Tuesday, December 28, 2010

90 Years Ago This Week

The War of Independence has escalated dramatically in the past month particularly in Munster. In retaliation for the Kilmichael ambush on the 28th of November in which 17 Auxiliaries were killed, the Black N Tans burn Cork City center.

The burning of southern Ireland's second largest city was condemned internationally. Britain is clearly losing the propaganda war.

December 18th
A Flying Column in Co Clare consisting of 56 men attack a joint RIC Military patrol near Ennis. Sixteen Auxiliaries/RIC are killed.

Brigadier-General Higginson (Cork) issues a notice saying that captured rebel officers will in future be carried on British lorries as protection.

December 19th
A flying column in East Limerick attack an British military patrol Killing two soldiers. The rest or the patrol surrender, are disarmed and released.

A conference opens in Washington DC to enquire into British atrocities in Ireland - it was subsequently addressed by Muriel and Mary MacSwiney, wife and sister respectively of Terence McSwiney (former Lord Mayor of Cork who was murdered by the Black N Tans) and the new Lord Major of Cork Donal O'Callaghan.

December 20th
8 British soldiers and 1 RIC are killed in an ambush by the IRA on the Kilkenny Tipperary border near Nile Mile House.

Two IRA men are taken from Cashel by Auxiliaries and shot dead near Kilfeacle cemetery.

December 21st
Archbishop Clune meets with Llyod George in London and gives him Griffith's truce proposal. Llyod George rejects it as it does not include the handing in of arms and he tells Clune that his military are confident of mopping up the IRA.

December 22nd
An RIC man is shot dead in a pub in Newtonbarry Co Wexford.

December 23rd
President of the underground republic Eamon De Valera returns to Ireland after one year in America promoting the Irish cause.

December 24th
On this day 90 years ago the Government of Ireland Act came into being. It is this document, and not the Anglo Irish Treaty of 1921 (as many seem to think) that partitions Ireland.

December 25th
An Auxiliary patrol in Ballymacelligott, Co. Kerry kills two men and burns their homes.

December 27th
In Bruff Co Limerick, the British Army and the RIC raid a fund raising dance for the IRA. A gun fight breaks out in which five IRA men and one RIC man are killed.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Books

The view from my balcony on Christmas morning

I am delighted with the books that I have received this year as Christmas presents. They are as follows.

This book surrounds the controversial life of Jim O'Donavan who organised an IRA bombing campaign of Britain during the early years of the Second World War. O'Donovan was funded by the Nazis.

I'm very interested to read about W's version of events during his controversial time in office.

Likewise for Blair

And on a lighter side, I look forward to reading about President Kennedy's 1963 trip to Ireland, which so inspired the nation.

And on an even lighter note, this 12 second clip from TV3 news is likely to become a youtube sensation.

And once again I would like to wish my readers a very Happy and peacful Christmas. Here is my favourite Christmas song, Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy White Christmas

I must apologise to all my readers for taking so long to respond to recent comments. This week, Dublin has seen the heaviest snow in 30 years and it has wreaked havoc on my life. On Tuesday I attended the wedding of a friend in Castleknock in West Dublin. The reception was in Carton House near Maynooth. It took me three hours to make the 25 mile journey in a blizzard. I also was forced to stay in the hotel as it was impossible to get back to Dublin. Anyway, this and the fact that I was behind schedule for the rest of the week s my excuse for being off line. So, here are a selection of pictures from a very snowy Christmas. It is in fact, the first proper white Christmas I have ever experienced.

The scene outside the church

The fields around Carton House.

My Car

The Street outside my house

Some very strange, large looking icicles.

I would like to wish all my readers at Gubu World a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Photo of the Day

The view from my window. Let it snow !

Monday, December 20, 2010

70 Years Ago Today 20/12/40

Bulgaria: The fascist government in Sofia introduce a series of laws to restrict the movement of Jews.

England: Liverpool is bombed.

Albania: The Greek army shell the Albanian town of Kilsura in the ongoing war between Athens and the Italian backed fascist government in Tirana.

Berlin: On this day 70 years ago today it is believed that Hitler informed his generals that he intended to invade the USSR. This decision was made in the wake of the failure of the Luftwaffe to defeat the RAF in the Battle of Britain. Hitler decided on this day that the USSR is the greater enemy and that he is prepared to attack the Soviets while Britain remains undefeated. This decision would cost Germany the war.

