Current Affairs Politics

The EU And IRA Conspiracy Theories Of The Paranoid Brexiteers

Depressingly familiar stuff from the American writer turned anglophile polemicist Lionel Shriver in the UK’s conservative Spectator magazine, peddling one of the favourite conspiracy theories of the Brexit movement in the United Kingdom:

Derry’s recent car bomb underscores a curious omission in all the Brexit argy-bargy about a ‘hard border’. Throughout, neither May, nor Barnier, nor even Varadkar ever utters the letters I, R and A. Yet the scummy residue of this vanquished potato blight lies at the heart of the hysteria about hypothetical border infrastructure that could present a ‘target’. Decorously, no one ever says target for whom.

…the chief spin doctor for Jean-Claude Juncker announced last week that, with no deal, the EU would indeed insist on an Irish border with infrastructure. (I say: go ahead. Make my day.)

We can’t say that if protracted Irish and EU woe-mucking over the border is directly responsible for Derry’s car bomb and subsequent hoaxes, but it’s sure made ructions more likely.

…Juncker is using the North’s lost boys still playing with matches to blackmail parliament into backing May’s miserable withdrawal deal. When you use terrorists to advance your own purposes — as many a party in Northern Ireland did for decades — are you not also, in your way, a terrorist yourself?

This nonsense has been repeated ad infinitum by a number of leading Brexiteers and their apologists over the last two years, usually accompanied by delusional cheers of “No surrender to the IRA!” and “We won the war!” (that’s the Second World War rather than the more recent bloodletting in the north-east of Ireland). When the press in the United Kingdom and the United States publishes articles puzzling over the attraction of hard-right politics for young women, they should remember that the phenomenon is far from new and that the valkyries of the old right have not gone away (y’know). Speaking of which, the obnoxious British newspaper columnist and commentator Melanie Phillips writing in the Jerusalem Post:

As a slavish EU member, Ireland has allowed Brussels negotiators to use the fraught issue of the post-Brexit border with Northern Ireland as a weapon to force the UK to surrender its independence even after it formally leaves the EU.

The essence of this Irish passion for the EU is that Ireland doesn’t understand what it means to be an independent nation. Like so many cultures with a shaky sense of what they are, with an outsize chip on their shoulder and infantilized by being almost entirely dependent on others to survive (their “Palestinian” friends fall into that category too) the Irish hate Israel, the paradigm nation state of a people with an unequivocal sense of itself.

Of course, Philips has previous form on this ridiculous sub-racist topic, one borrowed from the British far-right, that there is no such thing as an Irish nation, but it is interesting to see the way that she has subtly merged it with the Israeli narrative that there is no such thing as a Palestinian nation. Or indeed, “Palestinians” full stop. Given the extreme views of the two journalists, it certainly makes one fearful about post-Brexit relations between Ireland and Britain if such notions continue to grow and influence events in our neighbour to the east.

Meanwhile, in Politico:

Equal rights in Northern Ireland threatened by Brexit

Legal equality between Irish and British residents in the region has largely relied on EU membership.

28 comments on “The EU And IRA Conspiracy Theories Of The Paranoid Brexiteers

  1. I wonder if Lionel still has her UFF mug. Sorry to hear about the death of the left-wing English comedian Jeremy Hardy.A man who worked hard for those Irish people wrongly convicted of bombings in England in the 1970’s and 1980’s. May he rest in peace.


    • Absolutely, Hardy was one of my favourites. Very sad news.


