‘If the state had treated people equally, none of this would have happened’

‘If the state had treated people equally, none of this would have happened’

Eamon Melaugh on the Battle of the Bogside and the birth of the Troubles.

Andrew Doyle

Andrew Doyle
columnist

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Fifty years ago to the day, Eamon Melaugh was in a small annex at the top of the Rossville Flats in the Bogside, a deprived Catholic area in the Northern Irish city of Derry (or Londonderry, as it is known to many Protestants), broadcasting on a pirate radio station as a battle raged beneath. The Catholic residents were defending their territory from the police by throwing stones and petrol bombs from behind makeshift barricades. ‘It was utter chaos’, Eamon tells me. ‘There was nothing planned. There was nothing provided for. People were rioting day and night.’

I’ve spoken to Eamon on many occasions about his key role as a civil-rights activist in the early days of the Troubles. (He’s my uncle.) He has been a lifelong socialist and an advocate of non-violent direct action, and has been present for most of the major events in Derry’s recent history. His impromptu radio broadcasts took place during the three days of riots which became known as the ‘Battle of the Bogside’, culminating in the first deployment of British troops in Northern Ireland. Fifty years on from this momentous act of resistance against state oppression, I meet with Eamon, now 86, at his home in Derry to hear his account of how these events came to pass.

‘I grew up amid bigotry and hatred’, he says. ‘I was born in Bridge Street, just outside the Derry walls. But in 1948 we moved to the prefabs in the Brandywell area. And there was hatred on both sides, I have to tell you. It was sort of justified on the Catholic side, if it can ever be justified, because they were the innocent victims of a ruthless oligarchy of Unionist politicians.’ Eamon, who is of Catholic background, wanted to help break this stronghold. ‘Quite frankly, I was determined that I was going to get the system by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shaking. I was not going to hand on to my children the legacy that my parents had handed on to me.’

‘When the state was formed in 1921’, he explains, ‘James Craig [Northern Ireland’s first prime minister] declared it “a Protestant parliament for a Protestant people”. We didn’t have normal politics then. We’ve never had normal politics in the north. The political system was controlled by the landed gentry. Catholics were systematically discriminated against in all aspects of life. They were trying to starve the Catholics on to the immigrant boat for England.’

Derry was the most egregious example of gerrymandering in the province. Electoral wards had been drawn in such a way as to ensure Protestant dominance. ‘We had a Unionist controlled Corporation’, says Eamon. ‘One third of the population were Unionists, but they could elect 12 councillors. The Catholics who had a two-thirds majority could only elect eight.’ The situation was made worse due to the lack of universal suffrage; only ratepayers were entitled to vote, meaning that those who were not tenants or did not own property were excluded. It was in the interests of those in power, therefore, to ensure that housing for Catholics was limited. Many were left living in squalid conditions in the Bogside, the Brandywell and the Creggan estate.

‘The Bogside was the most densely populated area of its size in the whole of Europe’, Eamon tells me. ‘Most of the houses would have had dual occupation. Some of them had triple occupation.’ Eamon joined Sinn Fein in the early Sixties, but soon grew frustrated with its lack of interest in these kinds of social issues. ‘I wanted to talk about housing and unemployment, but I was told quite ferociously that we were here to achieve a United Ireland. I was told that the politicians could deal with the social problems.’

But this was clearly not the case. Eamon organised regular protests at the council meetings at Derry’s Guildhall. ‘I would start speaking and the Unionists would walk out’, Eamon recalls. ‘On one occasion I got out of the public gallery, walked the length of the hall, got up into the mayor’s chair and banged down the gavel. I called for an emergency people’s resolution to build 2,000 new houses. And the nationalists didn’t say a word.’ With such a corrupt political system, it was always going to be up to local radicals like Eamon to effect any kind of change.

The lack of resolve from republicans led Eamon to co-found the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) with Bridget Bond and Matt O’Leary in February 1968. ‘We were fighting against Neanderthal politicians’, says Eamon. ‘I used to watch them going into the cathedral every Sunday, with their prayer books under their arms, praying to God on a Sunday but preying on the Catholics in the town.’ The DHAC was to become instrumental in the civil-rights march in Derry on 5 October 1968, the event that Eamon co-organised which most historians cite as the beginning of the Troubles.

Eamon had invited the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) to Derry at the end of August, but he understood that the march could never go ahead were it not for its support. ‘I’d promised the NICRA there would be thousands on the march, but I knew there wouldn’t be’, he admits. In his book, War and an Irish Town, Eamonn McCann (co-organiser of the march) recalls the moment a delegation from the NICRA executive visited Derry to discuss Eamon’s plan: ‘We met in a room above the Grandstand Bar in William Street. Melaugh, as the man who had thought of the idea, delivered a pep-talk before we went in to meet the delegation: “Remember, our main purpose here is to keep our grubby proletarian grip on this jamboree.” It was good advice. It was immediately clear that the NICRA knew nothing of Derry.’

According to McCann, this was the reason the NICRA accepted Eamon’s proposed route into the Diamond (the square within the city walls) without question. ‘This was holy sanctified Unionist territory’, Eamon tells me, ‘and there was no way the police were going to allow it to be desecrated. So I knew full well that the march would be banned.’ A few days before the event, Eamon met with a prominent journalist who told him there was ‘bad news’: William Craig, the minister for home affairs, had indeed banned the march and instructed the police to ‘wipe the Derry streets clear of demonstrators’. ‘That’s not bad news’, Eamon replied.

I ask Eamon whether he was worried about the violence that might ensue. ‘When I went out on the Saturday to march, I knew what was coming. I had six white hankies in my pockets to act as bandages, and that’s exactly what they were used for. The police were all waiting for us with drawn batons. I selected that route to provoke them into violence. And I told the marchers: when our blood flows, Stormont goes.’