Unlike previous operations in France and the low countries, the German invasion of Russia would not be over quick.

Photo of the Day

Giant pints of Guinness, or snow covered bales of silage in Co Cavan.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Irish Army back in Lebanon

I am pleased to see the Irish Defence Forces will be back in action after a year long abscence. This from The Irish Times.

THE DEFENCE Forces are to resume their role in international peacekeeping after a year-long absence following the approval by Cabinet yesterday of the posting of 440 personnel to the United Nations (UN) mission in Lebanon.

The decision is expected to be approved in the Dáil early in the new year with Irish personnel expected on the ground in Lebanon in the second quarter of 2011.

Irish troops were withdrawn from their last major UN deployment, to Chad, when the mission there ended in May. Since then senior Army offices have been anxious to secure a new overseas assignment.

News of the new mission has been welcomed by Minister for Defence Tony Killeen and Defence Forces chief of staff Lieut Gen Seán McCann.

Mr Killeen said it was “vitally important” that Ireland maintained the commitment to international peacekeeping that came with UN membership.

“Overseas operations contribute greatly also to the development of the Defence Forces,” he said following yesterday’s Cabinet approval.

Savings achieved to date through the withdrawal of small numbers of Irish troops serving with a variety of international missions would help offset some of the costs to the State of the much larger deployment to Lebanon.

However, Mr Killeen said most of the costs associated with participating in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) would be met by the UN.

Lieut Gen McCann said he was “delighted” with the new overseas deployment.

“We have a long and proud tradition of service in the Lebanon and we look forward to using our skills and our experience to make a substantial contribution to the peace and security of the region.”

The Unifil multinational force currently numbers 12,000 personnel from some 31 nations.

The Defence Forces’ participation in the mission is subject to the so-called triple lock mechanism.

This means Irish troops can only be deployed on a foreign mission if it is sanctioned by the UN and approved by the Cabinet before being further approved by a Dáil vote.

Subject to Dáil approval, the Irish troops’ area of operation will be a 140sq km block extending from Tibnin in southern Lebanon to the blue line along the border with Israel.

The Irish troops will conduct extensive mobile patrols in armed military vehicles and will monitor activity along the Lebanon-Israel border.

They will be deployed alongside Finnish troops, whom they worked closely with in Chad.

The UN resolution passed in 2006 paving the way for the Unifil mission provides for the protection of civilians and co-operation with the Lebanese armed forces.

Irish troops were first deployed to Lebanon in 1958 when a group of officers went as observers. The first Irish battalion deployed in 1978, with Irish battalions remaining until 2001.

The Irish returned briefly following a fresh outbreak in fighting between the Israeli forces and Hizbullah in the summer of 2006. A total of 47 Irish troops have lost their lives while serving there.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Photo of the Day

I took this photo today in Wexford town. The statue of Wexford native Commodore John Barry, founder of the American Navy, dominates the Harbour. JFK laid a wreath at this monument during his 1963 trip to Ireland (below). Former president Eisenhower has also laid a wreath here.

Also of interest in this location are the beaches of Curracloe, just across the bay from the John Barry statue. The opening scenes from Saving Private Ryan were filmed at that location. The locals told me that during the filming in 1998 they watched the burning boats from the harbour wall.

Assange in Court

I think a former CIA analyst (whose name I can't recall) that I heard speaking on Irish radio said it best. Juliane Assange is entitled to try to leak whatever he wants, and the US government is entitled to stop him however they can.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Photo of the Day

The Kings of Leon. at the point theatre in Dublin on Saturday night.

Interesting Random Piece of History 7

Did Richard Nixon sabotage the 1968 Paris Peace conference.

Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States in November 1968. The Vietnam war was raging at this time and it was not going well for the Americans. In January of 68 the Viet Cong had launched the Tet offensive which the Americans ultimately repulsed but which led many commentators to argue that the war was untenable. In May of 68, a peace conference took place in Paris where the US entered negotiations with the north and south Vietnamese governments in order to bring an end to hostilities. The talks failed and the US would remain involved for a further five years. Today's random piece of interesting history addresses a controversial subject, one which I have come across in many books but am unaware of a definitive source. Did Richard Nixon, or someone acting on his orders make contact with the South Vietnamese delegation during the Presidential election campaign and urge them to reject the terms of the peace treaty in Paris, arguing that a Republican administration would achieve a better deal for the anti communist south. This is one of those thing that is often said but I am not sure if there is any historical basis. But I would love to know. Because if it is true, then the actions of Nixon must be perceived as an act of evil. At best he went behind the governments back (very taboo in any democracy for the opposition to exercise executive power) and undermined American national Interest. At worst he sabotaged a peace conference and prolonged a truly horrific war just so that he could get elected. All the more shocking when you consider that when his government finally did negotiate a peace deal with the Vietnamese in 1973, it was on almost the exact same terms as those on the table in 1968. It is an interesting thought, if Nixon was guilty of this, just how bad an act was it ? Any thoughts ?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Afghanistan on Track ?

