Monthly Archives: November 2010

Michael Collins – why I despise him.


My grandfather exalted Michael Collins. Yearly on the anniversary of Collins’ slaying my grandfather would travel down to West Cork and attend the memorial service on 22 August. He would meet old timers and tears who silently roll down his plump cheeks. His proudest possession was a photo of the bandaged corpse of The Big Fellow lying in state in the Shankiel Hospital Cork. My grandfather was a teenager at the time of Collins’ death and it had a profound effect on him.

However, despite my love for my late grandfather Donald Brennan, I cannot share his views. My opinions are shaped by my own reason and reading and not out of any blind deference to a relative however much I cherish his memory.

Collins was born in a republican family in 1890. His father was very old when Collins was born and died when Collins was 6. Collins joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood as he entered manhood. He moved to Great Britain as a very young man. Despite living in Great Britain he hated his adopted country. Rather an ingrate wasn’t he? A bit hypocritical I must say. He was in the Gaelic Athletic Association. He argued that the GAA should not allow policemen or servicemen to join nor indeed pensioners from these services to join. He took the bigoted position. A sports association should be about sports and not about shunning people, cultural purism, ethnic hatred and support for terrorism.

Collins took part in the Easter Rising. He was imprisoned in Frongoch in Great Britain and released after a few weeks. This leniency was astonishing. As it turned out it was very short-sighted. Legally he could have been executed. Look at what happened in Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary when people rebelled against their governments at this time? Some were rebelling for nationalistic reasons. They were executed in large numbers. The United Kingdom distinguished itself by its exceptional mercy. A fact that was never acknowledge much less repaid by the Irish republicans.

Collins was noted even among his IRA co-conspirators as being extraordinarily vicious. He liked to insult his comrades and wrestle with him. There were suggestions that he was homosexual. This tittle-tattle is neither here nor there. Most likely this is tart gossip. He was engaged to Kitty Kiernan right at the end of his life. The notions noised about being gay are merely that – there are no first hand accounts of anyone who had gay sex with him or who say evidence of this. It is likely that he was just being a man-child, horseplaying about. He called this, ‘grabbing some ear.’

Collins was happy to kill unarmed men. He did not do it by his own hand but ordered his subordinates to kill suspected spies.  He never bore arms himself in the 1919-21 period. The media somehow caught wind of his name. Newspapers wrongly attributed many attacks to him. His supporters in the Treaty debates lauded him as  ‘the man who won the war.’

He was chairman of the supreme council of Fenians. The Fenians was another name for the IRB. He went to London in the summer of 1921 to negotiate with His Majesty’s Government. He signed the treaty. This was breaking the IRB oath to secure a republic. It is true that a republic did eventually come to be Southern Ireland’s constitutional title in 1949. Collins’ defended his decision on the basis that it was the freedom to achieve freedom.

He was sent to negotiate as he had been unswervingly obdurate until then. Does that mean de Valera who wanted him to fail? This is illogical. De Valera repudiated the deal but de Valera had been kept informed of developments. Sean MacBride had gone back to Ireland many weekends carrying communiques. Moreover, de Valera was in London himself at times even visiting Downing Street. However, he did not negotiate himself. It seems odd though. People say he knew he would not get all he wanted and wished to distance himself from any deal that was less than the full republican demand. Prof. Roy Foster has said that the notion that de Valera wanted Collins to sign because he, de Valera, did not want to have to sell out, is a fundamentally flawed view. What do these people propose de Valera was hoping for? The Treaty to be signed or not? If it was signed for it to be enforced or not? How could any of these outcomes benefit de Valera and his cause?

Much as I loathe Michael Collins he was better than the republican fanatics who rejected the treaty.

They say that if the Dail had voted shortly after the Treaty was concluded on 6 December 1921 then it would not have been ratified. However, Teachata Daili went home to their constituencies for Christmas. They found that many of their constituents welcomed it and asked them to vote in favour of it. As Collins said that, ”the people are our masters and not our servants as some think.”

In the event the Treaty was passed 64-57. Collins spoke well in favour of it. I do not deny his talents.