Melaugh – centre right, in tie – on the Derry civil-rights march on 5 October 1968. Credit: Irish Times
Melaugh – centre right, in tie – on the Derry civil-rights march on 5 October 1968. Credit: Irish Times

For this strategy to work, the DHAC had to make sure that there was wide coverage of the event in the media. Eamon had already contacted the Irish television channel Telefís Éireann, and had met with a reporter for the Observer, Mary Holland, in the City Hotel in Derry a week before the march. ‘I said, “Look, Mary, we’re going to get savagely beaten. There’s going to be blood on the ground. You should be there.” And she came on the march with us.’

As anticipated, the protesters were attacked as they attempted to march into Unionist territory, and the sheer brutality of the televised images caused international outrage. Eamon was arrested the next morning and put on trial for organising the banned parade along with Eamonn McCann and Finbar O’Doherty. But by that point, as he puts it, ‘the genie was out of the bottle’. He recalls being bundled into a police car and witnessing scenes of ‘ransacking’ in the town. ‘After that we had riots on the streets almost on a daily basis. All hell had broken loose. But my argument was always to organise ourselves into a peaceful political working-class group which would bring down the Unionist government. But nobody was listening. There was a lot of anger. And, quite frankly, some of the young boys were enjoying the violence. They had a ball.’

The year that followed was fraught with regular rioting and rising tensions between the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the Catholic population. ‘The RUC were the armed wing of the Unionist party’, says Eamon, and their actions were often flagrantly sectarian. The activist and journalist Nell McCafferty recalls a time when the RUC ‘went on a midnight rampage’ through the Bogside, ‘breaking doors and windows’. Such illegal activities by the police, combined with an opportunistic IRA which depended on local grievances for the purposes of recruitment, meant that conflict became inevitable.

The catalyst was the Apprentice Boys march, which takes place in Derry every year on 12 August to commemorate the 1689 Siege of Derry, in which the Protestants within the city walls successfully held out against the Catholic forces of King James II. Fifteen-thousand Orangemen would be marching past the Bogside, just a month after the 12 July parades, at which members of the RUC joined in with sectarian rioting by throwing stones. After almost a year of continual civil disruption since the NICRA march on 5 October, the atmosphere had most definitely soured.

‘What you’ve got to understand about the Orange Order’, says Eamon, ‘is that some of these marches were manifestations of triumphalism. And they were going to be protected. The police sealed off the Bogside to protect the Orangemen. The flash point was at the end of William Street. Had the Apprentice Boys changed the route, the mayhem may not have happened.’

There is a fascinating booklet of photographs created by the Bogside Republican Appeal Fund, available online at Ulster University’s CAIN website, which records the dramatic events that unfolded at the Battle of the Bogside, interspersed with captions that show the characteristic gallows humour of those who lived through the worst of the Troubles. One image shows members of the RUC charging into the Bogside with local Protestants in civilian clothes. There can be little doubt that a sectarian alliance was taking place. ‘On the 12th the RUC attacked the Bogside’, says Eamon. ‘They had the B-Specials as a backup [a reserve force which was finally dispatched on the third day]. They were all in masks and had batons. A number of people in civilian clothes attacked the Bogside and none of them was arrested. I thought to myself, we’re going to have fatalities.’

By this point, Eamon had already been running his pirate ‘Radio Free Derry’ from his house in the Creggan, but as the trouble in the Bogside escalated he decided to temporarily relocate to the top of the Rossville Flats at the heart of the disturbances. ‘It was to try to get people to erect barricades and defend them and stay on their own side’, he says. ‘I didn’t have much hope of it working, but I felt obliged to try.’

Melaugh operating ‘Radio Free Derry’ during the Battle of the Bogside. Credit: Eamon Melaugh
Melaugh operating ‘Radio Free Derry’ during the Battle of the Bogside. Credit: Eamon Melaugh

‘The fighting went on through the day and night’, he adds. ‘Some were throwing petrol bombs from the top of the Rossville Flats at the end facing William Street. I was based at the other end. I remember two guys bursting into the wee room, breathless, saying that the city engineer had threatened to turn off the water to the Bogside. So I went on the radio and said to the city engineer that if he turned the water off we would turn off the gas supply to the whole of Derry. The gasworks were on our side of the barricades, you see.’

I mention to Eamon a prominent mural on one of the gables in the Bogside, which to this day depicts a young Bernadette Devlin (a civil-rights activist who was to become an MP) rallying the residents through a loudspeaker. She was later convicted for inciting violence and served a prison sentence. Was she or anyone else co-ordinating the defence of the Bogside against the RUC? ‘No’, says Eamon. ‘It was mayhem. There were no strings being pulled. The only people who were in any way organised on the day were the IRA, but they were there to increase their membership. No one could control it.’

Eamon is doubtless referring to the IRA men, led by veteran Sean Keenan, who had set up the Derry Citizens Defence Association and encouraged the local population to prepare by gathering materials for barricades and petrol bombs. According to journalist Peter Taylor, there had been very few empty milk bottles returned to the dairy in the days leading up to the conflict. When the police stormed into the Bogside, the locals were ready to take them on. The fighting became so intense that, for the first time in the United Kingdom, CS gas was used for the purposes of riot control.

‘After 48 hours I was convinced that the police would lose patience and kill a number of Catholics’, Eamon tells me. ‘And I had heard a rumour that a number of senior officers in the Irish army wanted to bring troops to the north, with or without authorisation.’ Loyalists also believed that there was to be an imminent invasion by the Irish army. The taoiseach, Jack Lynch, had made an inflammatory statement on television, claiming that ‘the reunification of the national territory can provide the only permanent solution for the problem’, and that army field hospitals had been established in Donegal, just over the border. If anything was going to provoke the kind of disproportionate reaction from the police that Eamon feared, this was it.

‘So, on Radio Free Derry, I called for the British troops to be put on the streets’, Eamon says. ‘I had suggested it before at a public meeting and lost some of my friends because of that. But I realised that if the British troops came on the streets, Britain would have to assume responsibility. They’d realise that the system was so bad and so corrupt and so evil that it would have to be replaced.’