This from secretary of Defence Robert Gates.

And more on President Obamas secret trip to Afghanistan.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Photo of the Day

The intense frost continues in Co Cavan.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Can conservative Qatar host the World Cup ?

So FIFA backed the Russians and the Arabs in their bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups rather than the British and the Americans. It sounds like something the UN would do. As everyone knows I love International Football and particularly the World Cup. Truthfully, I didn't really want the British to get the 2018 tournament because I associate the World Cup with exotic, exciting and interesting travel. I certainly got this in Japan/South Korea (2002) and Germany (2006). I don't think I would have been able to get too excited about journeying to Manchester or Liverpool for the World Cup. No disrespect to those cities. They're just too close for me. I wish the Russians all the best and hope I get to go to cheer on Ireland in what should be a super tournament, even though I do sympathise with the British since FIFA President Sepp Blater and Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin (pictured) are as dodgy as you can get, which naturally casts doubt over the legitimacy of the decision process.

The three Amigos went to Zurich to promote England's unsuccessful bid.

What really shocked me was Qatar beating the US. Frankly I think there may have been some anti Americanism involved even though I do accept that FIFA officials do appear to want to spread it around the globe these days. But I am quite convinced that many in the football elite (I'm not sure what I mean by that but you know where I'm coming from) do not want America to thrive at soccer. I honestly think there is a perception that, well, America is better than Europe at most things, here is something that we (the rest of the world) are clearly better at, so lets keep it that way and not give the Americans a chance to catch up. Maybe I am getting carried away but to award the tournament to a nation of 1 million people with few stadiums, ahead of the US with all its spectacular facilities, seems a bit odd to me.

Conservative Qatar
Like most people, the first thing that entered my mind when I heard Qatar 2022 was, its too hot, and you can't even drink in the place. I have since been reassured that they will have air conditioned stadiums (my God !) and giant fans zone where drinking and carrying on will be permitted. We will see. All I know is this, in the two years (2005-06) I spent living and working in the Gulf, the only negative experience I had, in terms of the concerns one might have about living in a conservative Muslim country, was in Doha Qatar. It involved what I believe was the first ever Gaelic Football match to be held in the country. I was playing for the Dubai Celts against Qatar GAA club. The match which incidentally was the greatest sporting event I ever participated in occurred amongst much fan fare. Probably every Irish expat living in Qatar was there. Many other nationalities showed up too. There was probably 1000 people watching including the local media. Anyway, we lost. But that night we had one hell of a night in the local rugby club where the match took place.

At about 3am when it was time to return to our hotels, the staff began to round us up. They shepherded us toward the exits but strangely would not allow us to leave. Soon after I noticed that there was a police presence. This unsettled some of the lads who seemed to think that there might be some guys after us. Things really got uncomfortable when we were brought into a building, at the entry point to the stadium and kept there by the police. Some of the lads in their drunken states were not handling this well at all. I too was concerned. I just didn't know what was going on. Forty five minutes later we were still there. We couldn't get an answer from the police who had no English. However, it eventually became clear why this was happening. It was time to go home, and the police wanted to supervise our departure for fear that drunken revelling might occur. Once enough taxis arrived, the police simply escorted us in two's from the building, to the taxi rank, a distance of about ten meters. I can't help wonder, if this is how they handled 40 drunken Irish boys, they better have a superior plan for five million thirsty soccer fans.

This incident brought something home to me. Muslim societies are terrified of disharmony as they believe it negatively reflects the wider population. In this case they were afraid that we might cause a ruckess in the taxi rank. I was told subsequently, that the idea to provide a police escort would actually have come from those who want Qatar to open up. Such people were worried that if the event had got bad press, ie reports of irate GAA fans, urinating on the street, singing loudly and getting involved in punch ups (as if we would), then this would have empowered the more conservative Qataris that say, if you allow drinking in the emirate, then next, it will be teenage pregnancies, drugs, crime and the gradual decent into the decadence so visible in the west. This essentially where the clash of civilisations occurs.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Photo of the Day

The snow is I think beginning to thaw.

