised a generation of young Catholics and at a stroke recruited many to armed struggle and the Provos.

Jean Hegarty, whose 17-year-old brother, Kevin McElhinney, was shot dead as he tried to crawl to safety in the stairwell of an apartment building, describes Bloody Sunday as the "defining moment in the Troubles". Bernadette McAliskey (née Devlin) who at the time of Bloody Sunday was MP for Mid Ulster, told the inquiry: "What is very easy to forget about Bloody Sunday is the actual enormity of what it was. Before that day, although people were being shot, I did not have a belief that death was an integral part of the equation of seeking justice in this country. After Bloody Sunday, I believed that it was.

"I never for 30 years raised my voice against the ... taking of the war to the British government. For 30 years, as a consequence of Bloody Sunday, my policy was that death is part of this equation. The British army declared war on the people seeking justice in this country on that day. Three thousand and more coffins followed, and years of imprisonment and torture and pain. I cannot forgive the British government for that."

Saville was determined to force as many witnesses as possible to give evidence - soldiers and spooks as well as paramilitaries. He is likely to criticise the army - individual soldiers as well as senior officers. However, his conclusions are unlikely to satisfy those who want prosecutions.

When they were not giving evidence, relatives of the victims of Bloody Sunday followed the inquiry's course intensely as it sat in Derry's Guildhall and in Central Hall, Westminster - the soldiers refused to return to Derry to give evidence. Eamonn McCann, editor of the forthcoming book Saville, by the Bloody Sunday families, interviewed many after all the evidence had been heard.

Many, unsurprisingly, responded bitterly to the ex-Paras' testimonies. This is Liam Wray: "Take the fella that murdered my brother. I have no doubt that that boy probably wouldn't treat a dog the same way in his neighbourhood. But he doesn't feel he did any wrong because he was brought up in the system to see my brother as an enemy."

Michael McKinney told McCann: "My brother was murdered. Somebody must be brought to account for that and I mean from the top down, not from soldiers on the ground. Somebody must be held responsible for what happened on Bloody Sunday."

Kate Nash said: "My brother getting killed was hard to deal with ... but now through this inquiry when you have found out things, you just view everything differently and with suspicion."

For the relatives there were broader lessons to be learned, too, about the current "war on terror". Hegarty said: "While I have no sympathy for the terrorists, the establishment approach to them is not the right approach. I just find the whole Palestine issue so hypocritical. The US is over there doing these things because Saddam Hussein didn't live up to some sanctions that the UN imposed, while Israel just totally ignores tons of them."

"Governments are people who we all put in power and they don't divulge the truth to the public," said McKinney. "Iraq, Palestine, and wherever else. How many Bloody Sundays are there in Iraq? How many other isolated cases have there been in Ireland where the establishment walks free without accountablity?"

Wray said: "It's like Iraq now. Why did we get into the war? And you see people now thinking, 'I don't want to talk about the war,' which is natural. So if Blair can ride that out for the next two months, he will have no problem with Iraq when it comes to the election because people don't want to know any more. And that's the same when it comes to Bloody Sunday."

So many years after Widgery, it became clear that some soldiers, and Ministry of Defence minders, were still prepared to cover up evidence. Like a chorus, soldiers at the inquiry, some of them teenagers at the time of Bloody Sunday, repeated the refrain "I cannot remember" - though a few described how they were bullied by military police into giving false statements after the implications of what they had done began to sink in.

However, much new evidence emerged, too. One paratrooper, identified only as soldier 027, whose serious allegations in interviews with the Belfast Telegraph and Channel 4 helped to persuade Downing Street of the need for a new inquiry, told Saville that on the eve of Blood Sunday, a soldier remarked: "Let us teach these buggers a lesson, we want some kills tomorrow." On the evening after the shootings, he told Saville: "We sat there and while the sounds of the incident had hardly died away, there was almost a recognition that there was a problem that had to be explained away ... It gave us a period to discuss alibis and ammunition ... There was some serious thinking going on by people wanting to cover their arses."

The brigade commander of British troops in Derry, General Andrew MacLennan, admitted the Paras disobeyed his orders not to charge down the Bogside in armoured cars. There is evidence from the inquiry that both the Official and Provisional IRA agreed not to use weapons, for to have done so would have been merely to shoot themselves in the foot, though a few Officials did try to fire back, and missed. One witness, Reg Tester, an Englishman and former sailor in the Royal Navy, who was a quartermaster for the Officials in Derry at the time, described how, "thank God", his rifle jammed.