British soldiers performing a stop and search in Derry, circa 1972. Credit: Eamon Melaugh
British soldiers performing a stop and search in Derry, circa 1972. Credit: Eamon Melaugh

It would be almost 38 years before the British army finally left Northern Ireland. Many of Eamon’s photographs of the period, often taken at great personal risk, are collected in his book, Derry: The Troubled Years, and on the CAIN website. They include a number of images taken during the massacre on Bloody Sunday on 30 January 1972, when British paratroopers shot 28 unarmed civilians, killing 14. As a man who has had 11 children and fostered a further 15, Eamon clearly has an investment in the future, but is dismayed by the idea that so many should think that violence is the most effective route to progress. Although a fervent supporter of a United Ireland, Eamon has always promoted the ballot box over the Armalite. He describes the Provisional IRA as those ‘whose hands are dyed indelibly with the blood of innocent people’.

Last year, Eamon joined a ‘walk of atonement’ with others who had attended the march he had organised with Eamonn McCann on 5 October 1968. They retraced the original route as a memorial to the 3,500 people who died in the Troubles that followed. ‘The price we paid was horrendous’, Eamon said to the Irish News last year. ‘It’s a price that never should have had to be paid.’ Although he now believes that events such as the Battle of the Bogside were necessary to bring about the collapse of Stormont, he still maintains that the people of Derry should never have been compelled to resort to violence. ‘If the state had treated all of its citizens equally’, he insists, ‘none of this would have happened’.

Andrew Doyle is a stand-up comedian and spiked columnist. His book Woke: A Guide to Social Justice (written by his alter-ego Titania McGrath) is available on Amazon.

Header picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Comments

Jim Lawrie

14th August 2019 at 11:23 pm

Equally, had The IRA not carried out the murders of The Scottish Soldiers murders, then the bloodshed that many of them relished could have been avoided. That is why they did it.

Jim Lawrie

14th August 2019 at 11:04 pm

The State has never treated people equally. Right now the whipping boys are white and working class. Both sides of the divide in Northern Ireland.

Andrew Gardner

14th August 2019 at 5:42 pm

In the 1970s, Britain was a democratic country. Therefore the nationalists could have achieved all of there aims of equality and civil rights through peaceful means. Instead, they chose to murder 3000 people. The IRA were a violent, fascist organisation and were/are a stain on Ireland’s history. No amount of excuses will change this.

Winston Stanley

14th August 2019 at 6:08 pm

The nationalists should not have had to struggle for equality, civil rights and dignity in the first place, all decent people should have ensured that from the get go. NI was always a nasty sectarian state, run by nasty sectarian people, and with the support of nasty, sectarian people. The Catholics were a minority and they were no position to achieve their aims democratically without the support of a wider people who were eager to perpetuate the situation for their own privilege, sectarianism and vanity. What democratic voice the Catholics had locally was gerrymandered away from them and the less well off, much of the Catholic population, were simply disenfranchised. 20th century NI is a serious stain on British history. Ultimately Britain takes the blame for all of that. Cameron apologised for Bloody Sunday – the British State needs to apologise for the entirety of NI history and for setting up a partitioned, nasty, sectarian statelet in the first place.

Andrew Gardner

14th August 2019 at 7:01 pm

Well fine. But are you seriously suggesting that the Protestant population of Northern Ireland would ever have consented to join the “nasty, sectarian, bigotted statelet” that was the Irish Republic from 1922 until the 1990s ? There was bigotry on both sides in Northern Ireland, Catholic just as much as Protestant. The IRA only stopped it’s campaign of genocide against the Protestants, when it looked like the Loyalist paramilitaries were starting something similar against the catholics.

Winston Stanley

14th August 2019 at 7:48 pm

That then would have been the responsibility of the Irish Republic, and history may have developed very different if Ireland had not been partitioned by the British State on a sectarian basis in the first place. As it was, the British State retained jurisdiction and as the founder and the superior authority in the sectarian NI statelet thus retained full and ultimate responsibility. The “stain” is ultimately on British State history rather than on Ireland.

The lesson is simple, if we do not want liability then do not retain the authority that is the basis of that responsibility. Let countries sort out their own problems, and do not create the problems in the first place. British State geopolitical “strategy”, now as a poodle of the USA, relies on the pretence of “humanitarian” interventions, so it is unlikely to apply the “mind your own business” principle any time soon. The BS approach is simply to blame everyone else, act the saint, and deny any liability. It is a farce.

Jerry Owen

14th August 2019 at 8:10 pm

When the IRA scum apologize maybe we can think about an equitable truce… But they never will.

Andrew Gardner

14th August 2019 at 8:14 pm

Are you seriously saying, that the Irish Republic could ever have maintained its authority in Northern Ireland and kept peace. ? The Irish army numbers less than 10,000. If the British had just walked away from Northern Ireland, there would have been Protestant/Catholic genocide. The Republic would not have been capable of stopping it, and Britain would have been held responsible. Just as Britain seems to be held responsible for most things nowadays.

JPM Culligan

15th August 2019 at 4:41 pm

You really don’t know enough Irish history to be pronouncing on it. Look up Carson, and the fact that the army was initially deployed to Northern Ireland to protect the Catholic community who were the initial victims of the Troubles as Protestant terror gangs ran amok. The welcome given to British soldiers was one of the spurs that led Republican terrorists to target the army.

Tim Pat Coogan’s “the IRA” is a good place to start.

Winston Stanley

15th August 2019 at 5:48 pm

“If the British had just walked away from Northern Ireland, there would have been Protestant/Catholic genocide.”

That is like the Germans saying in 1939 that they have to occupy the south of Britain and make it a part of Germany b/c otherwise militant Germans might feel that they ought to have all of Britain as a part of Germany and it could lead to wider violence. At what point do you absorb that you cannot grab parts of other countries under the threat of arms?

The responsibility of the British State in 1921 was to undo as much as possible of the harm that it had done to Ireland. That meant disarming its bully boy sectarian fan boys that it introduced into Ireland in the first place. Instead the British State used its paramilitary fan base as a pretext to force through a land grab of part of Ireland.

