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November 12, 2006

Assembly Election To Be Held Next March

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 11/13/06 Assembly Election Set To Be Held Next March
BN 11/12/06 Republican Rebels Force SF To Step Up Security
GU 11/13/06 Cath. & Prot. Hail Life In Neutral Zone
CP 11/12/06 Blog: Troubled Challenging Charming W Belfast
CP 11/12/06 Wind That Shakes Barley Review (Longer than Film)
IT 11/13/06 Hugh Leonard Honoured At 80
IT 11/13/06 Davitt's Great Grandson Leads Young Greens
IT 11/13/06 Polish Woman Dies After Cliffs Of Moher Fall


Northern Assembly Election Set To Be Held Next March

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Northern Secretary Peter Hain will this week announce an
Assembly election for early March next year, according to
well-informed London and Dublin sources.

Mr Hain is due to state that the election will be held
during the first nine days in March, most likely on
Wednesday, March 7th, or Thursday, March 8th, or possibly
on Wednesday, March 1st, sources said.

He will declare the election date against growing concern
in Dublin and London that the current deadlock between Sinn
Féin and the DUP over policing could derail the St Andrews

That concern was exacerbated last night after a republican
source said that senior Sinn Féin figures such as Gerry
Adams, Martin McGuinness and Gerry Kelly have stepped up
their security for fear of assassination attempts by
dissident republicans. Sinn Féin fears that a number of
disaffected IRA members concerned about a potential
historic acceptance by Sinn Fein of the PSNI have linked up
with dissidents, the source said.

Mr Hain is to include the March election date in
legislation he is introducing at Westminster on Thursday.
The early announcement of the date may help inject momentum
to the political process which has become stalled and
increasingly soured because of a policing and power-sharing
standoff between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Mr Hain is to meet Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot
Ahern today to discuss these and other problems in the
process. While Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has indicated his
preference for a referendum, rather than elections, to
endorse the St Andrews Agreement, the Government is likely
to bow to what is viewed as a political necessity for

The election rather than a referendum will be particularly
challenging for the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP,
with DUP and Sinn Féin convinced they can gain seats. More
immediately, though, the concern for the British and Irish
governments is how to ensure that Friday week's November
24th deadline for appointing a shadow First Minister and
Deputy First Minister is met.

In the St Andrews Agreement timetable the Assembly is to
meet on November 24th to nominate the Rev Ian Paisley and
Mr McGuinness in these designate posts. Failure to achieve
this deadline would result in the dissolution of the
Assembly and the collapse of the agreement, Mr Hain again
made clear at the weekend, which would also mean there
would be no elections.

A standoff is in place on this issue because the DUP wants
Mr McGuinness to take a pledge of office on November 24th
committing himself to supporting the PSNI, even though the
governments' requirement for this pledge is March 26th when
the Executive and Assembly are scheduled to be fully
reinstated. Sinn Féin however, insists no such pledge can
be taken on Friday week because it would be seen to pre-
empt a special Sinn Féin ardfheis.

© The Irish Times


Republican Rebels Force SF To Step Up Security

12/11/2006 - 19:24:17

Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and other senior Sinn Féin
leaders have had to step up their personal security for
fear of attack from hard-line republicans, it emerged

Republican sources confirmed Sinn Féin’s policing
spokesperson Gerry Kelly has also had to take security
precautions as the party faces pressure to sign up to
policing in the North.

Members of the Provisional Republican Movement as well as
hard-line dissident republicans in the Real IRA, Continuity
IRA and the Irish National Liberation Army are opposing any
move by Sinn Féin to publicly endorse the Police Service of
Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Sinn Féin is facing demands from Ian Paisley's Democratic
Unionist Party (DUP) to endorse publicly the PSNI, the
courts and the rule of law in return for the formation of a
power-sharing government at Stormont next March.

For some republicans that is too much of a price for Sinn
Féin to pay.

A republican source loyal to the Sinn Féin leadership said
tonight: “It is true that a number of leadership figures in
the party have had to step up security.”

Sinn Féin would not comment tonight on the security

However, the reports follow growing speculation that the
party may not be able to hold a special conference on its
policing policy until next January.

Last Friday, Northern Secretary Peter Hain and Minister for
Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern set in train the Irish and
British governments’ timetable for power sharing after the
North’s parties gave their responses to the St Andrews plan
for reviving devolution.

The first key date will be November 28 when Ian Paisley and
Martin McGuinness are due to be appointed Shadow First and
Deputy First Ministers at Stormont.

However, the DUP have begun to cast doubt over whether that
target date can be achieved because they are concerned
Gerry Adams has not yet called a meeting of his national
executive to consider a proposal for a special party
conference on policing.

In recent days Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness have stressed
they are not yet in a position to summon party members to a
special conference because the policing issue has not been
completely resolved.

They want the DUP to commit themselves to a date for the
transfer of policing and justice powers from Westminster to
a future Stormont Executive, and to also agree the type of
government departmental model which will handle the issue.

Sinn Féin leaders have been concerned by remarks by the
DUP’s North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds which appear to suggest
the transfer of policing and justice powers - which needs
his party’s support – would not happen in a political

DUP Policing Board member Ian Paisley Junior, whose father
held talks in Downing Street yesterday with British prime
minister Tony Blair, today warned Sinn Féin their failure
to address policing was affecting the timetable for

“As a result of the failure of Sinn Féin to call on their
party and their supporters to endorse and embrace the PSNI,
the timetable for devolution has already been adversely
altered,” the North Antrim Assembly member warned.

“There must be no further stalling on the part of Sinn

“The central question is whether they are prepared to
support the fundamentals of law and order on the same basis
as normal democratic parties or whether they intend to hide
behind excuse and rhetoric in a bid to avoid taking
difficult decisions.

“The question of support for policing and Sinn Féin’s go-
slow attitude to it is clear for all to see.

“There is nowhere left to run on this issue. If they expect
to convince people in Northern Ireland they are no longer
engaged in a subversive campaign designed to destroy the
state and have instead turned to the pursuit of their
agenda through exclusively peaceful and democratic means,
in support for and working with the police, will be evident
from Sinn Féin.

“Decision time for republicans has arrived.”