"If you look carefully/ You will see the impression/ Of a body in the concrete," wrote Zephaniah in his poem Derry Sunday. Listening to the evidence and reading the words of the Saville inquiry is a reminder that we are still haunted by the ghosts of the people who were killed that day.

· Bloody Sunday, Scenes from the Saville Inquiry, is at the Tricycle Theatre, London NW6, from April 7. Box office: 020-7328 1000.


God's Imperialists

by Gary Leupp
published by CounterPunch

I was doing some Patrick's Day reading on Oliver Cromwell's conquest of Ireland, and was struck by the way the Puritan leader justified his brutality in religious terms. It set me thinking. Cromwell is one of those historical figures whose colossal accomplishments are so combined with heinous crimes that it's hard to know how to judge him. Some consider him the leader of the first bourgeois revolution in world history, the Puritan Revolution beginning in 1640 which Ephraim Lipson called "the turning point in the evolution of capitalism." The revolution freed society from a great array of royal edicts that, for example, specified seven-year apprenticeships in various trades. It somewhat freed up relations between employee and employer. It abolished feudal land tenure, closed guilds, and many monopolies. Beginning as a clash between King and Parliament, it established the rule that Parliament determines taxation. The revolution produced a tax system favorable to merchants and manufacturers. It curbed the power of the English church over the courts; broadened suffrage; and promoted tolerance for a range of views among the Protestants (Independents, Presbyterians, Quakers) while readmitting Jews (banned from the country in 1290) although it suppressed Catholicism. It promoted some of the main tenets of modern democracy. Cromwell was surely a great revolutionary leader.

But a monster, too, of a particular religious variety. Sent in 1641 by the Parliament to restore order in Ireland, which had been Catholic since the fifth century and under the British Crown since 1494, the passionate anti-Papist conducted one of the most ferocious invasions and occupations in history. The Puritans quoted the maxim of James I: "Plant Ireland with Puritans, root out papists, and then secure it." Cromwell himself told the people of Dublin upon his arrival that he would lead ".the great work against the barbarous and bloodthirsty Irish, and all their adherents and confederates, for the propagating of the gospel of Christ, the establishing of truth and peace, and restoring that bleeding nation to its former happiness and tranquility." He proceeded to the port town of Drogheda, storming its garrison and putting four thousand to the sword, including about a thousand women, children and friars in the cathedral of St. Peter, afterwards torched by his troops.

Cromwell truly believed he was doing the Lord's work. The Puritans believed themselves to be the "elect" chosen by God as his people. They believed that the British were uniquely favored by God, as shown in the miraculous victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and by England's rapid growth as a maritime nation. Some believed that the English were a lost tribe of Israel. Thus nationalism, religion (including intolerance for Catholicism) and extraordinary arrogance help explain English troops' behavior in Ireland.

"It hath pleased God to bless our endeavors," Cromwell reported after Drogheda. "This hath been a marvelous great mercy." "I am persuaded that this is a righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches" The "great thing" that had been done was "done, not by power or might, but by the Spirit of God." Later after the pillage of Wexford, and the slaying of two thousand more soldiers, priests, women and children, Cromwell wrote that he had not really planned to destroy the town, as it might be of some use, "yet God would not have it so; but by an unexpected providence, in His righteous justice, brought a just judgment upon them; causing them to become a prey to the Soldier"---- which is to say, prey to raping and massacring English conscripts trained to view the Irish as subhuman.

So on the one hand, a great man; on the other, a great devil in the history of relations between Ireland and England. A man who guided by fiercely held religious beliefs committed atrocities that leave a bitter legacy.

When I teach about the Japanese warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (who died in 1598, a year before Cromwell was born) I like to compare him with Cromwell. Uniting Japan after a century of incessant civil wars, Hideyoshi undertook economic and social-engineering policies that encouraged the rapid expansion of the middle class and the appearance of incipient capitalism. He maintained the "free market, free guild" policies of his warlord predecessor Nobunaga, promoted urban growth and village autonomy, encouraged trade with China, Korea and Portugal, and laid down basic governing principles that were to apply for almost three centuries. While he tried to fix the samurai, peasantry, and townspeople into fixed status groups, with merchants at the bottom, in fact the policies he and his successors applied generated an affluent bourgeoisie.