90 Years Ago This Week

Following the events of bloody Sunday on November 21st wide spread raiding by the British Army takes place in Dublin. Over 500 people are arrested.

November 24.
Three prominent members of the under ground Dail Eireann are arrested, two of whom Arthur Griffith (Home Affairs) and Eoin MacNeil (Industries) are cabinet ministers. The third was Eamon Dugann, future negotiator of the Treaty.

An RIC man is shot dead on Infirmary Road in Dublin.

The British Labour leader, Arthur Anderson, meets privately with Prime Minister Loyd George and urges him to call a ceasefire in Ireland.

November 25th
Three British soldiers are killed in an IRA ambush in Castletownroche Co Cork.

November 26th
Two suspected IRA men, brothers from Gort Co Galway are abducted and murdered by Auxiliaries. It is unclear whether the men were in the IRA.

November 27th
Two RIC men are ambushed in Castlemartyr, Co Cork. One is killed.

November 28th
Thirty Six members of the west Cork IRA ambush two lorries carrying 19 members of the Auxiliary Division of the RIC outside the town of Kilmichael. In the battle, three IRA and 18 Auxiliaries are killed. The one surviving soldier would remain paralysed for the rest of his life from a head wound. The Kilmichael ambush has been a source of controversy over the years. As no mercy was clearly shown it has been argued that the Auxiliaries may have been executed after surrender. The leader of the flying column Tom Barry, himself a World War One veteran with the British Army claimed in his 1949 book, Guerrilla Days in Ireland that nine soldiers in the first lorry were killed out rigt. He claimed that about seven in the second lorry then initiated a false surrender where they called for surrender but opened fire just as the IRA men moved in to disarm them, killing one volunteer. Barry claims that he then gave the order to open fire and did not heed any further calls to surrender.

The monument above marks the spot of the Kilmichael Ambush.

November 29th
Two RIC men were captured by the IRA in Ballylongford Co Kerry. The British Army issued an ultimatum that Ballylongford would be razed to the ground if two men were not released and the Kerry No. 1 Brigade HQ ordered their release.

November 30th
Archbishop of Perth, Joseph Clune whose nephew Conor was killed on bloody Sunday holds a press conference in London where he details instances of reprisals against civilians.

December 02
Three senior IRA men are killed in Bandon Co Cork. It is believed they are killed at a meeting a British Army officer who they believed was willing to help them.

December 03
Archbishop Clune meets with Arthur Griffith in Mountjoy Jail. Clune subsequently meets Collins and the terms with which a truce may be agreed are discussed.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Deadly Israeli Fire

Forty one people have been killed in a deadly bush fire just north of the Israeli city of Haifa. Excellent blogger Juan Cole over at Informed Comment makes the following enlightened remark.

It is ironic that so much blood has been shed on who will possess that forest near Haifa, and Mother Nature just reminded us whose it really is: Hers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Photo of the Day

A cottage somewhere in Co Offaly. The big freeze continues

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mossad in Iran

Has anybody else noticed this little story in the news. It appears to me that the Israelis are not confident that they could destroy Iran's nuclear sites with air strikes. So instead, they are killing their nuclear scientists. On Monday, Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari was killed by a car bomb outside his home. Nobody has, and nobody will claim responsibility.

Photo of the Day

More snow, somewhere near Tullamore Co Offaly

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wikileaks Revelations

The latest releases this week from wikileaks has caused quite a stir internationally, particularly in the intelligence and diplomatic communities. For me, the two stories which most caught my attention concerned Iran and Korea. The news that the Saudi king privately urged the US to attack Iran would not have come as much of a surprise to people in the know. Saudi Arabia is the leader of the Arab Sunni Muslim world. Iran leads the Persian Shia Muslim world. Since the Iranian revolution in 1979 the fundamentalists in Tehran have sought to spread their form of revolutionary theocracy to the Arab world. They have done this by fomenting dissent in the nations with Shia minorities, most notably in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Lebanon. Since the turbulent years following the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Shia majority have found themselves dominating the political scene there. This is proving to be an encroachment too far for the Saudis. And the thought of them obtaining a nuclear capability, making them the most powerful Muslim nation in the process, appears to be something which the ruling elite in Riyadh are not prepared to tolerate. As I said, this simple fact of geopolitics is not shocking in itself. But for it to become so public is undoubtedly embarrassing and highly awkward for all concerned. I have a feeling that not many Saudi citizens will hear about this particular controversy. It would not sit well with the citizens of the kingdom to know that the authorities in Riyadh who are constantly trying to promote the concept of Islamic solidarity do in fact want to see the infidels take down the Iranian regime.