Catholics And Protestants Hail Life In The Neutral Zone

Cross-community housing estate turns its back on sectarian

Owen Bowcott, Ireland correspondent
Monday November 13, 2006
The Guardian

There are no union flags or Irish tricolours, no painted
kerbstones, no paramilitary murals, no intimidating
graffiti. Carran Crescent, Northern Ireland's first
purpose-built, cross-community housing estate, may be a
vision of a more tolerant future.

Protestants, Catholics and recently arrived eastern
European workers have all chosen to live alongside one
another in this redbrick development on the outskirts of
Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

In a society where 94% of social housing estates are
strictly segregated along sectarian lines, the decision to
embrace a shared neighbourhood signals the fading of
collective suspicions and long-held fears about security.

"It's like a fresh start here," said Michelle Irvine, one
of the new residents. "There are no ghosts here, no past.
You don't have that feeling of conflict you have in older

She has moved out of a nearby nationalist estate where
telegraph poles are topped by green, white and orange Irish
flags, black banners in remembrance of IRA hunger strikers
or placards of republican Easter lilies.

"When you see the hunger strike flags it's like they are
trying to get you to take sides and I don't want to take a
position on that. I wanted to live where people wouldn't
know what religion I'm from. I want to mix with all
different kinds. I don't want to know whether they are
Protestant or Catholic. I'm interested in whether they are
a good neighbour or not."

Nora Price, Michelle Irvine's immediate neighbour, is a
Catholic. She agreed that religion should not define where
people live. "Everybody is entitled to live and let live,"
she said. "It's very quiet here. It's good to be mixed."

The success of Carran Crescent has encouraged Northern
Ireland's housing executive to replicate the model in other
areas. The next scheme will be in Loughbrickland, County
Down. Others may follow in Ballycastle, Magherafelt and
Belfast. The Northern Ireland Office minister, David
Hanson, has announced plans to develop integrated social
housing in a project close to the city centre near the
Shankill Road.

The pilot project at Carran Crescent has triggered a surge
of enthusiasm among those who believe they can emulate the
growth of integrated schools which educate Catholic and
Protestant children together.

Enniskillen was a good place to begin. It is by no means
the most polarised community in the province but has
witnessed its share of sectarian violence. Nineteen years
ago this weekend an IRA bomb hidden near the town's
cenotaph exploded without warning, ripping through crowds
attending the annual Remembrance Day service. Eleven people
were killed and 63 injured.

Kenny Fawcett watched the parade. The 40-year-old is now a
tenant on the new estate. "I was standing with the crowds
that day. I saw the bricks and dust go up in the air," he
recalled. "It was a bad day for the town. I don't want to
live in an estate of one [political] type or another. I
like a mixed estate. I'm in a mixed marriage. I hope this
idea goes around the whole of [Northern Ireland]. We have
all signed up to an agreement that there will be no flags,
no painted kerbstones."

The houses, mainly semi-detached, are separated by low
brick walls surmounted by slender metal fences. They have
been built in conjunction with a local housing association,
Ulidia. A "shared futures officer" has been appointed to
oversee the contract signed by the tenants and to encourage
dialogue should there be any problems.

"It's not about eroding people's culture," said Elma
Newberry, the head of the Housing Executive's community
cohesion unit. "It's easier to have a neutral area. It's a
matter of what's acceptable to the people on the estate.
The question to ask is, why are people flying flags?"

Housing issues have been fundamental to the Troubles.
Northern Ireland's civil rights movement began in 1968 with
protests after Dungannon district council allocated a house
to a 19-year-old unmarried Protestant woman who was a
secretary to a Unionist politician rather than offering it
to local Catholic families with children.

Once the violence started, the killings and riots provoked
what was said to have been one of the biggest movements of
population since the second world war. Sixty thousand
people, mostly in Belfast, were displaced between 1971 and
1973, establishing the pattern of exclusively Catholic and
Protestant estates that still endures. Even after the
paramilitary ceasefires, polarisation continued with the
construction of fresh peace lines to separate rival


Blog: Troubled Challenging Charming West Belfast

About Me: Christopher P. Cunningham, Belfast, Northern
Ireland, GB

In May 2005, I was awarded a Rotary Foundation
Ambassadorial Scholarship and appointed to my first choice
of study: Queen's University, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
After a year and a half of preparation and patience, the
day that would begin my Irish expedition finally arrived on
10 September 2006, and I departed from Louisville for
Belfast. At Queen's, I am enrolled in the School of
Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, and will
earn from the school a Master of Arts in Comparative Ethnic
Conflict after I depart in August 2007. I grew up in
Louisville, went to school there, and graduated from the
University of Louisville in 2005, with a Bachelor of Arts
in Political Science. Now, I am a Postgraduate student in
Northern Ireland. I hope this blog will tell that story...

Last week I went on a "black taxi tour" of Belfast. A local
cab driver took me and my friends Adrienne and Dayna, of
California, into the heart of West Belfast, which is the
"epicenter" of both republican nationalism and loyalist
unionism, and which saw the worst of the Troubles - I know
that of the 4,000 people killed in the Northern Irish
conflict, a full half occurred in Belfast, and certainly
most of those took place in the sectarian, segregated
working-class neighborhoods on the western side of the
city. I've been there before, but every time I venture into
West Belfast I am always astonished that the two hostile
communities, so antagonistic of each other, exist in
segregation, but literally side-by-side. In some cases they
are so close that "peacelines", huge concrete unsurpassable
fortifications, separate the dueling communities (see
picture). Within each area, locals are friendly and
welcoming of tourists, something that even the cab driver
got a laugh out of since "never in our wildest dreams was
it thought ten years ago that someday we'd be driving
tourists into the heart of West Belfast."

In contrast to the constant green that characterize the
sprawling hills of Ireland behind it, West Belfast is
typified by kaleidoscopic splashes of color, in the form of
brown and red buildings, painted sidewalks, flags, symbols,
and of course the chromatic murals that typically
illustrate the conflict's more romantic interpretations.
Whether Catholic and Protestant, the communities are subtly
beautiful, unique and sad all at once; of course they are
tinged with hints of tragedy such as the occurrence of an
oddly located cemetery, a Protestant shop known for having
been bombed, a tattered and rippled tri-colour flag, and a
plaque marking the spot where an innocent bystander was
killed. I dare say, despite some of its inhabitants
discomfort with the wording, that West Belfast is at once
divided by its walls and united by the conflict that
rendered them necessary.