He had met Sir James Craig in London by accident in a government office. Collins made peace with the United Kingdom. The UK gave him weapons for the new Irish Army. However, he handed these to southern IRA units and these southern IRA units sent guns north. There was horrid sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. Collins was breaking his vow to be at peace with the UK. His bad faith is reprehensible. He was pouring fuel on the flames in Northern Ireland. The UPA was also committing ghastly crimes –  the squalid murders of hundreds of totally innocent people – of the elderly and of children. Collins’ actions cannot be interpreted as a misguided attempt to protect the beleaguered Roman Catholic populace of the Belfast vicinity. He wanted to start a guerrilla campaign in the North. He was against sectarian murders, was he? If so why not try to protect the Protestant community too?

Collins may have ordered the murder of Sir Henry Wilson. Wilson was a very courageous man and the most distinguished Irishman of his age. He was the Chief of Imperial General Staff. He was a stalwart opponent of the IRA and had recently been elected MP for North Down. He was shot dead on his doorstep in London after having unveiled a war memorial at Liverpool Street Station. Wilson was blamed, illogically, for the murder of Roman Catholics in Belfast. Two former Irish Guardsmen, O’Sullivan and Dunne, was were trying to escape from the crime. One of them had lost a leg at Ypres. Not the best choice for someone who needed to make a quick getaway. They were found guilty of the killing and hanged.

The Prime Minister Lloyd George demanded that Collins take action against the IRA. At this point Collins did. Was the slaying of Wilson the immediate cause of the Irish Civil War? Possibly. It might have been that J J ‘Ginger’ O’Connell was kidnapped by the IRA. J J O’Connell was a pro-Treaty man, a high officer in the Irish Army. In order to rescue him from the Four Courts the Irish Army went into its first action, a victorious one.

Collins was shot dead on 2 August 1922. Tim Pat Coogan in his book ‘The Big Fellow’ suggests that it was Sonny O’Neill who shot Collins. It is impossible to know at this distance. I favour the cockup rather than the conspiracy theory. The IRA ambushed Free State convoys all the time. The Free State Army attacked the IRA. There was nothing unusual in that.

Once the IRA engaged Collins’ entourage he could have ordered the roadblock cleared and sped on. One of his subordinates ordered the driver to do just this. In fact Collins countermanded him.  It would have been a much wiser thing to do. Collins may well have lived on for decades but for that. One cannot doubt Collins’ physical bravery at that point but that is not the only nor even the supreme virtue in a leader. It may well be rather unimportant or even harmful. We do not need a leader who feels the need to prove his virility in this manner. A political leader is about other things such as decision making. Militarily I presume that his decision was unsound. I am not tactical expert. His enemies were unknown in number to him – in fact 5 at that time. They were hidden and in an elevated position. Sunset was coming on. There was little chance that the Free State soldiers would do more damage than they would suffer. This proved to be the case. Only two others were hit in that engagement – in fact they were slightly wounded.

Collins’ reputation was saved by dying when he did. Death as a career move, often a good one. He was killed before the Civil War got really nasty. It was partly due to his demise that the gloves came off. IRA prisoners were executed in many cases –  at least 77. In Dail debates decades later it was said to be 84 or 85. There were unofficial killings of prisoners at Ballyseedy.

Would Collins have signed off on orders of frightfulness? Almost certainly he would have done so. He was noted for his extraordinary lack of mercy.

The IRA of course became extra vicious afterwards. They destroyed much of Ireland’s heritage in their torching of stately homes. They killed pro-Treaty politicians and their relatives. I must say this in their favour, I have never heard of the killing prisoners in this phase of the war but as they were on the retreat and doing hit and run they may never have had the opportunity to do so.

Neil Kinnock, why I respect him.


I am a Tory and I detest the Labour Party. I wish to assure you of my deep burning hatred of the Labour Party whom I consider to be lower than vermin. I like to scorn Kinnockio.

I have been reading the orations of Lord Kinnock though and viewing them on You Tube. People like to deride him for getting a Third Class degree in Industrial Relations from Cardiff University. However, I must say I have a new-found admiration for his intellect as I do his rhetorical skill. They were delivered with more heart that Margaret Thatcher’s speeches.