Hitler and Stalin comes to mind

However it was a leak regarding US, South Korean and Chinese relations that I found most fascinating. Apparently South Korean diplomats have told the US State Department that officials in Beijing have informed Seoul that they no longer value their relationship with the communist regime in Pyongyang. This is particularly interesting given the events on the Korean peninsula in the last week. Basically, it appears there is a generational divide among the leadership in China. Younger officials in the Chinese Communist Party see the relationship with North Korea as a nuisance referring to the Stalinist regime as a "spoilt child".

The leaked document states that

A new, younger generation of Chinese leaders "would be comfortable with a reunited Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the United States in a benign alliance," the diplomat, Chun Yung-woo, predicted.

But if Seoul was destined to control the entire Korean Peninsula for the first time since the end of World War II, China — the powerful ally that keeps the North alive with food and fuel — would have to be placated. So South Korea was already planning to assure Chinese companies they would have ample commercial opportunities in the mineral-rich northern part of the peninsula.

This, if accurate is a stunning development. It would represent a fundamental change in the national interest of the most important player when it comes to North Korea. Sixty years ago this month the Chinese Red Army entered the Korean War on the side of the North Koreans, driving American and UN forces South from the Yalu river on the Chinese North Korean border back below the 38th Parallel. Today it seems that only the older Chinese view the Korean war with sentimentality and that many in fact would be happy to see a united capitalist Korea. In the context of recent events and the diplomatic approach needed by the west to confront the threat, this revelation if true, completely changes the game.

As for the wikileaks thing itself. I think the Americans should concern themselves more with uncovering the many employees at the State Department involved in these leaks rather than obsessing with this Assange character. I'm not even sure if he has technically done anything wrong even though Republican Congressman Peter King saw fit to call him a terrorist today. And in one of the strangest examples of raw partisanship I have ever seen the New York representative claimed that the reason the Obama administration was not taking action against Assange and wikileaks was because Obama and those in his administration grew up worshipping Daniel Ellsberg, the man who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which exposed that the White House had lied about the conduct and course of the Vietnam War. I really don't see what pannicking or sending hit men after Assange would accomplish. For all we know, as in the case of Korea, these leaks could work to Washingtons advantage.

Speaking of Ellsberg, here he is appearing on the Larry King show this week to discuss the wikileaks phenomenon.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Photo of the Day

The snowy view from my window this morning

More Protest Pics

Below is a selection of pictures I took at last Saturday's Trade Union led demonstration in Dublin city center. It was the biggest most vocal demonstration I have seen in Dublin since the February 2003 march in opposition to the upcoming invasion of Iraq. 1% own 34% of the wealth. I dispute this figure, and I reject the claims of those on the extreme left who seem to think that the best way out of recession is to literally draw up a list of the 10,000 wealthiest people in the country and seize 50% of their wealth. I like this picture, it is taken from almost the exact spot from where the Free State Army shelled the Four Courts on the orders of Michael Collins in July 1922 instigating the Civil War.

A very clear and simple sentiment.

But just in case there was any confusion !

The iconic hapenny Bridge. A sign calls for a nationwide strike, something which I believe has caused division within the unions.

You can't beat a bit of political comedy. One poster which I didn't manage to take a picture of read, "We were supposed to get fiscal rectitude, instead we got rectal fistitude".

The new United Left Alliance is I believe a joining together of the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party and the People Before Profit alliance. Socialist Party MEP for West Dublin Joe Higgins is on the left of the picture. They intend to contest the general election in the spring as a unified political party

Trade Union leader Jack O'Connnor addresses crowds outside the General Post Office on O'Connell Street. O'Connor, as a main stream Trade Unionist was booed by many in the crowd during his speech because of his perceived weakness when negotiating with the government. It is typical union politics.

Most protests in Dublin culminate outside the GPO. As the headquarters of the 1916 Easter Rising it is a building with which the Irish people have a deep psychological connection. I took this picture from the top floor of Clerys Department Store on the East side of O'Connell street.