"The Wind That Shakes The Barley" Sends Revisionists
Yapping At History's Heels

Ireland's Freedom Struggle and the Foster School of

By Niall Meehan

Ken Loach's 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley', currently
enjoying huge success at the Irish box office and the
winner of the 2006 Cannes Palm d'Or winner, continues to
stir up strong passions. The film depicts the struggle
between the IRA and British forces during the Irish War of
Independence and the civil war that followed the Anglo
Irish Treaty of 1922.

In Britain, The Sun called Loach's film "the most pro IRA
ever". Ruth Dudley Edwards, an Irish historian, asked in
the Daily Mail why the "Marxist" film director Ken Loach
"loath[es] his country so much". Many critics of the film
cited the work of one historian in particular, Peter Hart.
I must declare an interest here. In the Irish Times letters
pages in the summer of 2006, Hart claimed that I
"misrepresent" his work, accusing him of stating that
"ethnic cleansing" directed at Protestants was a feature of
IRA actions. In fact I I did not state any such thing,
though, had I done so, it would have been an accurate
observation since Hart did use precisely that phraseology.
The historian misrepresented himself and forgot his own
history. Had he consulted his university department web
site under "research", before putting pen to paper, he
would have seen that he researches "ethnic conflict and
cleansing" in Ireland. ( The correspondence is online at

Indeed one strand in the criticism of Loach's film is that
it does not deal with alleged IRA sectarianism toward
Ireland's Protestant community. In writing a largely
favourable review in History Ireland (Sept-Oct 2006), TCD
historian Brian Hanley commented briefly on the absence of
such a treatment in the film. Ireland's leading
'revisionist' historian, Professor Roy Foster of Oxford
University, [a Waterford man who achieves the amazing feat
in his standard history of Ireland of suggesting that the
Great Famine of the mid-1840s somehow didn't really occur,
Editors] invoked Peter Hart in his swipes at Loach. The
relevant text here is Hart's The IRA and its Enemies
(1998). Hart concluded that the IRA was sectarian and that
the Irish War of Independence was a battle for 'ethnic
supremacy'. Hart argued previously, (though he's now trying
to haul his foot out of his mouth), that the headline-
provoking phrase "ethnic cleansing" could be used to
describe certain actions by republican forces. In
disagreeing with cultural critic Luke Gibbons' rejection of
the term, Foster agreed with Hart and, by way of example,
cited the "murder" of the Protestant Pearson brothers in
Offaly in 1921.

While giving one source for his view, Alan Stanley's I Met
Murder on the Way, Foster omitted an alternative account by
Offaly historian Patrick Heaney. Heaney indicated that the
Pearson brothers were combatants who shot at and hit IRA
members, were themselves sectarian in their Protestant
ascendancy outlook, and contacted British authorities in
Dublin Castle to inform on IRA activists. After the IRA
weighed the evidence, they decided to execute the Pearsons
and then did so. Heaney wrote on this subject some years
ago, prior to Stanley's account, which itself fails to
address Heaney's work. Heaney updated his account with
corroborative material from the newly released files from
the Bureau of Military History in early 2006. Pat Muldowney
wrote on this subject in Church and State magazine (Winter
& Spring 2006), and it was released also on the Internet,
on Perhaps Professor Foster was unaware of
these sources of information, a consistent pattern of
evasive behavior within 'revisionist' historiography, as we
shall see. From his academic perch Foster dismisses those
he deigns to term "local"--albeit unnamed -- historians,
who presume to criticize Peter Hart, about whom there is in
fact plenty to criticize. The historians Brian Murphy and
Meda Ryan have charged him with bias and distortion. How,
Ryan asks, can Hart claim to have interviewed an anonymous
veteran of the famous November 1920 Kilmichael ambush in
Cork six days after the last veteran died. She has not
received an answer. Four of six issues of History Ireland
in 2005 were devoted to coverage of the views of the
antagonists. The BBC has covered the debate (BBC radio, BBC
online and BBC history magazine), and the controversy has
featured in Ireland's main newspapers. The History Ireland
debate is online at and it has been
given extensive coverage at

1918 Election

The debate in relation to what happened in West Cork during
the 1916-21 period and the consequent overlapping with
critical commentary on The Wind that Shakes the Barley is
part of a deeper debate about Ireland's political and
social formation. There's been a meandering debate in the
Irish press about the validity of the violence, (of which,
it has to be emphasized) by the standards of the twentieth
century wars of national liberation, there was a tiny
amount. British refusal to recognise Sinn Fein's
overwhelming electoral victory in 1918 lead to the War of
Independence of 1919-21, the Anglo Irish Treaty of 1921,
the civil war of 1922-23 and the enduring partition of the
island of Ireland. [The problem is that these days
Ireland's anti-nationalist social democrats are terribly
embarrassed by terms like "national liberation" or
"colonial oppression" or--God help us--"class struggle" or
"British savagery" of which there was an abundance, and so
deprecate the whole Independence struggle and somehow wish
it hadn't happened, or if it had happened it should have
been fought out over cups of latte with the antagonists
whacking each other with damp copies of Irish Times special
supplements on education. AC.]

During the 1970s the teaching of history in Irish schools
and colleges was an early casualty of the paranoia of the
elite, as they gazed in horror at increasing violence in
Northern Ireland, particularly after the civil rights
movement there was shot off the streets by British
paratroopers in Derry in 1972. The partition settlement of
the early 1920s was in crisis because the six-county
British enclave in northern Ireland was dysfunctional at
every significant level.

Given the obvious fact that Irish history appeared to
justify the use of violence against colonial or British
sectarian government it seemed safer to kick the very idea
of historical narrative into to the dustbin.. of history.
This was supposed to de-politicise history. Naturally, it
had the opposite effect.

But this modern modishness was a cry from a conservative
establishment terrified at the prospect of violence in the
Six Counties undermining the established and stable
structures of 26- county society in the south. At one point
in the mid 1970s the Irish government in Dublin was spooked
at the thought that Harold Wilson's British Labor
government was planning to leave Northern Ireland. A
government elite was amenable to destroying the ideological
underpinning of its existence (the national struggle),
because the ideology of the nation (32 counties) undermined
the stability of the state (26 counties), that itself
legitimised the sense of nationhood. It was a bind.

