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The Centenary of Northern Ireland - A Carnival of Reaction

The author is a QUB Political Science honors graduate, a qualified PTLLS tutor, a political analyst, and has written on a variety of issues

A Celebration of Triumphalism

 Orange Order's plan to mark Northern Ireland centenary revealed (News Letter)

Orange Order's plan to mark Northern Ireland centenary revealed (News Letter)

A Gerrymandered Entity

Totally without a scintilla of irony, the British Government and Northern Ireland Office in concert with the north-east of Ireland's pro-British minority have plans afoot in 2021 to commemorate the centenary of the creation of one of Europe's most disputed territories. Global pandemic notwithstanding, they have already given us brief but slightly sanitized glimpses of what we are to expect. True to form, they are the habitual normalization of ethnic-supremacism and a rather outdated, hyper-militarized interpretation of 'Britishness'.

There is no comfort in these proposed 'celebrations' here for Irish Catholics in the six counties, who paradoxically due to vast demographic changes, now make up the majority in a contrived boundary where they were always intended to be a permanent minority. Leaked details and not so subtle hints suggest that the 2021 Centenary Celebrations may well be a year-long or an extended version of the infamous Twelfth of July hate-fest which the vast majority of residents here with the means to do so flee to County Donegal, Europe, or further afield or are forced to endure massive intimidation and coat-trailing exercises through towns and city centers. This annual sectarian hate-fest is televised and 'normalized' by both the BBC and ITV and no doubt they'll indulge in the same type of glossing over of sectarianism during the proposed centenary celebrations of the Pogrom Statelet.


Results of the last fully democratic election in Ireland, 1918.

Republican and nationalists seats are shown in green.

Republican and nationalists seats are shown in green.

Labour and the Proposed Partition of Ireland - James Connolly (1914)


"Such a scheme as that agreed to by Redmond and Devlin, the betrayal of the national democracy of industrial Ulster would mean a carnival of reaction both North and South, would set back the wheels of progress, would destroy the oncoming unity of the Irish Labour movement and paralyze all advanced movements whilst it endured"

Irish Republican Socialist James Connolly

Irish Republican Socialist James Connolly

The Pogrom State

the-centenary-of-a-sectarian-state-let
Expulsion of Catholics and Protestant socialists (called 'rotten Prods') from the Belfast Shipyard

Expulsion of Catholics and Protestant socialists (called 'rotten Prods') from the Belfast Shipyard

the-centenary-of-a-sectarian-state-let

The Creation of 'Northern Ireland'

The creation of the partitioned state-let of Northern Ireland by the Government of Ireland Act (1920) became, as James Connolly prophetically stated, 'a carnival of reaction'. All supposed concessions to Catholics within the six counties were quickly dispensed with including a Proportional Representation electoral model, the short-lived Boundary Commission and the proposed Council of Ireland was abolished. Republicans and nationalists had achieved huge majorities during the 1918 General Election in both the north and south, in what could arguably be described as Ireland's last fully democratic election.

Having secured a gerrymandered sectarian state-let, Ulster Unionism unleashed it's punitive death-squads to terrorize the by now Catholic minority. To quote The Irish Times

"Almost 500 people were killed in the city between July 1920 and July 1922 in violence that matched the intensity of the worst days of the more contemporary Troubles with near daily murders and sectarian strife"

Another example of the ferocity of the Unionist death-squads, on 10 July, 1921, sixteen people were killed in Belfast in what was yet another bloody massacre in the North of Ireland. Worse was yet to come.

As Niall Cunningham states in his 'The Social Geography of Violence During the Belfast Troubles, 1920-22'

'Between 1920 and 1922, the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland was the location of intense violence between Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists arising out of the broader political conflict engulfing the island. Approximately 500 people died within the city as a result of these tensions. There existed marked spatial variation in patterns of fatality during these original ‘Troubles’ which accompanied the creation of the Northern Ireland state'

It is without doubt that organized anti-Catholic pogroms were very much the sectarian statelet's official, yet publically deniable, policy to hammer home to northern Catholics what the penalties for perceived 'disloyalty' were. In Belfast’s Unholy War by Alan Parkinson, he states

'Sir James Craig, the future Northern Ireland prime minister, was able to use the Belfast disturbances to persuade Lloyd George to establish the sectarian Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) as an auxiliary police force based on the pre-war UVF. To nationalists the USC were nothing more than ‘the dregs of the Orange lodges’, but to Craig and his beleaguered cabinet they guaranteed the establishment of the Northern state against determined nationalist resistance'

In notorious outrages such as the McMahon murders, six members of a north Belfast family were lined-up and gunned down by members of the Ulster Special Constabulary.

One may well ask is this the catalogue of state-sponsored murder, intimidation and terror that any progressive people would seek to 'celebrate'?

A mural referring to sectarian murders by members of the RIC in Belfast in 1920–22

A mural referring to sectarian murders by members of the RIC in Belfast in 1920–22

Monthly mean centers of conflict deaths in all months in which casualties totaled ten or more

Monthly mean centers of conflict deaths in all months in which casualties totaled ten or more

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© 2020 Liam A Ryan

Comments

CJ Kelly from the PNW on November 09, 2020:

LIam, do you see Northern Ireland eventually unifying with the Republic? Too crazy?