This image indicates the large crowd in attendance. The police estimated there were 50,000 in attendance, the organisers claimed it was 100,000. The truth was probably somewhere in between.

After the main speeched at the GPO, a minority of protesters held another demonstration a the O'Connell monument. A minority of these then went up to the Dail for a confrontation with the Gardai. A minority of these spat, insulted, threw bottles d fireworks at the Gardai. Here, masked men begin burning a picture of Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

The burning continues.

I shot this video below. The Gardai, in my opinion handled the situation exceptionally well. They resisted the temptation to respond despite the constant provocation. There were mounted and riot police in the back ground but they were kept at a distance. At one stage the dog unit was brought in but perhaps sensing that this intimidated the peaceful demonstrators, they were withdrawn quickly. However I was positive things were going to kick off Greek style as there were no signs of the militant minority calming down. I was fully expecting a riot to break out any moment. Then, when I least expected it, the regular Gardai rushed the crowd, split it in half, identified and arrested a handful of the troublemakers. A very tense situation was diffused.

Erin Go Bragh, My favourite picture from the Demonstration.

Monday, November 29, 2010

RIP Frank Drebin

The only man who truly knew how to stick it to the worlds worst terrorists and dictators is dead. Rest in Peace Leslie Nielson.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Erin Go Bragh

Erin Go Bragh, a very simple message meaning Ireland Forever.

I never intended for Gubu World to become a blog where domestic Irish issues would be debated. But with the reckless fiscal policies of the Fianna Fail government making international headlines and putting the future of the European project at risk, I thought it about time I addressed the issue. I attended yesterday's Trade Union led protest march in Dublin. Now personally I blame the Trade Unions as much as anyone for the crisis we are in. They were hardly putting the nation first all those years when they negotiated extortionate pay deals for their members from a government led by Bertie Aherne that was almost literally bribing the people (ie the massive public sector) for votes. In my opinion the union acted similarly to the banks, they did what was in their interests, not the national interest. It truly sickens me to hear them constantly invoke the name of James Connolly, a man who gave his life for the nation, the ultimate example of putting the country first. Leaving that bit of union bashing aside, I do of course share their anger and that of their members for the decimation of the public finances and the embarrassing and humiliating bail out all of which stem from a lazy government and Finance Department that did not monitor the banking system. News coming through tonight is that the terms of the bail out have been excepted. 85 billion with an interest rate of %5.6 is a colossal loan for a small country like ours. However I have faith in the entrepreneurial nature of the nation. The private sector will ultimately generate the growth to drag us out of this. If there is one conviction I am beginning to develop from all of this it is that government cannot run anything. Health, education, infrastructure, everything will be over budget and inefficient as long as gangs of solicitors, barristers and teachers who hold on to hereditary parliamentary seats continue to run this country with such spectacular incompetence.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Photo of the Day

A bronze statue in Swinford Co Mayo, commemorating the women and children from the are who were forced to stay at home while the men emigrated in search of work.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Korean Tensions

Well this is just what the world needs !

It seems clear to me that nuclear North Korea believes that it is now much less likely to be attacked due to its nukes. This explains their belligerent action this week with the shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in addition to the sinking of a South Korean war ship in March. These attacks have really surprised me. I thought that North Korea which is the most oppressive country in the world was on the way out, the last Stalinist outpost in a capitalist world. But it appears I was wrong. I would imagine that the tension in Seoul right now cannot be under stated. The eight million citizens of the southern capital are a mere 30 miles distance from thousands of northern artillery batteries, not to mention the face that Kim Il Jong is now a member of the elite nuclear club. My fear is that some kind of internal power struggle in Pyongyang will result in a robotic character of some description ordering further attacks whilst he makes the case to his comrades that he should succeed Kim Il Jong. Because who knows where that might end ? I am beginning to fear that the situation on the Korean peninsula is not one which will naturally run its course as I previously though, but will in fact have to be confronted and dealt with. In other words, war !

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bailed Out but back off Myers !

It has been an exceptionally difficult week for my country. The economy has virtually collapsed. When the global recession erupted more than two years ago now we were more susceptible to it than most because of our property bubble. However we handled the crisis relatively responsibly by initiating spending cuts and down sizing the public sector. Unfortunately in September 2008 our Department of Finance made a catastrophic decision to offer a complete guarantee of the banking system. While we could handle our budget deficit, we could not handle the guarantee as the cost rose and rose into scores of billions. So this week we had to apply for assistance from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. This is a national humiliation ! Anyhoo, unlike the many loud mouthed punters on radio and TV I remain a proud Irishman. I love my country, as old fashioned as that sounds I love every corner of it. We will bounce back. I am convinced of this. The highly educated, motivated and entrepreneurial under 35's or "Celtic Tiger Pups" will drag us out of this over the next five to ten years. That's all I have to say for now on the economics of it all.