      • john cronin

        I met Jeremy Hardy many moons ago at the Paul Foot memorial at the Hackney Empire. He said “Many people say that Sept 11 was an inside job by the CIA. Ridiculous. That was a well planned operation.”
        Your correspondent then shouted out from the back of the hall “When is the comedian coming on?”
        Hardy then replied “You’ll be lucky to leave here alive, comrade.”
        I responded “I’m no comrade of yours, shorty.”
        Not exactly Oscar Wilde, but there you go.
        At the interval, I bumped into Hardy who was in conversation with Ronan Bennett. He said to Bennett “If I find that heckler, I’ll fucking kill him.” I then said to Ronan: “Oh, you’re the one who wrote Fields of Gold.”
        Yup he replied did you like it. no I said it was crap.I then said to Hardy “When are we getting on to the Hanratty case?
        He poked me in the chest and said “Fuck off you cunt or I’ll throw you out”
        I am 6 ft 5 and weigh 19 stone. Hardy was 5 6 and I would guess weighed less than half of that. I pointed out that him throwing me out would be a difficult undertaking. I then went back to my pint. A few moments later there was a tap on my shoulder. It is not often I meet someone bigger than me: imagine my surprise at seeing two such hefty specemins, both of whom looked remarkably like Frank Bruno.
        “Excuse me sir, said one of em “I think it would be a good idea if you were to leave now.”
        Under the circs I thought this was a good suggestion: was allowed to finish my pint and escorted off the premises. There is I think a moral to this story somewhere: prob to do wiv affluent bourgy lefties using minority labour to do the dirty jobs. Obnoxious little shit. Good to see the back of him.


  2. The recent bloodletting in the north-east of Ireland was hardly a war at all except rhetorically. Despite the efforts of assorted armed groups, more people were killed by motorists and no-one was very bothered. In fact, what’s likely to be remembered in England and affect attitudes is the DUP’s exhibition of cupboard loyalty at a cost of more than a billion pounds.


    • Death by car crash and death by bullet are very different things, though, even if the end result is the same thing. 3500+ violent deaths I think qualifies as war, especially in an area that was tiny both in terms of geography and population.


      • Incredibly dicey issue isn’t it? What to define as a war and what not.


      • Death by car crash isn’t violent?
        Are you Michael or Danny Healy-Rae?


        • Two loyalists coming through the front door with a sledgehammer and gunning down the inhabitants of a house can hardly be compared to some poor soul driving into a tree.


          • Tricky. I just got into a serious multi-car accident a couple months ago. Nobody was severely injured or killed but I and the people in one of the other cars were especially lucky to get out alive at all, let alone walk away with minor injuries.

            Far from being a blameless mishap it started with a rat-assed driver going on the wrong side of the road, who ran over a barrier and got into a head-on collison with me going about 35 miles per hour. And it was the beginning of a chain reaction.

            The bigger issue is how that label gets used politically.

            People in the US who opposed the Iraq war didn’t want 9/11 labeled as an act of war. Those who supported the invasion of Iraq did see it as “Al-Qaeda has declared war.”


            • Sorry to hear that. It’s a traumatic thing, even a mild fender-bender can throw you for a while.

              I think a fully fledged insurgency and counterinsurgency campaign, with paramilitary and military forces and groups aligned against each other over the course of three decades, qualifies as a war. The Troubles did not witness one-off incidents every several months or so. For much of that time, daily or weekly incidents were the norm. Sometimes they made the news, more often than not they didn’t. A British soldier being shot dead was reported in the UK press, albeit usually low down the list of nightly news items. School kids being forced off a bus by soldiers and forced to stand in the rain for ten or twenty minutes at gunpoint before being sent on their way, clothes and books soaked, made nobody’s news except the local community’s. But both were acts of aggression. I have a friend for whom that was a such a regular occurrence that that his secondary school stored spare clothes for the children on behalf of their parents and had drying facilities. That was a war environment, albeit one of perpetual war.


              • Thx!! Despite having acquired a strong flinch factor over oncoming traffic and driving fast, I’m mostly glad everyone lived. The medic at the hospital said I was one of luckiest people he’d ever seen after 33 years of military (including Iraq) hospitals and civilian trauma and ER wards. So I’m mostly glad everyone survived with
                no serious injuries.

                But that said, people have a wide variety of motives for wanting something labeled a war-or not.

                In Northern Ireland there were a wide variety of reasons to label the troubles a war.

                In the US I would tend to resist labeling terrorist events as “war” because of how the administration might use that label as a reason to declare a full blown open war because of it. I wouldn’t want it called a war if we have five 9/11s every single year- because I know that label would be abused by certain administrations.


          • If it’s merely a matter of the number killed, what about a drunken sod running down a bunch of cyclists?
            The question of what is an acceptable way to die varies from culture to culture. The fact remains, everybody, perpetrators and victims alike, regarded being killed by sectarian or military violence as somehow worse that a driving accident. It’ll be interesting to see if it changes, given the recent trend for jihad by driver.