For War of Independence IRA, read Provisional IRA. For
south then, read north, as in Northern Ireland, now. Dr
Conor Cruise O'Brien, the leading ministerial force behind
state censorship of broadcasting and the onslaught on the
brittle nature of the 'official' nationalism of the
Republic of Ireland, threw his weight behind a re-tread of
Irish history. The establishment's door was thrown open, to
career-enhancing revisionism in the history departments of
Irish universities. As minister in the 1973-77 Irish
government, Conor Cruise O'Brien exercised ideological
control though censorship and enforced reorganization in
Irish broadcasting. Ministerial colleagues in charge of the
army and the police ensured a vigorous physical control of
the populace.

O'Brien was himself fully in sympathy this. On page 355 of
his 1998 memoir My Life and Themes he relates his police
special branch driver telling him how police allegedly
discovered the whereabouts of a group of maverick
republicans who had kidnapped Dutch industrialist Tiede
Herrema in 1975:

"One of the gang had been arrested, and we felt sure he
knew where Herrema was. So this man was transferred under
Branch escort from a prison in the country to a prison in
Dublin, and on the way the car stopped. Then the escort
started asking him questions and when at first he refused
to answer they beat the shit out of him. Then he told them
where Herrema was". O' Brien adds, "I refrained from
telling this story to Garret [Fitzgerald] or Justin
[Keating - both ministerial colleagues] because I thought
it would worry them. It didn't worry me".

Some members of the Irish police tried to tip off cabinet
ministers to the existence of a group in the Gardai (Irish
police) whose task it was to systematically beat
confessions out of suspects. Dr Fitzgerald revealed some
years later his attempts to bring this subject up at the
cabinet table, but also his failure. During this 1973-77
period, the biggest mass murder of the troubles occurred,
the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974. Allegedly,
British security forces were involved in directing unionist
paramilitaries in the Ulster Volunteer Force. The British
government refused to cooperate with an enquiry, under Mr
Justice Barron, set up by the Dublin government many years
later. Barron noted this lack of cooperation and also that
the Irish police investigation was incompetent and
curtailed within a short period of time. Barron also noted
that the Dublin government was uninterested in pursuing the
matter, either through police enquiry or with the British
government. They had other priorities, such as the teaching
of history.

When Dr O'Brien brandished his tolerance for police torture
in 1998, Irish newspapers did not comment on it. The Sunday
Times reported it in its "culture" section. Near the end of
his relatively brief tenure of office, in 1976, Dr O'Brien
revealed to the late Bernard Nossiter of the Washington
Post that he intended to imprison the then Editor of the
Irish Press, Tim Pat Coogan. Coogan recalls:

"Bud Nossiter was the Washington Post's London
correspondent and he had come to Ireland to do a piece on
some anti-terrorist legislation which was before the Dail
Irish Parliament at the time. Because of the situation in
Northern Ireland, the law proposed to curb the kind of
material newspapers could print. .....

"Bud showed up in my office unexpectedly. He told me I had
better watch out. He had asked the Minister for Posts and
Telegraphs for an example of the sort of material which the
proposed law would curtail. The Minister, Dr. Conor Cruise
O'Brien, pulled open a drawer filled with clippings from
the Letters to the Editor column of the Irish Press. Bud,
coming from the paper that broke Watergate, was naturally
stunned at the thought of prosecuting people for exercising
the elementary democratic right of writing to a newspaper.
But it turned out that it was not the letter writers whom
it was planned to hit, but me, the editor."

Irish Voice, October 27 1992

Coercion helped to stabilize a new consensus among the
elite, one that re-defined the relationship between Ireland
and Britain.

Enter Roy Foster

This is where Roy Foster came in. Terry Eagleton commented
in his review of Foster's biography of the poet WB Yeats:

"Foster is not terribly at home with ideas and
abstractions. If Yeats had too many of them, his biographer
has too few. He is shrewd, pragmatic, civilized and ironic,
averse to big pictures and grand theories. This is one
reason he is a favored son of the Anglo-Saxon
establishment, which likes to think small. Another reason
is that, as a commentator on Irish affairs, he tells the
British by and large just what they want to hear about the
place ... "

In fact, Foster has scrupulously concealed beneath the
suavities of his coruscating prose style an enormous chip
on his shoulder. Like the members of many an ousted
governing caste, from Malaysia to Zimbabwe, he harbors a
smoldering resentment of the native anticolonial movement.
Republicanism in his view is less a logical extension of
Enlightenment democracy than a bigoted ethnic conspiracy to
sideline posh Prods like himself. When an argument touches
on this sore point, as Irish arguments often do, he finds
it hard to keep his scholarly cool.

There is, for example, a notable difference in tone between
his dispassionate treatment of Yeats's autocratic ideas and
ridiculous posturings, and the sneery sardonicism that
lurks just beneath the surface when he describes a Gaelic
congress or festival. If Gerry Adams had written for
himself the kind of breathtakingly arrogant epitaph that
Yeats did, one suspects that Foster's response to it would
not be quite so kid-gloved. He writes occasionally of
"extreme" politics, meaning those who threaten his own
interests. Yeats's own far-right views are not granted such
an epithet.

The Nation December 8, 2003

If I were to take issue with any of the above, it would be
to point out that while Foster may write from the vantage
point of a sensibility in tune with British condescension
toward things Irish, reference to his religion and social
standing, "posh Prod", may obscure the extent to which he
reflects prejudices that are quintessentially Irish and
that gain sustenance and support from within the Irish body
politic. The standard feature of such approaches tends to
see sectarianism as an internal Irish disease and British
responses as an attempt to regulate it in as fair a manner
as possible in highly disagreeable circumstances.
Notwithstanding the obstacle of a constitutionally
Protestant monarch, or perhaps by subsuming WASP
superiority into the argument, Britain was seen as
administratively plural and diverse, the Irish as singular
and perverse in their obsessional hatreds ( said hatred
including, inexplicably, things British). We are dealing
with anglified Irishness that is overtly 'patriotic' in
relation to its class interests, but not demonstrably in
relation to the political and historical sequence that gave
those class interests an independent state in which to


But it is not merely a matter of attitudinising. It is
necessary for the proponents of such a view to leave bits
out of the story, for fear that it would lead to a
conclusion, and conclusions are dangerous things.