Absolutely disgraceful behaviour. That caused a civil war in Ireland among the Republicans, which must have been a massive giggle for the British State. And it left Ireland partitioned on a sectarian basis and the Catholics of the north subject to a nasty sectarian state supported by a nasty sectarian people.

The sectarian bully boy threat of violence will not cut ice this time. Peace, democracy, justice and decency will prevail in Ireland, whether the bully boy sectarians like that or not. The security forces are quite capable of dealing with them and the international community will be watching on to see if it needs to intervene.

Hana Jinks

16th August 2019 at 3:24 pm

Winston, and others on this thread. Thanks for such an interesting read.

I wish l knew more about this situation, but it seems on the face of it that what Winston is saying about the British and how they shouldn’t have been there has a lot of merit. But l could be wrong. I really don’t know.

What really puzzles me is Christian feeling such antipathy to another Christian. We are supposed to be on the same side.

(Australian Protestant.)

Eric Praline

14th August 2019 at 6:48 pm

Must be nice living in such a black and white world.

Winston Stanley

14th August 2019 at 7:22 pm

The principles of justice dictate that the superior authority is responsible for the actions of the lesser authority. It is the basis of any ordered responsibility. The idea is not to delegate and then to wash one’s hands.

The way to avoid responsibility is to relinquish authority in the first place. If the British State had let Ireland go, full and entire, then it would not have been responsible for NI; but it did not, it established a sectarian statelet under British jurisdiction and thus retained full responsibility for NI.

The British State was ultimately responsible for the NI sectarian statelet and for its strife and failure, that simply follows from the logic of ordered responsibility. Of course we can say that they are just made up principles, and they are, but that would be a massive admission that I doubt that the British State is ready and willing to acknowledge.

The world, and society, would then look like a very different place, one simply of naked power, which it is largely is, but I doubt that the BS wants it own citizens to assimilate that fact. It would not be conducive to the social order with which we are acquainted. Society relies on at least the pretence of justice in order to function.

> Respondeat superior. Respondeat superior (Latin: “let the master answer”; plural: respondeant superiores) is a doctrine that a party is responsible for (has vicarious liability for) acts of their agents.

Andrew Gardner

14th August 2019 at 8:25 pm

I should have taken my own advise about not visiting internet discussion pages. They seem to be a zoo for cranks.

Winston Stanley

14th August 2019 at 9:12 pm

Yep, it must be nice to live in such a black and white world where the basic principles of justice and decency apply and states take responsibility for that, and for the consequences of the denial of that, in their jurisdictions.

Arthur Dented

15th August 2019 at 12:00 pm

You cite democracy as a solution for a people who could not vote, were not allowed to vote and were gerrymandered to oblivion. The whole formation of Northern Ireland was anti-democratic. An all Ireland vote for ‘Home Rule’ ( while still remaining part of the UK ) was tossed aside by unionist power brokers in Belfast determined to preserve their wealth and the unionists imported arms from Germany in 1912 and threatened to revolt against King and Country unless the country was partitioned, this threat of mass armed violence normalised the gun in Irish politics, not any form of the IRA. Follow this with 50 years of brutal repression ( ignored by the British governments ) and deliberate severe economic and social deprivation coupled with episodes of literal ethnic cleansing and I am only amazed it didn’t happen sooner. The IRA was never fascist ( although you need to specify which IRA ) but the likes of the state sponsored B Specials were. Northern Ireland was a betrayal of democracy and it’s creation a betrayal even of Irish troops who fought for Britain in WW1 who were promised self governance. How many years of betrayal and repression does it take for a people to break? The British are very fond as portraying themselves as plucky lads who would stand up to oppression except when they are sponsoring the oppression.

brent mckeon

15th August 2019 at 12:42 pm

Well said, the truth is hard for the narrow minded who see only IRA violence and not a very oppressed people for over 2 centuries by the ‘Mother of Democracy’

brent mckeon

15th August 2019 at 12:35 pm

Am trying to raise the debate above who killed who the most, both sides were/are guilty of terrible violence. In about the late 1880’s Gladstone PM of Britain said the following”:…. I cannot allow it to be said that a Protestant MINORITY in Ulster, or elsewhere, is to rule the question at large for Ireland. I am aware of no constitutional doctrine tolerable on which such a conclusion could be adopted or justified…..” . A few years later, probably in the early 1900’s Lord Randolph Churchill said the following: “The Orange card is the one to play.’ By this he meant that the best way of opposing Home Rule was to use the energies of the Protestant Orange order Lodges in the North of Ireland with their traditional fears of the Catholic MAJORITY in Ireland. Thereafter this de-facto became British Irish policy ending in the separation of Ireland into two Apartheid states. In my humble view this is the main cause of the troubles since 1922 and it still festers now. In all the other British colonies Britain pulled out leaving the majority (initially) to rule a single state (India being a tragic exception), why not Ireland?
As an aside, ‘non Ulster’ Irish, Protestant and Catholic VOLUNTEERED in big numbers to fight for the British in WW1 and 2 but perversely only the Ulster non Catholic recruits are fully acknowledged.

Robert Spowart

16th August 2019 at 2:37 pm

There is one difference between the terrorists, of both sides, and the security forces who had to deal with them.
When a terrorist left home armed it was with the intention of killing or maiming someone.
When the Police left the police station or the soldier left his barracks, it was with the intention of staying alive and, if possible, preventing the terrorist from committing murder.

JPM Culligan

15th August 2019 at 4:21 pm

The situation in Northern Ireland, however, was not like that in the rest of the UK. Gerrymandering ensured that the catholic nationalist population had no effective recourse to the ballot box.

That being said, however, it is also true that there is a strand of republicanism that would reject any civil rights granted by the “colonial oppressor” that were not earned in blood. The urge to martyrdom runs very strongly through the history of the struggle for Irish independence.

Robert Spowart

16th August 2019 at 2:32 pm

Moves were afoot long before the Troubles started to address the iniquities of discrimination.
Somewhere about ’62 or ’63 a Sunday newspaper, I forget which one, I was only about 10 or 11 at the time, had a campaign about the religious gerrymandering that went on in Ulster, calling it a disgrace.
Unfortunately the Powers That Be in Ulster had deaf ears.