  3. Jack Hawkins

    There are fears that loyalists may strike back in revenge after the brutal slaying of father-of-two Ian Ogle in east Belfast. Belfast Telegraph, 29th Jan, 2019. The Brexit process has given respectability to hate mongering English “Patriots”, casting Ireland as the villains in not providing our former colonial masters with a cosy deal, has lent vent to their insane bigotry. The right-wing Press has happily fueled the hate.


  4. Woah!!
    What utter toxic people.
    Thanks for the great updates as always.
    Joe Mac Cana


  5. How dare you criticise Israel Seamus, you’re obviously just an anti-Semite.


  6. You know it’s a tiny bit strange when you describe Shriver as an Anglophile.

    In her country of birth “An Anglophile” is somebody who loves English history and literature. Thinks British humor is more fun than more American styles of satire or observational comedy. Thinks British accents sound refined….whatever.

    Ireland-bashing, defending Britain’s treatment of Ireland, (or India or Kenya, or S. Africa/Rhodesia etc) qualifies you “an extremist” in the society Shriver grew up in-Anglophile wouldn’t cover it in the eyes of her teachers and peers growing up. Trust me on this.

    Indeed many self identified Anglophiles I know actually look with a small twinge of envy toward the modern Irish Republic. To their eyes having a British style Parliament with and elected President who operates like Queen Elizabeth looks a bit like “having the best of both worlds” in their eyes.


    • Shriver has the zeal of a convert to the cause. From a US background she went to Belfast, found British unionism more conducive her instinctive right-wing beliefs, and hasn’t looked back since, ploughing a profitable furrow among the British nationalist-right, from unionists to Brexiteers. A thoroughly dislikeable character.


      • I hope you do understand that even for a Good Presbyterian Girl from North Carolina like Shriver, her actions are considered “extremism” not just “Anglophilia” in The US.

        In fact, most Americans are terrified to touch The NI issue with a 39ft pole.

        You know as a protestor of The Iraq War I was actually told to be extremely careful not to say or do anything that could be used or twisted into making me or any other activists appear to be an IRA supporter. To the point where I was advised to anonymously deposit my U2 records and tapes anonymously at a used bookstore I don’t frequent. It wasn’t like people with Irish origins were being single out. Everyone was told the same thing about Cat Stevens records (Muslim), copies of Das Capital, and more. Some people were banned from visible positions due things like a sister in-law with relatives in Mossad, family histories that included high ranking KKK, an such. One guy whose grandfather was known for standing up for the local Japanese community in WWII, was told if he took that torch to oppose deportation of local families to Syria or Yemen he would do better to stick with that and minimize contact with anti-war movement. Why? Said grandfather was briefly a member of The American. Communist Party.

        You get the idea. There are things that would invite worse suspicions. But the fear factor of being accused of IRA sympathies is a real thing.

        I think it was like three months before these rules were laid down to me that Father Sean McManus’s key outreach woman in Washington State clued me in to how regressive The House of Lords, British Monarchy, and unwritten Constitution actually are. Before that conversation I was 100% unaware The House of Lords still had hereditary peers, the monarch’s status as head of the state church, and had no idea what male preference primogeniture actually meant.

        Pretty embarrassing!! But in a short time it became an ironclad case of “don’t talk about anything even vaguely related.


      • Dara O Rourke

        I meant to uptick this! Spot on ..The fanaticism of a convert. Like Conrad Black or Janet Daly. Or indeed our own Irish American Brit , Mary Ellen Slime-on.


        • Honestly, what she comes across as to me is an extreme cynic the more I look into both her political writing and fiction (some of which I read years ago without knowing her politics). Some of that might come from an attempt to adopt a more British style of communication, but I doubt that’s the whole story.

          Looking at what she’s written about politics over the years, including but not limited Britain, Ireland, NI, and The Troubles….even her sympathies for the Unionists strike me as an extremely cynical “lesser of two evils” bet. It looks as if she ultimately holds both sides in contempt, but sees the Republican side as worse.