The main subject of this post is not actually the bail out but the circumstances surrounding the foundation of the Irish state. Given current events, many angry citizens have been ridiculing the nation and its history. Perhaps sensing an opportunity, controversial Irish Independent journalist Kevin Myers wrote the following piece during the week in which he attempts to de legitimize the foundation of the state in 1922. I like Kevin Myers. He is a gutzy journalist. He is famous primarily for three things. He was a fierce critic of the Provisional IRA campaign and remains hostile to contemporary Sinn Fein. He has lobbied intensely for the official recognition and participation of the Irish government and people in remembering and honouring Irelands dead from World War One. Thirdly and most controversially he is a historical revisionist who opposes the established version of events in Ireland from 1916 to 1923. I support Myers in the first two areas. I passionately disagree with him on the last issue and frankly, think his timing was tasteless. Below is the entire article.

GERARD Murphy's 'The Year Of Disappearances -- Political Killings In Cork 1921-22' is very properly causing a major stir. Even more than Peter Hart's account of the IRA in the county, this book is revealing the terrible horror that befell the Protestants of Cork.

Moreover, it finally destroys any claim that a non-sectarian Republic could have resulted from the violence of 1916 onwards. In a society as confessionally divided as Ireland then was, with the general Catholic-nationalist and Protestant-unionist divide, political violence would inevitably lead to sectarian war.

Yet not merely does this State still celebrate the 1916 Rising as if it were a fine and noble thing, it is planning a swaggering bonanza in 2016 -- just as the remains of this pathetic, broken Republic are divided up between German banks and Chinese property dealers.

I've been writing a dissenting narrative about this period for most of my life and the response has been for me to be largely ignored by Official Ireland.

No matter. I can truthfully say that I invented the entire subject of historical journalism for the period 1914-23. Yet despite my work on the Irish and the Great War, I was not (of course) invited to participate in Sean O Mordha's acclaimed television series 'Seven Ages'.

Indeed, my exclusion by the 'Irish Times' from its supplement to mark the 90th anniversary of the Rising was one of several reasons why I resigned from that newspaper.

I say all this to establish my credentials here. Despite my knowledge, I've been astounded by Gerard Murphy's revelations, which clearly show that the campaign in Cork against Protestants and non-republicans was on a truly vast scale.

Most Belfast nationalists know of the terrible things that befell Catholics in the city in 1922. What happened in Cork was actually worse because it was accompanied by almost no chaotic street violence. It was a planned assault on a unionist community and executed with abominable method.

This villainy has been matched by the supine silence of Irish historians, to match their previous silence on Ireland the Great War. For Irish historiography has long been the academic wing of party-political republicanism, even though the main villains in Cork -- Corry, O'Donoghue and O'Hegarty -- who are at the centre of Gerard Murphy's book, should be well known to historians of the period.

The most sobering revelations concern Martin Corry, Fianna Fail TD for 40 years, a cheery psychopath and much-loved killer. How much the people of Cork knew about this vile Leeside Robespierre I cannot say. Many men -- and it is impossible to say what number -- were shot and buried at Corry's farm after being imprisoned in a nearby vault in Kilquane graveyard, which Corry called Sing Sing. As TD in the 1930s, he even jeered at James Dillon TD in Dail Eireann: "Come down and I will show you. I will show you a lot of things you never saw before. I would nearly show you Sing Sing. I am sure the Deputy would have to be very fascinating before he'd get out of it."

On St Patrick's Night in 1922 -- ie after the Truce and before the Civil War -- six members of the Young Men's Christian Association in Cork were abducted and executed at Corry's farm. That same week, half a dozen loyalist farmers were similarly disappeared in west Cork.

OVERALL, from the summer of 1920 to the start of the Civil War, 33 Protestants were shot in Cork city proper, while another 40 were killed nearby -- a total of 73 Protestant victims from a small minority community. From around 1921, IRA units murdered or "disappeared" at least 85 civilians. Some 26 were killed after the Truce, thereby making a mockery of the date that this State now chooses to commemorate the dead of all our wars -- July 11. As chilling as anything has been the toxic legacy amongst middle-class Cork Catholics, who until recently thought it chic to make jibes about a Protestant community which has never properly recovered from these terrible days. What you might call An Interim Solution.