Linda Payne

14th August 2019 at 4:05 pm

The northern irish state could never treat people equally; the whole idea of NI was that it was a proxy protestant state part of Britain where the loyalist population had power and privileges; the only way Catholics could have been treated equal was if Britain left the country and the country was united

In2 Minds

14th August 2019 at 3:31 pm

Brexit and the Irish border. Things have changed. Developments show that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has overplayed his hand and so too has the EU who encouraged him all along the way. While it’s true Ulster voted to Remain in the 2016 Referendum, what cannot be assumed from this is that they also voted to change their status. Remain yes but become part of a united Ireland? No. This has been one of the major deceptions to come from the Referendum. London voted to Remain but not become part of Belgium. I note the low quality arguments from Remain and the one that includes the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) is typical. Irish politics as a whole, both North and South, is complicated and is a trap for the unwary. Remainers claim the GFA is under threat from Brexit but Lord Trimble who is often described as the architect of the GFA would disagree. The GFA and Brexit are not in tandem and those who wish to overturn a democratic decision, which is the latter, cannot use the former to do so. The mix of disingenuous and opportunistic goings on is spectacular. It’s pure hypocrisy to have placards saying, ‘Respect the Remain vote’, when really the thrust of the argument is stuff the Leave vote because we are special, no you are not! These people cannot overlook there was a win for Leave. They took part in the Referendum and would have been annoyed to have been left out so must accept the result. We also see endless references to a ‘hard border’. Belfast has ‘Peace Walls’ which may have a rather twee and misleading name but are simply hard borders but ones we do not speak about. The whole of the ‘Irish problem’ is full of complex contradictions which the EU, without bothering to understand them, simply adopted. Here was a stick to beat the UK with so that’s what they did.

aidan maconachy

15th August 2019 at 6:09 am

Agreed… Leo Varadkar has very definitely overplayed his hand.

gershwin gentile

14th August 2019 at 2:18 pm

IRA= Nazi Collaborators. Wonder why the UK had a problem with them.

aidan maconachy

15th August 2019 at 5:54 am

Sinn Fein has been trying to whitewash and downplay WW2 Nazi collaboration by their members for years, as they do any inconvenient truths in their past that show enough maneuvering room to take a deep dive and issue denials. Gerry Adams routinely denies he was a member of the IRA and of course he had nothing at all to do with the murder of Jean McConville.

They also deny that Seán Russell, IRA chief-of-staff in 1940, spent time in a villa in Gruenwald, Germany, and was trained by the Nazis. Take a look at Russell’s Wikipedia entry for more extensive details.

In 1937, Tom Barry, in his role as chief-of-staff was primarily focused on getting the Nazis’ assistance in attacks on British installations in the North, but his plans were pre-empted by the more extensive aims of Russell who envisaged an alliance with Germany.

Part of the problem with peace and reconciliation is the persistent lying and cover ups that relate to the former activities of the IRA and their provisional wing. They have shown themselves to be congenital liars on many issues. Which is why reading “good news” stories sticks in the craw – especially for those who have had loved ones murdered in the course of the IRA’s homicidal “campaigning”.

Lining up to support the whitewash on the issue of collaboration proves nothing except that the IRA has a very large problem with the truth and can rely on a lot of patsies to sing the same tune.

Mark Houghton

14th August 2019 at 1:21 pm

” He has been a lifelong socialist and an advocate of non-violent direct action,”

Given that socialists think that it’s OK to take stuff off other people using the power of the state (i.e. guns) then he can’t also be an advocate of non-violent direct action. The two are mutually exclusive.

Hana Jinks

14th August 2019 at 1:30 pm

Be careful that your posts aren’t deleted for those kinds of lies and propaganda.

Eric Praline

14th August 2019 at 6:50 pm

Only if you define people who take stuff off other people using the power of the state as socialists.

Hana Jinks

15th August 2019 at 11:11 am

That mad commie Jacinta Ardern has just relieved Kiwi’s of their guns, Eric.

Jerry Owen

14th August 2019 at 12:45 pm

With time passing comes romanticism, this a perfect case.
No one has a ‘territory to defend’ with violence, you may own your own home but you do not own a street or town etc. This is basically street violence, which is rightly illegal and has to be stopped by any means needed.
‘There was brutality and hatred on both sides, but it was sort of justified on the catholic side’.
The Loyalists no doubt would disagree !
‘ I selected that route to provoke them into violence’.
That from a man that believes in ‘non violent direct action’.

I have no axe to grind here but the irony is hard not to miss.
I do get sick of the attacks and current attacks on our brave troops that were shot at bombed , petrol bombed , lured into attacks etc. It was indeed a bloody war. The IRA were the main culprits and they brought that bloody war to mainland England.
Another example of the bloody fruits of Marxism.

aidan maconachy

15th August 2019 at 6:39 am

IRA campaigns were distinguished by cowardice… shoot, bomb, run. They also terrorized their own people and some are earning a new rep as drug dealers and street corner enforcers. But its amazing how many Brit socialists and other impressionables run cover for them. Corbyn being an example back in the day.

Amelia Cantor

14th August 2019 at 11:25 am

Remember, people: Identity Politics Are Bad! V. v. Bad! Self-pitying minority communities need to man up and stop whining about the past. Building an inclusive humanist future is what matters and we can only get there by uniting around our shared humanity and discarding our self-centred grievances.

Er, except when the minority is cisgender white Irish Catholics (see B. O’Neill et al). Then identity politics are ok, you can bring up the past as much as you like and you can be obsessive as you like about how badly you’ve been treated.

Hana Jinks

14th August 2019 at 1:18 pm

Are you so oblivious to the irony of parodying your own side? You’re responsible for all that horseshit.

I’m gonna email my treatment thru for “2032-Commie Apocolypse Round-Up”. It’s about what’s gonna have to happen near the end of the Donald Trump Jr presidency., and there’s a scene in it where the Fey-Squad have to give account for being vile, fey commie liars.

As you can see, it’s gonna be a movie about right-wing snowflakery.