Like Cromwell, Hideyoshi was a brilliant general, and a record of aggressive foreign war also taints his biography. Having brought all of Japan under his own rule by 1590, Hideyoshi proceeded in 1593 to invade neighboring Korea, dispatching 150,000 men to the peninsula. His samurai slaughtered hundreds of thousands, kidnapped and sold into slavery many more, torched palaces, temples and libraries, burned down forests and left the country with one-third the cultivated land it had originally possessed. Among Hideyoshi's memorials is an "Ear Mound" in Kyoto, which supposedly contained the ears cut off 100,000 Koreans and brought back in barrels to Japan to support warriors' claims that they had fought valorously against the enemy. There's a similar "Nose Mound" in Kyushu. Don't worry about the souls of the mutilated dead. Hideyoshi had Buddhist priests say prayers for them when they consecrated these sites.

Hideyoshi like Cromwell saw his mission and military victories in a religious light. Like Cromwell, he regarded his nation as uniquely commissioned by heaven to transform the world. But his nationalism is even more religious. He believed the very islands of Japan were born from the mating of the primordial Shinto deities Izanagi and Izanami. The imperial family is descended in an unbroken line from the first emperor, the great-great grandson of the highest divinity, the Sun Goddess, and all the Japanese are related to the imperial family and to the gods. The fact that Japan alone was spared Mongol conquest, saved by the "winds of the gods" (kamikaze)---typhoons that dispersed the invading fleet on both invasion attempts--- proves its sacredness.

In response to a letter from the Portuguese viceroy in Goa (a Portuguese colony in India and center of the Jesuit missionary activities from East Africa to Japan) relating to Catholic efforts in Japan, Hideyoshi replied: "Ours is the land of the Gods This God is spoken of as Buddhism in India, Confucianism in China, and Shinto in Japan. To know Shinto is to know Buddhism as well as Confucianism." He says that the native religion of Japan includes all of worth in other religious traditions. (Actually Shinto, involving reverence for nature, purification rituals, a primitive mythology, and emphasis on the special creation from the bodies of the gods of the Japanese islands and people, lacks the rich philosophical content of Buddhism or the ethical and metaphysical content of Confucianism. To "know Shinto" is most certainly not to know the wisdom of India and China. But maybe Hideyoshi thought so)

Hideyoshi like Cromwell believed he had been chosen. In a letter demanding that Formosa submit to him in 1593 Hideyoshi explained his divine mission:

When I was about to enter my dear mother's womb, she had an auspicious dream. That night, the sunlight filled her room so it was like noontime inside it. All were overwhelmed with astonishment. The attendants gathered, and the diviner proclaimed: "This is a wondrous sign that when the child reaches his prime, his virtue will shine over the Four Seas, and he will radiate his glory in the ten thousand directions."

Cromwell was a successful proto-imperialist, acquiring Jamaica, Surinam, Nova Scotia and other New World possessions while subduing Ireland. Hideyoshi added nothing to Japan, but even before 1590 began boasting of plans to conquer not only Korea and Formosa but mainland China, India and Persia as well. It was a mad delusion, but Hideyoshi, vaguely aware of the extent of King Phillip II's empire and with about a million battle-hardened samurai on hand, perhaps really thought he could pull it off.

In Korea, Japanese forces provoked a Chinese response as they approached the Yalu (much as U.S. forces provoked a Chinese response while invading North Korea in 1950) and a military stalemate ensued. Hideyoshi died in 1598 (same year as Phillip) and the samurai in Korea, having no great motivation to maintain the fight with Korean or Chinese forces, soon withdrew. Power in Japan fell into the hands of the first Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, in 1600. He negotiated a peace settlement and promoted cordial diplomatic relations with Korea; indeed Korea was the only country with which Japan maintained regular diplomatic contact up to the 1850s. Thereafter a rising, imperialist Japan acquired Korea as a prize in the Russo-Japanese War (1905), and its colonial legacy ending in 1945 along with the invasion of the 1590s produces lingering Korean hostility towards Japan. This is quite comparable to Irish antipathy towards Britain.

You thought, of course, that I'd conclude by making some comparison between these two great men and our conquering president, whom as we know told the Palestinians, "God told me to smite Osama bin Ladin, so I invaded Afghanistan. Then He told me to smite Saddam Hussein, so I invaded Iraq." But I see mostly contrasts. Cromwell and Hideyoshi were highly intelligent men, generals who acquired political power by a mix of military strength, political savvy and powers of persuasion. They oversaw many positive social reforms. They believed God was acting through them in unleashing terror in the world, but both had what we can call a "progressive" side absent in the forty-third president, who smites the American people along with the foreigners.

