Think Tanks And Policy Institutes, Politics And War By Other Means

The centrist US news and current affairs website, The Atlantic, features a prominent article by H.A. Hellyer, a security-analyst with the Royal United Services Institution, a conservative foreign policy group in Britain linked to the UK Armed Forces, where he describes the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army as a:

“…Catholic organization insofar as it used Catholic identity for political ends, cultivating a sense of Irish Catholic nationalism to fight for the ejection of the British from Northern Ireland and for political union with their Catholic brethren to the south. But the IRA was not trying to conquer the whole of the British Isles for Catholicism, nor to hasten the return of the Christian messiah and the end of the world.”

Catholic organization?!

Catholic identity?!

Catholic nationalism?!

Catholic brethren?!

The controlled distribution of information is power. The controlled distribution of misinformation is even greater power. Just ask Trump and co.

 

 

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6 comments

  1. I think you’re fighting shadows here Séamus. You do after all have an article entitled ‘The North of Ireland: Roman Catholics 40% of population, 61% of unemployed’ linked just at the bottom of this piece. I presume you’re using ‘Catholic’ as an easy label for green/Gaelic culture/Non-Protestant/Non-planter descendants? I think that’s what the boul Hellyer there was doing too. Substitute ‘Taig’ for all but the last ‘Catholic’ and it’s a fairly sensible point he’s making, although not rocket science by any means.

    1. I’m afraid I must disagree on this one. In the case of the ASF article in the bottom links, “Catholic” really does mean someone who has stated themselves to be “RC”, and people who are “RC”, regardless of their political/national allegiances, are more likely to be unemployed in the north-east. You can go on from there to argue nationalist/republican/Irish or whatever, but in the first instance someone who is Roman Catholic faces greater difficulties in employment than someone who is not. That does not lead to arguments or analyses based upon claims of “Catholic” insurgencies and “Catholic” reunification or whatever crap the Atlantic is peddling. The argument he is making, essentially, is that the (P)IRA campaign at the heart of it was a religious one, and that is how uninformed American/international audiences would read it.

  2. I don’t think it’s false to associate the IRA with Catholicism. The Troubles grew out of the Irish Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, in which Catholics demanded equal rights with Protestants in issues like housing, job discrimination, voting rights, etc. A big part of the Troubles was the sectarian conflict between Catholics and Protestants.

    That said, I think that Catholicism actually plays a bigger role in Irish-American DIASPORA identity than in Irish nationalism in Ireland. So maybe this is just me talking.

    1. Catholicism is a shorthand, certainly, but (P)IRA was not a “Catholic” movement. They were, at least theoretically, left-wing, socialist republicans. Sure, plenty of old fashioned religious types were to be found in the movement but even they bowed to the movement’s official orthodoxy. Faith was private, republicanism was public. To talk of “Catholic” rather than “nationalist” is simply incorrect. It tortures logic to make comparisons between Irish republicanism and political Islam (primarily, Salafist/Wahhabi influenced) where none exist.

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