The Birth of Northern Ireland, 1921

Ireland’s unique colony-plus status was established in 1801 as a response to the 1798 rebellion. Conflicts during the 19th and early 20th century led to the successful Irish War of Independence, which culminated in the 1921 peace treaty. Northern Ireland exists because Lloyd George botched that peace treaty. Northern Ireland is a remnant of Ireland’s colonial period with a legislature which has the appearance of being temporary.*

The 1798 Irish rebellion was nipped in the bud by uniting Ireland with mainland Britain. William Pitt transformed Ireland’s status with the Act of Union, 1801. He created the Union through a classic 18th century mixture of bribery with coercion. Ireland entered the British political mainstream with 100 MPs and 28 Irish peers and four bishops in the house of Lords. Roman Catholics remained disenfranchised but otherwise it was a master stroke.

Keeping Catholics disenfranchised was a cause celebre. Eighty percent of Ireland’s population was denied the vote. Credible threats of civil unrest led to emancipation being granted in 1829. Ireland’s colonial status was unique, as it was integrated into metropolitan Britain. It used its parliamentary presence to considerable effect in the later 19th century with the Home Rule issue. Other, less favoured colonies, also pressed for self-government. The movement towards political independence was accelerated by the First World War.

By the end of World War I, ….. the linkage between the word “Dominion” and the concept of self-governing status [was linked]. The phrase “self-governing Dominions” began to give way to the single word “Dominions,” “with the ‘self-governing’ understood.” A resolution of the Imperial War Conference in 1917 referred to “full recognition of the Dominions as autonomous nations of an Imperial Commonwealth.” **

Lloyd George couldn’t disengage from British imperialism, which, counter-intuitively, expanded after the First World War. He gave the Irish Dominion status, and critically important, partitioned Protestant and Catholic areas based on fantasy sectarian maps. The post-Versailles geo-political world was ‘shaped’ by Woodrow Wilson’s self-determination principles, “At the centre of Wilson’s liberal world view lies the idea of self-determination of peoples.”***

Lloyd George should have used his superlative political talents to be as decisive as Pitt had been in 1800. Ireland needed a bold political statement recognising its tortured history. Instead, Lloyd George partitioned Ireland in an attempt to placate the minority Protestant Unionist faction. Unfortunately, Lloyd George regarded Woodrow Wilson’s principles with contempt because of their naivety. Wilson believed there were ethnically pure areas, which could be mapped and used to create new countries. Wilson’s self-determination principles have been characterised as possessing, “moralistic inflexibility and [a] messianic sense of mission.”****

Lloyd George’s animus clouded his judgement and he privileged the possibility of a Unionist rebellion as opposed to the certainty of a Catholic one. The Six Counties resolution was shoddy as it denied Wilson’s flawed but useful principles. Those principles had been exhaustively used in the tortuous Versailles treaty by Lloyd George but he refused to accept their validity in Ireland.

…the Northern Ireland boundary would be determined by a boundary commission thereby giving a false hope that large tracts of Tyrone, Fermanagh Down, and Armagh along with Derry City would be given to the Free State as they had Catholic majorities.”

Lloyd George utterly failed the ultimate test of statesmanship with the Irish peace treaty. Phoney sectarian frontiers fail and the Six Counties partition failed. Political resolution of the recurring northern Ireland crises can only be achieved with unification.

Notes

* Compare the separate Brexit-Irish negotiations and outcomes as a recent, 2019, example.