The moral of the stories is: When you invade countries, deluded by a religious sense of mission, and validate atrocities as evidence of divine favor, you just might generate enduring hate. The Crusades undertaken by Christendom from 1195 to the late fourteenth century are like recent news in the Arab world. Eight centuries later, by proclaiming another "Crusade" against "Islamic terrorism," Bush alienates the entire Muslim world. Today in part of the Ireland that Cromwell subjugated, fiery Presbyterian Rev. Ian Paisley wants to publicly humiliate the Catholics with a public ritual of the IRA turning over all its weapons. The standoff continues. As Japan and Korea quarrel about who owns the Dokto (Takeshima) islets between the countries, the assembly of Japan's Shimane prefecture proclaims a "Takeshima Day" asserting Japanese sovereignty over the uninhabitable rocks. A 54-year old Korean man, a member of the Association for Pacific War Victims, attempts to set himself on fire outside Seoul's Japanese embassy in protest. The Pacific War was already over when he was born, but he is still a victim of it. The evil that men do lives after them in legacies of rage and hate.

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch's merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

He can be reached at:


Race to get 'Dunbrody' ready for Tall Ships

Brendan Keane

Major work is under way to ensure that the replica Irish famine ship, the Dunbrody, is seaworthy in time for the arrival of the Tall Ships flotilla in Waterford estuary in July.

The Dunbrody, which has been at New Ross quay since 2001, is Ireland's largest Tall Ship and a major tourist attraction, with more than 250,000 visitors last year.

The ship has been invited to be the review vessel for the Tall Ships extravaganza as it sails into Waterford on July 6th. The JFK Trust, the organisation responsible for the day-to-day running of the ship, has been planning to make it a fully operational seagoing vessel. It has been in dry dock since February 11th for work, including the installation of an onboard engine.

The Dunbrody was completed and launched in February 2001, at a cost of £4.4 million. Although it was originally intended to be an exhibition ship, the long-term aim of the project was to take the vessel to sea. JFK Trust chief executive officer Sean Reidy is delighted the vessel will take its place among the other Tall Ships of the world in July.

"For the last four years the Dunbrody has been an unrivalled success as far as tourism is concerned," Mr Reidy said.

"However, one of the most common questions we are asked by visitors is when the ship will go to sail, and we are delighted that question will be answered in July."

It would be a great day for New Ross and for everyone involved with the ship when it sails with the other vessels down Waterford estuary.

The invitation to join the flotilla was the opportunity of a lifetime and gave the impetus for the trust to put in place plans to bring the ship up to the required standards of a seagoing vessel, he added.

The significance of having an emigrant ship as a tourist attraction in New Ross has its origins in the fact that John F Kennedy's great-grandfather emigrated to America from the port. His sister, Jean Kennedy-Smith, officiated at the naming of the ship along with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

The Dunbrody will begin its sea trials at the end of June and will be manned by a crew selected by Capt Tom McCarthy, one of the world's most experienced captains of three-masted, square-rig vessels .

On the night of July 6th a special fireworks display will take place to mark the arrival of the flotilla in Waterford

There will also be a special event on board the Dunbrody for international media.

© The Irish Times


Catholics Back In Galway Church After 300 Years

Michelle McDonagh

When the first Catholic Mass in more than 300 years is celebrated at St Nicholas's Collegiate Church in Galway on Sunday, it will mark a remarkable turn of the wheel in the history of the city.

The Church of Ireland building dates to 1320 when it was a Catholic church before the Cromwellian and Williamite historical changes of the 17th century.

Last month the Bishop of Galway, Dr James McLoughlin, gave his permission for weekend Masses to be held at St Nicholas's while the city-centre Augustinian church is closed for a nine-month renovation.

The first Mass to be celebrated at St Nicholas's since 1691 will be held at noon next Sunday, and a full attendance is expected.

The Catholic congregation will be able to attend three weekend Masses as St Nicholas's between now and December at 6.30pm on Saturdays and noon and 6.30pm on Sundays.

Parish priest of the Augustinian Parish, Fr Dick Lyng, has warmly welcomed the generous gesture of the Rev Patrick Towers and the Church of Ireland community in Galway in offering their church to them for the duration of the renovations.

© The Irish Times

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