Hana Jinks

14th August 2019 at 3:21 pm

This is the song to put on at a party when someone is about to get stabbed.

https://youtu.be/AQA919Dz1qA

Hana Jinks

14th August 2019 at 6:33 pm

Ameliorate Cant.

I’ve noticed with you Fey-Squad weirdo’s that get quite jolly about trolling the green-nazi’s and the other assorted fruitloops the the levt of you.

I’ve decided to use a second computer and show you what a real fake-leftist looks like. I’m gonna let it rest for a few months, and if the site is still here then, then I’ll show you how it’s done.

See if you’re able to recognize me amongst all the other fey-gays and ideologically-stunted around here.

Hana Jinks

14th August 2019 at 6:36 pm

*you get

Neil McCaughan

14th August 2019 at 3:42 pm

When you report for English lessons, also ask about *punctuation*, which, in the unlikely event that you had anything to convey, would render your prose more intelligible.

Amelia Cantor

15th August 2019 at 9:28 am

When you report for English lessons, also ask about *punctuation*, which, in the unlikely event that you had anything to convey, would render your prose more intelligible.

My punctuation’s fine, Neil. However, if you look below your post, you’ll see a fellow rightard who is in serious need of punctuation tips:

You are not funny anymore you are extremely tedious and repetitive. You add nothing to this site.
Find another satire to play on. You have flogged the cis gender crap to it’s deserved death.

He, he! The authentic sound of the Brexit-voting masses.

Anyway, Neil, please let me apologize for pointing out the difference between plural and singular possessives to you. It’s obviously damaged your fragile self-esteem and you’re desperate to pretend that it’s me, rather than you, in need of training in elementary punctuation.

Jerry Owen

14th August 2019 at 3:44 pm

Amelia Cantor
There isn’t a single post you write without the word cis gender in it. You are not funny anymore you are extremely tedious and repetitive. You add nothing to this site.
Find another satire to play on. You have flogged the cis gender crap to it’s deserved death.
Move on.

Amelia Cantor

15th August 2019 at 9:31 am

When cisgenderism is relevant, I mention it. In this case, it’s highly relevant. This article is an expression of identity politics, which Spiked supposedly condemn and wish us to abandon in favour of uniting around our shared humanity.

If you’re too stupid to understand my point, that’s your problem. But you are a rightard, so I would expect nothing more from you.

Thank you for your attention.

Hana Jinks

15th August 2019 at 4:26 pm

Jeery Ovens.

Did you notice how Ameliorate Cant was able to skirt the issues that l raised?

This is because he sees you as an easy mark. Which isn’t to suggest denigration towards you in anynway. These fey-gays are the worst people in our society. They’re hypocritical and humanistic leftists, utterly vile, with some kind of superiority-complex. Which is pretty ironic given what utter pharkwits and losers they are. Remember the dudes that got beaten up in school? Well, that’s the Fey-Squad.

Hana Jinks

15th August 2019 at 4:37 pm

Have you noticed how many truth-bombs that I’ve landed on the Fey-Squad over the last few days? Now try and calculate how many didn’t get thru.

Expect loads of squirming from the Fey-Squad, but don’t expect to see anything from the likes of Brazen Lyers, Smella Kneelin’ or the furedi woman anytime soon.

I’ve numbed them out.

Hana Jinks

15th August 2019 at 4:55 pm

Do you remember how Steve Gray thought he was superior to me, when all he was doing was virtue-signalling?

The levt in a nutshell.

Hana Jinks

15th August 2019 at 5:20 pm

Garreth Byrne

14th August 2019 at 10:16 am

Many people in England regard Northern Ireland as “that awful bloody place over there” and many inhabitants of the Irish republic regard ‘the North’ as “that awful bloody place up there”. This mental distancing enabled the political establishment in Westminster to allow a political slum to fester for half a century without checks and balances. The southern Irish mental distancing enabled the political establishment to make vacuous speeches about Irish unity without creating socio-economic conditions that might attract unionists into considering the idea of Irish unity. As we head into Brexit the English tendency to consign Northern Ireland and the Irish republic to a state of limbo called ‘over there’ is posing a dangerous threat to the uneasy peace created in 1998 by the Good Friday agreement.

aidan maconachy

15th August 2019 at 6:04 am

“As we head into Brexit the English tendency to consign Northern Ireland and the Irish republic to a state of limbo called ‘over there’ is posing a dangerous threat to the uneasy peace created in 1998 by the Good Friday agreement.”

Unionists in N.Ireland get used when convenient, but their voices are rarely the ones you hear in UK media. Ulster unionism is something of an anathema even with the Brexit crowd, as this article thread tends to confirm.

John Reic

14th August 2019 at 9:37 am

Good article with good comments from Brent Mckeon, but weren’t UK groups sent in to protect the Cathilics?

aidan maconachy

14th August 2019 at 8:43 am

A long winded article in need of editing about a dark period of N. Irish history… presented as usual from the perspective of the alleged victims. It would be nice to get the loyalist angle on this period but you might have to search hard in the British press to find one. In the meantime how about a completely different angle on a few reasons why Republicans mightn’t have had doors flung open for them in times past.

Loyalist Scots-Irish “planters” and their ilk were the drivers behind the industry, wealth and prosperity in Ulster. They served Queen and country while “the victims” ran intelligence and signal duty for the Luftwaffe in World War 2. These Republican collaborators helped the Nazis bomb the hell out of Belfast, with its rich targets such as Harland and Wolff shipyard. Ex-RAF vet and former Eire senator Sam McAughtry has gone on record about the extent of IRA collaboration with the Nazis, in addition to numerous other reliable sources. Not so long ago the Belfast Telegraph ran an article titled “It’s now time for Sinn Fein to say sorry for IRA’s role in helping Nazi warplanes obliterate large parts of our city” (April 21, 2016).