**https://academic.oup.com/icon/article/17/4/1173/5710822

*** Lynch, Allen. “Woodrow Wilson and the Principle of ‘National Self Determination’: A Reconsideration.” Review of International Studies, vol. 28, no. 2, 2002, p421

**** ibid p427

Sources

For the timeline of the vicious civil war, 1919-22, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Irish_War_of_Independence

This is a very significant and accessible article https://www.theirishstory.com/2015/02/09/the-northern-ireland-conflict-1968-1998-an-overview/#.XqfggW5Fy70

For a summary of the Act of Union see https://www.britannica.com/event/Act-of-Union-United-Kingdom-1801

For Catholic Emancipation see http://www.historyhome.co.uk/peel/ireland/emancip.htm

For an 1892 debate and petty anti-Catholic provisions see https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1892/mar/15/roman-catholic-relief-act-1829-amendment

For Irish Home Rule see https://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/past/history/18861893.html

For the partition of Northern Ireland see https://www.yourirish.com/history/20th-century/the-anglo-irish-treaty-1921

For Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self- determination see Lynch, Allen. “Woodrow Wilson and the Principle of ‘National Self-Determination’: A Reconsideration.” Review of International Studies, vol. 28, no. 2, 2002, pp. 419–436. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/20097800. Accessed 7 May 2020.

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A tragic deathbed scene

Jake was on his deathbed with his wife, Susan, by his side. He looked up and his pale lips began to move slightly.

“My darling Susan,” he whispered.

“Hush, my love. Rest. Don’t talk.”

He was insistent. “Susan, I have something I must confess to you.”

“There’s nothing to confess,” replied the weeping Susan. “Everything’s all right, go to sleep.”

“No, no. I must die in peace, Susan. I slept with your sister, your best friend, and your mother.”

“I know. That’s why I poisoned you.”

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There’s no stupidity vaccine

Cancer

Obesity

Alcoholism

 

                                              125,500 UK dead every year

 

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Bartender Joke

A priest, a rabbi, and a Baptist minister walk into a bar.

The bartender looked at them and says, “Tell me the joke. If it’s any good the first drink is on the house.”

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Tower Cumulus in the USA

A thunderstorm brewing

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A visit to Aunty Hilda’s, 1949

In 1949 I lived in the stark secure world of north London. Being five years old I didn’t realise that differences in living conditions could be enormous. My two brothers and I lived in a large ten room house in multiple occupation. Apart from our family’s four rooms the rest of the house was let out to other families or single occupants. It was a slum but to me it was home.

One summer morning Mum surprised me by saying that we were visiting her sister. I was told it was a bit of a journey and to make sure to go the lav, (lavatory) before we set off. We walked to the main road to catch a bus to Turnpike Lane in Tottenham. There we boarded a Green-Line country service bus to the wilds of Essex. This bus was an hourly service, whereas in London our buses were every ten minutes

We went to Chingford. I remember passing a statue of a rotund shop keeper with his right hand holding a huge plaster ice-cream cone. Mum told me were nearly there. We got off the bus and had a lengthy walk through pretty countryside. A little way up a hill was my aunt and uncle’s house.

Compared to where we lived, Mum’s sister had got it made. Married to a police sergeant they lived in a detached three bedroomed house, with their twelve-year-old daughter Shirley. I’d met her and her mum several times before, when they’d visited us in Islington. To my astonishment, which must have shown, we had to walk through a huge front garden, just to reach their front door. It had coloured strips of material hanging in front of the front door. Mum explained this was to keep the direct sunlight off of the door, to stop the paint blistering in the sun’s heat.

Aunty Hilda welcomed us inside. I was quite happy to accompany Shirley whilst Mum and Aunty Hilda chatted. Shirley took me through, what she called the hallway with its large wooden mirrored hat and umbrella stand. We passed the very substantial stairway leading upstairs, into something she called the “mud-room” before we reached the garden. The back garden had row upon row of lavender forming the curtilage of each flower-bed. Shirley encouraged me to run my hand through the blue lavender flower heads. The smell was astonishing. Later we lay very still and quiet on the lawn of the front garden, to catch grass-hoppers in our bare hands. The outside of the house had white pebble-dashed walls, with dark brown external windows and doors. It was a very lovely old house. Set in the ideal rural setting, with trees and bushes next to the road and grass verges. The visit really impressed me.

Mike

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Designer wine drinking

Ah yes! I’ll take a dozen

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