This could not be more clearly evinced than than in
Foster's animus against Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams,
which he combined with a lamentable assault on Angela's
Ashes author, Frank McCourt , in the New York Times:

Evelyn Waugh once remarked that to the Irishman there are
only two ultimate realities, hell and the United States.
The McCourt version postulates that you have to experience
the first in order to be redeemed by the second. Thus the
McCourt oeuvre, apparently trading in misery, actually
sells on synthetic moral uplift.

This supercilious condescension could be envy, could be a
problem with American culture, Irish-American culture, with
Irish culture, or could be all four. In the same piece
Gerry Adams is derided for not opening himself up to
prosecution by detailing participation in the IRA. This is,
says Foster, like "a biography of Field Marshal Montgomery
that leaves out the British Army"

Perhaps the comment on Bernard Law Montgomery, the son of
an Ulster clergyman, and arch irritant of another jumped up
colonial, General Dwight D Eisenhower, is misplaced and
should have been directed by Foster at his mirror.

Brian P Murphy observed in relation to Foster and the
Kilmichael Ambush of November 1920, the one that changed
the course of the Anglo Irish War of 1919-21:

Roy Foster, in his Modern Ireland, despite dealing with
Cork in late 1920, does not mention the Kilmichael Ambush.
He does quote from "an English Brigade Major" who said, "I
think I regarded all civilians as "Shinners", and I never
had any dealings with any of them". Foster, however, does
not advert to the significant fact that this Brigade Major
was Bernard Montgomery, of Second World War renown, who was
based in Cork, nor does he cite the previous sentence of
Montgomery that "personally my whole attention was given to
defeating the rebels and it never bothered me a bit how
many houses were burned".

Foster, who turns up his nose at "prefabricated ideas", is
at home fabricating prejudice.

A failure to entertain pertinent but uncomfortable facts is
a feature of revisionist historiography. If Hart is guilty
in his The IRA and its Enemies, then it could be said that
he learned his trade from an apt instructor. So impressed
was Professor Foster with Peter Hart's study of the IRA in
West Cork in 1998 that he chaired the jury that unanimously
awarded Hart the Ewart Biggs prize for his book published
that same year ("Awarded in memory of the British
Ambassador to Ireland who was assassinated in Dublin in
1976 [by the IRA]. The prize was established in 1977 [by
the late Jane Ewart Biggs] and aims to create greater
understanding between the peoples of Britain and Ireland,
or co-operation between the partners of the European
Community. It is awarded to a book, a play or a piece of
journalism that best fulfils this aim.")

One of the great claims of the revisionist historiography
that emerged out of the Irish Kulturkampf of the 1970s was
that it is objective and free of bias. It is the
alternative to Irish nationalist history. Eagleton again on
Foster's tellingly entitled The Irish Story: Telling Tales
and Making it Up in Ireland:

"Foster, the great demythologiser of Ireland . . . like
most demythologisers . . . remains ensnared in a few myths
of his own. He cannot, for example, free himself of the
old-fashioned liberal prejudice that political commitment
is inevitably reductive. Though 'the Irish story' is
needlingly partisan, its author tends to believe that
partisanship, like halitosis, is what the other fellow

The Guardian (London) October 27, 2001

The critic and author, Seamus Deane, pointed out: "by
refusing to be Irish nationalists, (revisionists) simply
become defenders of Ulster or British nationalism, thereby
switching sides".

Revisionist history enters the realm of the absurd. Instead
of the Irish being the victims of sectarian rule, they
become responsible. Unionists or loyalists, who operated
sectarian politics in the name of an explicitly Protestant
British overlordship, become its victims.


Steven King, an advisor to one time Ulster Unionist Party
leader, David Trimble, wrote on the Loach film under the
headline "pure and utter propaganda" in the Irish Examiner.
King suggested that in the film, "the Irish capacity for
oppressing each other is blithely dismissed". This was not
a comment on unionist politics, but part of an assertion
that in Cork, where the film is set, "many a Cork
Protestant was shot in pure sectarian reprisals".

In the Irish Examiner, I wrote a defence of the film and
pointed out some home truths with regard to British
responsibility for racist and sectarian attitudes--
attitudes, which, incidentally, Peter Hart excised from a
book he edited on a British intelligence assessment of the
conflict, without informing the reader.

In response to, and in disagreement with my approach,
researcher Robin Bury referred to Hart's work. Bury said
that republican persecution forced Protestants to flee
their homes, farms and businesses.

In developing his argument in the Irish Examiner, Bury
acknowledged "the assistance of Dr David Fitzpatrick of
TCD" (who supervised Peter Hart's PhD thesis that became
his 1998 book) and referred to "the 3,143 files" submitted
to the Irish Distress Committee. Bury quoted from "the
Presbyterian journal The Witness" and cited WT Cosgrave in
the Dail in June 1922 to the effect that "inoffensive
Protestants of all classes are being driven from their

Does this criticism check out? An examination of Bury's
sources is a useful test case for the accusation of
republican sectarianism.


Taking the last point first, the Cosgrave remark cannot be
found in the minute book of Dail Eireann (the Irish
parliament), though, curiously, Robin Bury's Reform Society
previously ascribed the exact same remark to the Church of
Ireland Gazette. A movable quotation for every occasion

Furthermore, The Witness was a private journal published in
Belfast, not a Presbyterian Church publication. Bury quoted
the editorial: "the plight of the Protestants [is] sad in
the extreme. They are marked, they are watched, they are
raided; some have been dragged out and shot like beasts".
The editorial was in fact based on a report from "the
Honourable HM Pollock, DL, MP, the Minister of Finance in
the Northern Parliament...". This was not mentioned by
Bury. It is stretching credulity to regard as objective a
report from a unionist politician, who was in office while
the well-documented persecution and oppression of the
nationalist population in the North of Ireland was in

In any case the "truth" of the Sinn Fein claim of non-
sectarianism was actually admitted in the editorial, though
backhandedly: "their vengeance falls upon all who hinder
them without regard to creed or class". However,
"Protestants are loyal and law abiding, and feel it as a
duty which they owe to God and their own conscience to
support the forces of the Crown". The lengthy diatribe
mixed political acuity and sectarian paranoia: "Sinn Fein
is now a diabolic agency out to destroy the British Isles
and the British Empire".