For some strange reason – despite a legacy of filthy deeds – people are mesmerized by Republican legends of suffering and woe. The sound of a violin and bodhran and the crooning of the Fields of Athenry makes them lose their critical faculties. It’s a bit different when you have actually lived in places like Londonderry and taken a close-up look at the bigotry and bs that infects the local nationalist history along with its hate-fueled ideology. Not to mention of course the sociopathic campaigns of times past that took the lives of innocent civilians, both in Ulster and on the British mainland.

Oh wait, the big bad Orangies never cut them any slack… okay well that excuses everything.

Jim Lawrie

14th August 2019 at 11:20 pm

The Orange Order was founded to give legal assistance to Protestants who had murdered Catholics.

Service during WWI and II in Ireland was voluntary, and many from the South and North stepped up to the mark. Your statement implying that Catholics did not and Protestants did is a lie.

The “helping the Luftwaffe” story had a version in Glasgow whereby officials at Celtic Park switched on the floodlights to guide the bombers to Bridgeton. The problem was that Celtic Park did not have floodlights, and also a very high number of Irish Catholics lived in Bridgeton. Not being in reserved occupations, a disproportionate number of these men had either volunteered or were called up, my grandfather from Tyrone being one of them, while unskilled players from Glasgow Rangers were found jobs in the shipyards to avoid the draft.

I think your whole post is a troll.

aidan maconachy

15th August 2019 at 1:22 am

Jim Lawrie said: “Service during WWI and II in Ireland was voluntary, and many from the South and North stepped up to the mark. Your statement implying that Catholics did not and Protestants did is a lie.”

Not sure what post you are responding to Jim.

I never used the terms “Catholic” and “Protestant” and wasn’t implying at all that ‘Catholics didn’t join up’ in WW2. I did make a broad based distinction between the loyalist position with respect to “Queen and country” and the treachery of those Republicans who aided the Nazis. I’m well aware that some Catholics (since you choose to put in religious terms) joined up.

Is your Celtic Park story a way of insinuating that IRA collaboration in the Belfast blitz was a tall tale? The historical record begs to differ. It’s highly unlikely that the largest mainstream newspaper in N. Ireland – the Belfast Telegraph – would commit itself to the headline: “It’s now time for Sinn Fein to say sorry for IRA’s role in helping Nazi warplanes obliterate large parts of our city” (April 21, 2016) if it was all a piece of fiction.

To make the bald statement that “The Orange Order was founded to give legal assistance to Protestants who had murdered Catholics” is a gross over simplification.

I think your post is an inaccurate representation of what I actually said, and avoids difficult truths with the Celtic Park diversion.

Winston Stanley

15th August 2019 at 1:50 am

Penned by the fundamentalist sectarian crank and DUP ex-MLA Nelson McCausland, hardly known for his grasp of objective scholarly research. Is his diatribe in the Bel Tel supposed to be like the NT, the written gospel truth and beyond any scholarly critique?

> In June 2009, he was appointed Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, and it was in his capacity as Minister that in May 2010, after lobbying by the Caleb Foundation pressure group, he wrote to the Ulster Museum requesting that it display a range of Creationist and other anti-Evolution material, claiming that it was the Museum’s job to “reflect the views of all the people in Northern Ireland” rather than to reflect the understanding of modern science. In response to McCausland’s letter, Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and noted atheist, said “If the museum was to go down that road then perhaps they should bring in the stork theory of where babies come from. Or perhaps the museum should introduce the flat earth theory”.[11]

Jim Lawrie

15th August 2019 at 4:03 pm

The Belfast Telegraph says it so it must be true. Is that your rebuttal?

Like a big fairy you danced around the mention of religion, but then in your attempt at humour, you used the word Orangies, and so revealed your hand.

You gave credit to those same Orangies for Service during WWII and implied Catholics did the opposite. not do so. I suggest you read the stats on the proportion of Catholics who served in WWII and the proportion of Protestants.

Dishonesty like yours will be dealt with directly.

The Celtic Park story was to demonstrate that there was evidence to the contrary in the ridiculous Glasgow rumour. You provided no evidence whatsoever to support your urban myth. Repeating the reference to the Belfast Telegraph does not constitute evidence or corroboration.

brent mckeon

14th August 2019 at 7:42 am

“Although a fervent supporter of a United Ireland, Eamon has always promoted the ballot box over the Armalite. He describes the Provisional IRA as those ‘whose hands are dyed indelibly with the blood of innocent people”. All Britain needed to do was have a full Irish vote on either an Apartheid separation or a United Ireland (all Ireland voting) and respecting the outcome, which includes protecting the Catholic minority in the North against the violent backlash that would have happened after a democratic vote. Those in the north who loved England could move there and let a united Ireland get on and move forward reparing the past hate and violence.

Gregory Buswell

14th August 2019 at 1:20 pm

You obviously know little about the plantation of Ulster if you think Unionists in NI only love England.

aidan maconachy

15th August 2019 at 6:17 am

It’s not about “loving England”… N. Irish Protestants are mainly of Scottish lineage. They earned their place in Ulster over centuries and blood and sweat. If they are faced with a united Ireland they will stand their ground. Few will be beating a retreat to the mainland.

Winston Stanley

14th August 2019 at 5:14 am

The past is whatever it is and there will always be alternate “takes” based on the perspectives of the various actors. Moral posturing does not secure anyone an authoritative voice or a “righteous” record.

The result of the long conflict, and of the peace negotiations, is the GFA and its provisions for a border poll if ever it seems likely that the NI demos may vote for a UI. Both states need to demonstrate that they are committed to the provisions of the GFA.

It looks questionable that Dublin is committed to GFA. Its only concern seems to be the preservation of the status quo. It has warned that either a hard border or a “premature” border poll will lead to violence. Those claims look cynical and self-serving.

Brexit is going ahead, whether Dublin likes it or not, b/c we voted for it and Dublin is just going to have to cope with that. Any pretence that Brexit might not go ahead is just wishful thinking or posturing on the part of Dublin, and in either case demonstrates a simple inability to reconcile, honestly and publicly, with reality.