          She comes across as a misanthrope in her fiction, as well. “We Have to Talk about Kevin” was a really misanthropic book. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the some of her more controversial subject matter, such as school shootings/massacres, or kids who seem predisposed to sociopathy from birth. It’s more the WAY that she explores the topic that makes her look like she hates humanity.


  7. Another strange thing. How does “The War” come into the whole issue with The Troubles.

    I’ve heard of The English say “The War” for WWII.

    But how is The Allies’ Victory over The Axis powers led by The Third Reich and Imperial Japan relevant?

    Is that a dig at Ireland’s neutrality?


    • No, the British cannot conceive of losing in a war, so endlessly make reference to WWI and WWII. Everything turns on these struggles in Europe and globally. It is at the centre of the myth of Britishness.


  8. OK. That video is straight up bizarre.

    I assumed that the reason “The War” looms so large in the British imagination was because The Nazis bombed the shit out of them, the food shortages, and the whole legacy where so many children were evacuated out of the cities and into the countryside-and apparently the ones who were sent away to remote rural areas suffered more long term mental health issues than the ones who remained with family but often *saw* quite a bit in terms of the bombing and destruction.

    Which makes the way they talk about it in this video all the stranger. Whether it was because of the bombing, food shortages and separated kids. Or because “they can’t conceive of losing a war”.

    Britain DID join the EU voluntarily, last time I checked. So why would a nation so adverse to defeat frame it that way? Also comparing the whole Brexit thing to “The War” seems to me like a form of trivializing “The War”.

    And with WWII do they “go on and on about the war” because they were a member of the Allies and thus the winning side? Or because they lost India around that time….although it seems bizarre to me to frame Indian Independence as a “lost war” because it WAS a non-violent revolution. (There was a lot of violence in the process but it wasn’t the revolutionaries objective.)

    Although this might be a ridiculous or absurd question in your eyes. But is “can’t conceive of losing a war” the reason they like stereotyping Americans as simpletons, or alternately as “too serious”. (I’ve been on the receiving end of that many, many times.)

    I’m sorry if this makes me sound completely dense, or utterly ignorant about the whole mentality of Britain, but I honestly do not understand.

    I’m not saying these thing to be contrarian…….I’m absolutely sincerely confused.


    • Britain didn’t join the E.U. voluntarily last time : the vote in the 1970s was called by the then Labour government under Harold Wilson to confirm the earlier decision by Tory P.M. Edward Heath to take the U.K. into the European Economic Community, usually called the Common market. I remember it very vividly as I was a Uni student at the time and it was the first time I had voted. I voted to join and we were assured at that time that the E.E.C. would never develop into a political union, with institutions like the current commission, etc. Those promises proved to be worthless with the creation of the E.U. in the early 1990s. So the 2016 referendum was the first time the U.K. electorate had been asked their opinion on membership of the E.U..


      • I’m no EU federalist, au contraire, but I’d rather keep the federalists in check inside the EU than abandon it to them and have a chaotic and unruly federalist behemoth emerge to the south-east.

        And that is quiet aside from the fact that European nations working with each other for each other in a close union is no bad thing. Especially after a couple of nasty continent-wide wars (and all the ones before, inbetween and after).


        • That is the real political problem isn’t it?

          How to balance the relative peace and other benefits the EU has brought, with the right of democratically elected governments to make their own choices.

          I’ll admit I look at the EU and find much of the decision making process off-putting.

          Even if some of the laws The Brexiteers were complaining didn’t seem that bad individual. Indeed hearing about Brexiteers complaint that the EU directive said 20 days of vacation time a years and Btitain goldplated it to 28. My friends on hearing that were inclined to write of the English as a stupid nation of overgrown brats!!!

          That said, the objection to federalism is not xenophobic at all.


      • Believe it or not, I can understand why people wanted the E.E.C not to become a political union, and why some people don’t like Belgium’s decision making process.

        I don’t even have much problem with Britain leaving the EU per se. If Britain or any number of other countries wanted to leave the EU fine, but they should had gone into such a with a realistic roadmap for accommodating a wide variety of interests who would be affected. Such as the GFA or that Airbus factory which might be moved out of Britain in the event of a hard-Brexit.


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