This material is merely evidence of propaganda.

Mr Biggs

There is, however, evidence of persecution of Protestants,
and from a very interesting source in the London Times in
late 1920:

"The only damage to loyalists' premises has been done by
the police. In July [1920] they burned the stores of Mr
G.W. Biggs, the principal merchant in Bantry, a man highly
respected, a Protestant, and a lifelong Unionist, with a
damage of over £25,000, and the estate office of the late
Mr. Leigh-White, also a Unionist. Subsequently.., the
police fired into Mr. Biggs's office, while his residence
has since been commandeered for police barracks. He has had
to send his family to Dublin and to live himself in a
hotel. Only two reasons can be assigned for the outrages on
Mr. Biggs, one that he employed Sinn Feiners, the other
a... statement of his protesting against Orange allegations
of Catholic intolerance."

This account was in one of three letters to The Times from
J Annan Bryce, aged 77, of West Cork. Annan Byce was a
former Scottish Liberal MP, Far East British colonial
functionary, and brother of a British Chief Secretary to
Ireland. Annan Bryce's second letter mentioned his wife
Violet, who in 1916 "opened at Glengarriff the first
convalescent home for [British] officers in Ireland":

" as reported in the papers today, my wife was arrested at
Holyhead [in Wales], deported to Kingstown, lodged in
Bridewell there, and released without charge after four
hours' detention. Such arrests are of daily occurrence in
Ireland, where any and every interference with liberty had
been legalized by recent legislation, but I am not aware
under what authority they have become lawful in Great
Britain. My wife had been invited to address a meeting in
Wales about [British] reprisals, a subject on which she is
a competent witness. .. She has been able to see the effect
of the policy of reprisals, and has suffered from them in
her own person. Her garage has been burned she had been
repeatedly threatened with the burning down of her house,
and on one occasion was in imminent danger of death from
the rifle of a policeman"

Reprisal burnings, killings and torture became a feature of
British prosecution of the War. The burned a city (Cork),
towns (Fermoy) and villages (Balbriggan). And they burned
creameries. In fact they burned property that in the main
was held by Protestants, who owned most of the significant
property. It is what happened when soldiers of the Essex
Regiment ransacked Bandon, otherwise known as "the
Londonderry of the South". The British also burned hundreds
of small homesteads owned or occupied by those assumed to
be republicans or their supporters. Tom Barry recounted in
his great book Guerrilla Days in Ireland (1949) that a
counter burning strategy was required. The IRA
systematically burned property owned by "Britishers", that
is owned by those they saw as actively collaborating with
their enemy. It had the desired effect from a republican
perspective, as the rateable valuation of the 'Britisher's'
property was far in excess of the hovels in the possession
of the republicans and their supporters. Howls of outrage
aimed at the British authorities came from supporters
watching their ample properties going up in flames. It put
an end to the British reprisal burnings, much to republican
relief as they were fast running out of property owned by

Writing in 1949 Tom Barry noted British attempts to whip up
sectarian fear by publishing the religion of a spy executed
by the IRA if he was Protestant, and ignoring it if he was
not. John Borgonovo's Spies, Informers, and the "Anti-Sinn
Fein Society is published by Irish Academic Press in 2006.
It examined IRA actions in the Cork City area. Borgonovo,
from San Francisco, stated

Overall, my research revealed no IRA campaign against the
city's Protestant, unionist and ex-servicemen institutions
and leaders.

Among Cork's executed "spies", clear evidence linked some
of them to the crown forces, while others were shot without
any explanation. Today it is impossible to establish guilt
in many cases. British records about informants are
fragmented, incomplete, and often unreliable. IRA records
were destroyed during the conflict for security reasons.
However, surviving documentation indicates the Cork city
IRA only targeted civilians it believed were passing
information to the crown forces.

The Cork city Volunteers certainly had the means to
identify local citizens working with British forces.
Volunteers systematically intercepted mail, tapped phone
lines and monitored telegraphs around the city. Republican
spies and sympathisers could be found in key workplaces
throughout the town. IRA intelligence officers closely
watched British bases and personnel. One IRA spy penetrated
the British army's Cork command at its highest level, and
had access to sensitive information that we must assume
included the identities of local civilian informants. Her
story can be found in Florence and Josephine O'Donoghue's
War of Independence, which I edited.

Irish Times July 14 2006

The murderous activities of the infamous British
Auxiliaries (staffed by former British Officers, paid £1.00
per day) and Black & Tans (staffed by former ordinary
ranks, paid 10 shillings a day) lead to a decision by the
IRA to confront these elite British forces. On November 30,
1920, Tom Barry commanded 36 IRA riflemen at the Kilmichael
ambush, in which an entire force of Auxiliary officers were
killed (one was left for dead and survived, though
incapacitated). This successful action helped to change the
course and character of the conflict, to the advantage of
the Irish side.

False Surrender

In an argument that gained an enormous of media publicity,
Peter Hart questioned the longstanding account of an
Auxiliary false surrender at Kilmichael, leading to the
deaths of IRA volunteers who stood up from their positions
to take this apparent surrender. Hart accused Tom Barry of
"lies and evasions" and alleged that Barry had ordered a
massacre of unarmed prisoners. This was an important part
of the development of Hart's thesis that ethnic hatreds
lead to shootings of uninvolved Protestants in West Cork.
In History Ireland one can read argument and counter
argument. Hart suffered accusations of censorship of
evidence and deliberate distortion, as well as questioning
by Meda Ryan of Hart's claim to have interviewed an
anonymous veteran of the ambush six days after the last
veteran, Ned Young, died on November 13, 1989. It is said
that history enables the dead to come alive, but they do
not usually report post mortem.

Brian P Murphy's recently published study, The Origin and
Organisation of British Propaganda in Ireland (2006),
examined the extent to which Hart had relied on material
published by a Propaganda Department in Dublin Castle (the
seat of British administration) under Basil Clarke.
Clarke's philosophy of news manipulation was sophisticated
in that it relied, as he put it, on propaganda by news, not
by views, leading to verisimilitude, or "the appearance of
truth". David Miller of, editor of Tell me
Lies, on news manipulation of the conflict in Iraq,
contributes a foreword to the Murphy study, in which he
commented on the significant contribution of the Dublin
Castle propaganda team to the British tradition of news
manipulation and news management.