The only matter with which Dublin need concern itself is whether it is committed to the GFA and to its provisions for a border poll should a majority vote for a UI seem likely. That is the condition of peace in NI, it has no other historical or democratic, political basis. Ireland north and the south voted overwhelmingly, in referenda, for the GFA and for its specific provisions, as the basis of peace.

The only concern of Dublin seems to be to maintain the status quo and not to actually implement the GFA. The indication is that Dublin is openly and explicitly against the provisions of the GFA. Dublin is already publicly set to jettison the GFA provision for a border poll should a majority seem likely.

Leo reckons that a majority would not suffice for a UI, that it would lead to violence and that the provision of the GFA should not actually be implemented for that reason. In the rhetoric of Dublin, the GFA and its provisions are not the basis of peace, rather the GFA, should it actually be implemented, is the basis of violence. The basis of peace, for Dublin, is to jettison the GFA.

Both states are supposed to be committed to the GFA, as the basis of peace in NI, but Dublin has already made it clear that it is against the GFA and there is some likelihood that UK also, under Tories, will jettison GFA and its specific provisions for a border poll.

The end result of 50 years of violence, and now of peace, seems to be that the two states wish to pretend that none of it happened, and that the GFA is not binding; or else to use that last 50 years as an excuse to jettison the GFA. In the rhetoric of Dublin, the GFA is not the basis of peace but the basis of violence; the basis of peace is, supposedly, to jettison the GFA. UK may well use the same rhetoric.

The two states now need to explicitly and publicly recommit themselves to the GFA and to its specified provisions as the basis of peace and democracy in NI. They need to make it clear that the GFA was not foistered upon the demos of NI simply as a pretence to secure the present status quo and the interests of the two states in the present status quo.

> Leo Varadkar warned it could divide people along sectarian lines and may be defeated or only narrowly passed.

He said: “I think it would result in some of the mistakes made 100 years ago, when partition happened, being repeated but just the other way around – a huge number of people, those from a unionist, British, Ulster background, being brought into a united Ireland against their will.”

brent mckeon

14th August 2019 at 7:45 am

As I recall N. Ireland voted against Brexit, is this not the opportunity to push (democratically) for a United Ireland effectively burying the so called border problem.

Winston Stanley

14th August 2019 at 7:55 am

Agreed, Ireland north and south is entitled under GFA to a border poll should a majority in NI for a UI look likely. As you say, that would solve the Brexit border issue. A border in the Irish Sea is the simplest solution for all of Ireland and for Britain.

Jerry Owen

14th August 2019 at 2:07 pm

It was a UK referendum which means that the overall result is all that counts, we can’t all take the bits we want, such as many in London becoming a sort of province remaining in the EU, however that isn’t how a referendum works.

aidan maconachy

15th August 2019 at 4:19 am

For some reason there was no option to reply to your above comment about IRA collaboration and the McCausland article in the Belfast Telegraph. I’m assuming someone would like you to have the last word on the topic.

A lot of people think BoJo is a crank, but he does get a few things right. McCausland is far from the only voice that points to IRA collaboration in the Belfast blitz. You would have to be extremely naive to believe that the IRA remained neutral during the WW2 period in N. Ireland.

Sinn Fein has been trying to whitewash and downplay the collaboration by their members for years, as they do any inconvenient truths in their past that show enough maneuvering room to take a deep dive and issue denials. Gerry Adams routinely denies he was a member of the IRA and of course he had nothing at all to do with the murder of Jean McConville.

They also deny that Seán Russell, IRA chief-of-staff in 1940, spent time in a villa in Gruenwald, Germany, and was trained by the Nazis. Take a look at Russell’s Wikipedia entry for more extensive details.

Prior to Russell’s time in Germany, Tom Barry, in his role as chief-of-staff in 1937 was primarily focused on getting Nazi assistance in attacks on British installations in N. Ireland. Barry’s plans were pre-empted by the more far-reaching aims of Russell who at one point envisaged an alliance with Germany. Ireland’s History Magazine has an entry titled “New evidence on IRA/Nazi links” that covers much of this territory in greater detail.

Part of the problem with peace and reconciliation is the persistent lying and cover ups that relate to the former activities of the IRA and their provisional wing. They have shown themselves to be congenital liars on many issues. Which is why reading “good news” stories sticks in the craw – especially for those of us who have had loved ones murdered in the course of their homicidal “campaigning.”

Lining up to support the whitewash on the issue of collaboration proves nothing except that the IRA has a very large problem with the truth and can rely on a lot of patsies to sing the same tune.

H McLean

14th August 2019 at 1:27 am

Great article. While the violence of the IRA should always be condemned, if you push people far enough there’s no limit to what they’ll do. From my time in NI about 20+ years ago, the interesting thing about the murals in Belfast and Derry was the Republican ones were overwhelmingly humanitarian in nature with equal rights being a common theme, while on the Loyalist side men with balaclavas holding rifles featured prominently, although it may have changed since then.

Jerry Owen

14th August 2019 at 1:08 pm

There are plenty of IRA murals with men holding rifles , what nonsense.

aidan maconachy

15th August 2019 at 5:45 am

I was going to say.

Arthur Dented

15th August 2019 at 11:45 am

No, there aren’t any more. They are much much more common in loyalist areas. In so called Republican areas people formed artistic collectives like ‘The Bogside Artists’ and depict historical, cultural and political scenes in the main. Loyalist areas are mainly controlled by the likes of the UVF and their murals reflect this. Living in east Belfast I have 2 UVF murals within 200 metres, one with balaclavas and machine guns. This is not reflected in Nationalist areas. Go see for yourself.

Jim Lawrie

15th August 2019 at 4:38 pm

These have been, in the main, removed. For the wrong reasons.

That action is now being used as the basis for having a go at the Protestants and as authority for telling them they must remove theirs. Whatever kind of murals they decide to have is up to them.

Jim Lawrie

15th August 2019 at 4:41 pm

Arthur Dented are you suggesting that paramilitaries are imposing these murals against the will of the people?

Jerry Owen

15th August 2019 at 4:44 pm

Arthur Dented
What are trying to say .. the IRA aren’t that bad as they don’t have as many para murals ?
What a trivial little twat !

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