We might have learnt all this long ago. A farmer bought some of Corry's land in the 1960s and dug up several skeletons in a mass grave. These were handed over to the local gardai at Watergrasshill, after which they vanished without trace. What a surprise.

Look. You cannot use violence in a divided society without militarising politics, after which, society's psychos and zealots feel authorised to kill their political opponents. The fundamental issue is not the dead of Cork or west Belfast: it is the use of violence to achieve political ends. It doesn't work. It kills people, but it doesn't get you what you want.

Moreover, killing innocents is not some aberration that only occurs at the end of a prolonged period of violence. The first victims in the opening minutes of 1916 -- which this Republic is dementedly determined to pretend was a poetry festival and for which it is preparing another grisly jamboree in 2016 -- were all innocent unarmed Irish people, killed in their native city. But then why not? Killing Irish people in their native cities is, after all, what our "republicans" do best of all. Step forward, Cork, 1921-22.

I think this is an absurd article that is badly argued. I do not doubt for one second that there may have been a sectarian element in the IRA during the 1919 to 1921 war. Nor do I doubt that some IRA men wanted to kill loyalist protestant men so that they could steal their land. But I want to make five crucial points.

1. The 11 months after the truce with the British (July 1921) but before the outbreak of Civil War (June 1922) was an exceptionally difficult and unstable period where lawlessness was rampant and law and order broke down. It is important to note that these killings did not take place during the war with the British when the IRA was united and the GHQ in Dublin successfully controlled and disciplined IRA members.

2. Once the new Irish state came into being in January 1922 the government took quite extraordinary measures to control the IRA, restore law and order, and enforce the new non sectarian constitution.

3. The 1916 proclamation of the Republic and the 1922 Free State Constitution as well as the 1937 Republican Constitution (which is used today) all enshrined the rights of religious minorities. If there was sectarianism in Ireland post independence it was neither official nor institutional, or if it was, then it was illegal.

4. Protestants in the Republic of Ireland have been participating in politics and been successful in business and culture since the foundation of the state.

I took this picture earlier today in Frenchpark Co Roscommon. It is of a statue of the first President of Ireland under the Republican constitution of 1937, Douglas Hyde. Douglas Hyde was a Protestant from the Anglo Irish tradition. Fair enough, there have been many Protestant Republicans over the years. But Hyde was not a republican in the sense that he had no part in events from 1916 to 1923. He was a member of the Gaelic League who attempted to reinvent the Irish language. It is a small indication of the non sectarian nature of the Irish state.

5. My most crucial point and one which I am genuinely bitter over is as follows. How does all this compare to the Northern Irish state which from day one after its creation was institutionally sectarian to the core where "Catholic need not apply" or as its first Prime Minister Edward Carson described it as "a Protestant state for a Protestant people". My Grandparents raised my mother in co Derry during the 1950's and 60's. None of them could even vote. I want to know why does Kevin Myers give Northern Ireland a total pass ?

The circumstances surrounding the foundation of the Irish State were far from ideal. As Myers points out, there was mass murder of Catholics on the streets of Belfast. It appears the same happened to Protestants in West Cork. I don't understand his point that it was worse in Cork because it was organised. The men doing it may have been organised but they were not acting under a wider plot that was sanctioned by the Republican leadership. A street mob in Belfast is capable of being equally organised. In any case both what happened to Catholics in belfast and Protestants in Cork were outrages that should be fully confronted by both sides.

But the arguments of Myers are weak. Two new states were being created during this time. It was an unstable time. There was movement of peoples between borders as different sides tried to place themselves in the majority with their "kind". Some Catholics moved south, some Protestants moved north and some were forced to move as a result of violence. Sectarian deaths were relatively low. There is lots of similar historical precedent as new nations were formed and populations began to move, not least in India/Pakistan, the Balkans and the Middle East. In these cases the death tolls were enormous. To use this argument to completely de legitimize Ireland's independence movement in its entirety is lazy minded journalism and to do so during such a week when Ireland and its people are experiencing such a low point is in my opinion a low point in the career of an otherwise fine journalist. I am not afraid of historical revisionism. I welcome it. There is no debate that I am afraid of but this time Myers is 0ff, way off and in bad taste.