Murphy also, in an appendix, outlined how Peter Hart
systematically misused source material. For instance, Hart
left out of his account of the Dunmanway killings of April
1922 a British admission that Protestant loyalists in the
area were systematically supplying information. In fact
they were also organised in paramilitary style in aid of
British forces. Hart's attempt to elide reference to his
censorship in his subsequent editorship (2003) of the
British intelligence assessment, called The Record of the
Rebellion in the 6th Divisional Area, lead an Irish Times
reviewer to accuse him of being "disingenuous".


In addition, as Murphy pointed out, Hart committed a new
act of censorship in his editorship of The Record. He
failed to inform the reader that he left out an entire
section of the British intelligence assessment on "The
People". It stated, in part:

"Practically all commanders and intelligence officers
considered that 90 per cent of the people were Sinn Feiners
or sympathisers with Sinn Fein, and that all Sinn Feiners
were murderers or sympathisers with murder. Judged by
English standards, the Irish are a difficult and
unsatisfactory people. Their civilisation is different and
in many ways lower than that of the English. They are
entirely lacking in the Englishman's respect for truth . .
. Many were of a degenerate type and their methods of
waging war were in the most case barbarous, influenced by
hatred and devoid of courage."

Aside from the act of omission, here is proof of British
racism and, though being aware of IRA shootings of
informers, there is no accusation that the IRA harboured
sectarian thoughts or feelings, or more importantly, that
they gave expression to them in action. Hart referred to
the Record of the Rebellion as "the most trustworthy
source" available. Quite.

Tax evasion

However, back to the task at hand. An examination of the
British government's Irish Distress Committee is next on
the list of sources submitted by Bury.

An interim report in November 1922 stated: "of the 1,873
cases approved for emergency relief, about 600 were
Protestant and just over 1,000 Catholic". Persecutors of
Protestants persecuted more Catholics than Protestants, it
would appear. The ending of colonial administration and
economic devastation, contributed to in no small measure by
the burning of factories towns and cities by British
forces, and civil war, lead to the departure of many. This
included many Protestants who were part of the edifice of
colonial government, or who were fearful as a result of
their activities on behalf of the Crown. It also included
those who believed British propaganda to the effect that
republicans would treat Protestants in the same way as
Roman Catholics were treated in the North of Ireland by the
new unionist administration there. The unauthorised
killings of former loyalist agents near Dunmanway in April
1922 heightened this fear considerably, as the anonymous
perpetrators did not announce the reason for the killings
publicly. It was as a result of Peter Hart's claims of
ethnic cleansing that the linking of the deceased names to
a British Auxiliary intelligence diary, left behind after
their evacuation of Dunmanway, was published in 2003 in Tom
Barry IRA Freedom Fighter, by Meda Ryan.

As an example of the fear generated by the killings, the
Protestant founder of the Skibbereen Historical Society,
Willy Kingston, who had willingly taken part in illegal
Sinn Fein Courts, including inviting arrest by defying the
British authorities openly, and who supported the aims, if
not the methods, of republican separatists, fled West Cork
with a large number of mainly male co-religionists in the
aftermath. He returned soon afterwards to practice law in
the town, became quite prominent, setting up the historical
society, and survived contentedly into old age, eventually
dying in 1965. His experience was, I suggest, typical and
confirms the outlook of most southern Protestants who
developed an allegiance to the newly independent Irish
state alongside other citizens of what became the Republic
of Ireland. More to the point, the state was capable of
winning their allegiance, unlike what happened in the North
of Ireland where Roman Catholics or nationalists were
excluded systematically through forms of overt and covert
discrimination and naked repression. The southern state
could evolve because its citizens were capable of
developing a largely secular civil society and discourse.
The North was not, because it could not. It was set up as
an exercise in sectarian control, in which majority rule,
the normal signal of legitimacy, rendered society
politically fixed and immutably sectarian.


In the South the unauthorised Dumanway killings that took
place in the interregnum between the Treaty split (with
Eamon DeValera and Michael Collins on opposite sides) and
subsequent Civil War, were exceptional, not sectarian in
intent in any case. All sides of republican opinion
condemned them, as they broke the provisions of an IRA
amnesty for spies and informers. Contemporary Protestant
church commentary noted the exceptional nature of the

The Protestant population in southern Ireland did decline
sharply with the pullout of colonial administration.
University College Cork's history Professor emeritus, John
A Murphy, commented "active persecution [is] the least
plausible" explanation of Protestant population decline,
adding, "The notion that tens of thousands of Protestants
were compelled to flee their shops and farms is Paisleyite
myth-mongering." Murphy is ordinarily sympathetic to Hart's
research. He is dismissive of the notion that Irish
Protestants were persecuted as such, noting that they
continued to enjoy, on average, a relatively higher socio
economic status than members of Irish society generally.

The main pressure keeping the Irish Distress Committee
functioning throughout the 1920s was the shadowy Southern
Irish Loyalists' Relief Association, whose leadership
consisted largely of titled individuals residing in, and
who were mostly born in, England.

In 1930 The Southern Irish Loyalists' Relief Association
asked the Irish Distress Committee to destroy letters from
southern Ireland seeking payments. Considerable amounts had
been dispensed, including to absentee landlords whose
tenants were reluctant to pay rent. The autumn 2006 Church
& State magazine commented, "There may be a number of
explanations for this, ranging from tax evasion to fraud."
The authors also speculate as to whether it may have been
evidence of an attempt by Britain to preserve a fifth
column within the newly Independent Irish state. More
research is needed on the role of this fascinating body.
Church and State (Autumn 2006) magazine announced that they
would continue to publish on this organisation.

Bury concluded his criticism, "to deny that some saw the
Protestant community as unwanted in the new Ireland denies
historical reality". This may be a case of "some" accepting
the loyalist thesis stating that a Protestant is
quintessentially British. Robin Bury regularly speaks on
behalf of the Reform Society, founded by Dublin and Wicklow
Orange Order members. The Orange Order is an ultra
Protestant sectarian organisation. Perhaps Robin Bury is
comfortable with this depiction of Irish Protestants. A
frequenter of Reform Society conferences, that calls on
Ireland to join the British Commonwealth and wants Ireland
to join a 'British Isles' (sic) federation, is the British
Ambassador to Dublin, who is also apparently a patron of
the organisation.

