Current Affairs Politics

Ireland Unfree Shall Never Be At Peace?

Well, apologies to all those who’ve contacted me over the last few days in relation to the street clashes in and around the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ marches staged by the Orange Order, the British Protestant fundamentalist organisation in Ireland, ‘celebrating’  British colonial power in Ireland. Thanks to everyone for all the updates but as you can imagine it has been quiet busy, but will post your stories here as and when I can.

Each July 12th we witness the British ethnic minority in Ireland, mainly in the northern part of the country, marching in quasi-military parades (frequently involving British paramilitary-based bands) marking the presence and ascendancy of British rule in the north-east of the island (though originally over all of the island). This year we have witnessed exceptionally bad violence in what has always been a violence-prone part of the political calendar. So what have the press reported? In the Guardian it is ‘militant Republicans’ blamed for the violence:

‘North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has blamed “militant republicans” opposed to the peace process for organising a sustained riot in the Ardoyne area’

This echoes the recent claims made in the BBC’s prime news and current affairs show, Newsnight, which implied that the series of assaults by British terrorist gangs on Irish civilian enclaves in Belfast and elsewhere, were the fault of ‘Dissident Republicans’ whose attacks on the British Forces and other targets had created a ‘reaction’ in Unionist militant circles. Which more or less repeats what happened in the earliest days of the Long War of 1969-1996 when British journalists blamed all violence on Irish Republicans, excusing or explaining way the murder and mayhem carried out by Unionist gangs as ‘reactionary’. So nothing’s changed then and nothing has been learned. The British media will always side with the British minority in Ireland, and with a few honourable exceptions, justify the violence of the latter – when they deem it worthy of reporting at all.

But the Guardian goes on:

‘Police officers came under attack for the second night running, with petrol bombs and missiles thrown by youths from Ardoyne. There were also pockets of trouble elsewhere, with two cars hijacked and burned in the nationalist Market area of central Belfast. A riot in Derry’s Bogside led to seven arrests, including that of a 14-year-old boy.

…Several police officers were injured, as well as a press photographer who was hit with a plastic baton round.

Police fired dozens of plastic bullets at rioters and repeatedly deployed water cannon after coming under attack from a crowd of up to 200 people.

The rioters also set fire to water cannon with petrol bombs.

The attackers kept up a constant barrage of stones, bottles and other missiles for several hours once a controversial Orange Order parade had passed the Ardoyne shops shortly after 7pm on Tuesday night.’

Notably while the collateral shooting of a photographer by a suspected Dissident Republican member in the attacks on the Nationalist enclave of the Short Strand received much British media attention (the intended target was nearby police officers) the shooting of photographer with a ‘plastic baton round’ (or bullet to you and me) by the PSNI paramilitary police has hardly been reported. Again, the British media siding with the British forces – regular or irregular.

So what to make of it all, this renewed communal conflict in a time of ‘peace’? Despite the promise of the Belfast Agreement, with its power-sharing regional assembly and authority in the North of Ireland between the Irish and British communities and cross-border bodies between Ireland north and south, the basic cause of the conflict never went away – the British presence in Ireland. That presence can be taken at its widest meaning, Britain’s continued colonial claim of sovereignty over part of the island of Ireland, or at its narrowest, the presence of a significant British ethnic minority on the island who form a local majority in the area the British claim as their own: the North of Ireland.

As the 12th of July parades aptly display that British minority is still unable to reconcile itself both to its historic and geographic positions: a small ethno-national minority, in the main descended from British colonial settlers, in a country that is not Britain or British. The British Unionist population continues to behave as if this was still pre-independence Ireland, a colonial possession within the so-called United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, where they were the holders of all power and privilege – as befits a colonial elite – surrounded by a sea of hostile ‘natives’.

There are of course some who try to present the conflict in the North of Ireland as a non-colonial paradigm, but rather as some sort of aberrant religious-based quarrel, a hangover of medieval politics, but this is to display a complete (and probably wilful) ignorance of the situation. The struggle in Ireland in terms of politics and communal conflict is no different from that in any other colonial or post-colonial nation or region around the globe. Just because it is Europe and the ‘natives’ have white skin does not make it any less a clash of colonist versus colonised, albeit one three centuries in the making.

It is only by addressing the fundamentals of the conflict that a permanent end can be brought to that conflict. And that can only occur when Britain withdraws its active political, economic and military support for the British settler minority in Ireland and places their future within the context of the nation of Ireland: where it inevitably, and rightly, belongs.

1 comment on “Ireland Unfree Shall Never Be At Peace?

  1. Bob Conroy Francis

    I cannot see how anybody can justify colonialist imperialism ruling in Ireland in 2012, but sadly it is.Pardraig Pierse was correct, Ireland will never be at peace until the british and their whole regime is back accross the Irish sea where it all belongs!


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