The criticism of The Wind that Shakes the Barley is
essentially an attempt to foist a reverse of unionist
behaviour in Northern Ireland on to republican forces
during and after the War of Independence. It is, in my
view, a foolish exercise doomed to failure. There was
significant and extensive Protestant support for the
republican position during the 1916-21 period, which, as
its name suggests, tended to criticise and to oppose an
overt identification with the Roman Catholic Church or
religion. There were of course bigoted nationalists and
bigoted Roman Catholics. But republican policy, by and
large, was not. Republicanism is accused of sectarianism by
inference and innuendo, not, so far, by evidence. By its
own standards of judgement by empirical test, much
revisionist historiography is found wanting. It ends up
appearing as far, far shallower than the bogeyman
nationalist narrative it created for itself as a target to
destroy. In so far as it bases conclusions on the
concoctions of Basil Clarke and his colleagues in Dublin
Castle, it does not so much produce propaganda as reproduce

Evidence suggests that British policy was overtly sectarian
and that Britain attempted to create sectarian tension at
every level of society, including through media
manipulation, as it was a means of maintaining control
through 'divide and rule'.

Loach's award winning film wandered into the historical and
sectarian crossfire that I have outlined here and it
emerges unscathed with its narrative and historical
integrity intact.

Niall Meehan is head of the Journalism & Media Faculty,
Griffith College, Dublin. He can be reached at


Hugh Leonard Honoured At 80

Marie O'Halloran

Actors, playwrights, critics and directors were among the
large crowd who turned out last night to pay tribute to
"one of Ireland's great writers", Hugh Leonard, who
celebrated his 80th birthday on Friday.

Some 300 people attended the Pavilion Theatre in Dún
Laoghaire to mark the prolific career of Jack Keyes Byrne,
who "took the pseudonym Hugh Leonard from one of his plays
and it brought him luck, so he kept it on", said playwright
Bernard Farrell, one of the night's organisers.

The event was hosted jointly by the Abbey Theatre, the
Dalkey Heritage Centre and the arts department of Dún
Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

"We wanted to mark the occasion for Jack and do it in the
borough", said Mr Farrell.

"I first met him in 1980 when I had a play in the Abbey and
felt I knew him well through his plays and journalism. We
both had the same concern about the cant and pretension of
society," he said.

Extracts from some of his most famous works including Love
in the Title, his autobiography Home Before Night, Da, and
A Life were performed by actors including Des Cave, John
Kavanagh, Anita Reeves and Ingrid Craigie, with singing by
tenor Karl Scully and soprano Anna Devin.

Master of ceremonies, David Kelly, described the star of
the night as "a dear and gifted friend, irreplaceable,

The birthday boy himself was only informed of the event
last week and was accompanied by his partner, Kathy Hayes,
and daughter Danielle. When he entered the Pavilion's
auditorium, he received a sustained standing ovation.

Playwright Frank McGuinness described him as "one of
Ireland's great writers. He has chronicled the changes in
this country more accurately than anyone else. He's a great
political writer who never lost sight of the fact that the
community is at the heart of drama. He's a radical
visionary who never got the credit for that."

Patrick Mason, who directed the actors in last night's
entertainment, described him as "one of the best all-round
practitioners of Irish theatre. It's a great body of work,"
he said of his plays, novels, adaptations and journalism.
"There are the stand-outs like Da and the political satires
but, as an overall body of work, it is fantastic."

© The Irish Times


Davitt's Great Grandson Leads Young Greens

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

The great grandson of the founder of the Land League
Michael Davitt has been elected chairman of the youth wing
of the Green Party.

Edward Davitt (26) from Ranelagh in Dublin was elected
chairman of the Young Greens at the organisation's annual
conference in Galway yesterday.

A student of history and European affairs, he said he was
the first member of his family to become politically active
in recent years, despite his family heritage.

"My dad's dad was a Fine Gael TD for one term. He was a
medical doctor and he didn't have a great interest in

Mr Davitt said that because his father was the "family
genealogist", he grew up with the legend of Michael Davitt,
who died 100 years ago.

His great grandfather's political ideology sits well with
the Green Party, he said.

"Michael Davitt pioneered many causes, usually before they
had ever become popular or even entered the mainstream of
the public consciousness including tenants' rights and the
rights of minorities," he said.

He has no plans at present to stand for election for the
Dáil or a local authority.

© The Irish Times


Polish Woman Dies After Fall From Cliffs Of Moher

Pat Flynn

A 35-year-old woman was swept off the Cliffs of Moher in Co
Clare yesterday but was still alive when recovered from the
water an hour later.

Despite surviving the initial 600-foot fall, the woman died
a short time later in a Galway hospital from her injuries.

The Polish woman, who had been living in Dublin for the
past year, was visiting the popular tourist attraction with
a male companion when high winds swept her into the sea.

Gardaí confirmed that they are treating the incident as a
"tragic accident".

"We understand that the woman was near the cliff edge when
she slipped. It appears that she lost her footing after
being caught by a gust of wind.

"She was found about an hour later and airlifted to
hospital in Galway where she passed away a short time
later," a Garda spokesman said.

The incident occurred shortly after midday. The man who had
been with the woman was unharmed but deeply shocked. He
raised the alarm.

A largescale search was quickly launched and the woman was
spotted in the water an hour later. Coast Guard units that
had been involved in a training exercise near Rossaveal in
Co Galway rushed to the scene.

The crew of the Shannon-based Irish Coastguard helicopter
recovered the woman, who was unconscious, after she had
been spotted by search teams on land.

When she was taken on board the helicopter, a crew member
detected a pulse and she was rushed to Galway's University
College Hospital but died a short time later.

Up to 800 people were at the cliffs at the time but the
accident occurred in an area which was off the main tourist

A Coast Guard spokesman said: "There were huge numbers at
the cliffs at the time but very few, if any, where this
tragedy happened.

"It looks like the woman stepped towards the edge to have a
closer look but was swept off. The fact that she lived for
so long afterwards is unreal," he said.

Gardaí were trying to contact the woman's family in Poland
last night while a postmortem examination is due to be
carried out this morning in University College Hospital

© The Irish Times

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