I must underline the fact that I am expressing my respect for Lord Kinnock simply in terms of his talents not his views. The policies he espoused were as misconceived as they were worrisome. It is good that he did not succeed. I urge fellow students of politics to peruse his work. He was a conviction politician though he went a bit soft in the runup to the 1992 election. He was an able man. I am glad that he never had a taste of power.

Tha bailout in Ireland.


 Ireland is in a state of chassis. Who first said it? By chassis a certain Dubliner meant ‘crisis.’ The government has massive spending commitments and little money coming in. Something has got to give. We grew accustomed to living high on the hog. We are no longer on the pig’s back. We must slash and burn and not trim and singe. Other EU states are coming to our aid. People may say thank heavens we are in the EU. Oddly the non-EU states do not seem to have been afflicted. Norway, Switzerland, Monaco etc… still thrive.  Even the poorer European countries like Belarus or Bosnia-Herzegovina have suffered but not as dramatically as the PIGS  – Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Greece.

Brian Cowen is known as BIFFO –  Big Ignorant Fucker From Offaly. Often this is bowdlerised into  Big Ignorant FELLOW From Offaly. He is not telegenic. We are insulted for having potato faces –  well he and Bertie Ahern certainly have them. Let me look at his good points, he is an assuming and a man of the people. He does not put on airs and graces.

Cowen was unlucky in succeeding to the Premiership just before the solids hit the whirly thing. Ahern like Michael Collins made his exit before he could be held responsible for the seeds he had sown. Admittedly Collins and Ahern exited stage left in rather different fashions. On the other hand Cowen was Finance Minister for years so he must bear responsibility for the short-sighted and grossly irresponsible policies pursued from 1997 onwards.

Eire was not the only country where missteps were taken. However, it has gone more drastically wrong there than elsewhere.

We are still not back to the mass unemployment of the 1980s with so many derelict buildings and miserable wages even for those who were employed. We are not half way there so maybe we talk ourselves down too much.

It is sad to see Sinn Fein profit from all this. They after all have done more to disseminate acrimony and to impoverish Ireland in every sense than any other political party.

Mr Cowen is pursuing some very unpopular policies. Politicians rely on popularity. They do not like to pursue unpopularity. Ergo he would only be pursuing this one if he sincerely believed it to be right. I think it is right painful though it undoubtedly it. However, politicians must pay too. They ought to have their salaries severely docked as well.

I think the bailout and the loan from the IMF is the right thing to do. We must be ruthless in cutting waste. I would shut down many embassies. Why do we need them in EU states anyway?

For decades the Irish Republic was becoming more attractive, not it has become less so. Maybe unionist opinion will harden.

Shame on Godfrey Bloom.


Godfrey Bloom is MP who represents the UK Independence Party. He is no stranger to controversy. He is not a cardboard cutout politician. His  trademark blunt opinions are refreshingly welcome. This time he overstepped the makr. Martin Schulz is a socialist German MEP of a very europhile stripe. I profoundly disagree with Herr Schulz. Mr Bloom interjected ”Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuehrer” during Schulz’s discourse. This was a shockingly bigotted thing to say. Bloom was citing the slogan of the Nazi Party. The socialists in Germany were among the most dedicated anti-Nazis.

Much as I dislike the EU for many reasons it bears no resemblance to the Third Reich. One should not compare to the two. Bloom’s interruption was disgraceful, puerile and racist. This sort of abuse reflects only discredit on the noble cause of eurorealism. It is ammunition in the hands of the europhiles who depict UKIP as made up of stripey-blazered swivel eyed foaming at the mouth militarists and crypto-fascists who are virulently Teutonophobic.

The UVF of 1912.

People often say that the Ulster Volunteer Force was founded in 1912. This date is seen on countless gable end murals. However, this is wrong. It was discussed in 1912 but only established in 1913. This is insignificant and as the year 1912 is so closely associated with the UVF that is why the year 1912 has made it into the title. The UVF was founded by Sir Edward Carson, then leader of the Irish Unionist Alliance. The Liberal Government of the United Kingdom was reliant on support of the Irish Home Rule Party after the 1910 elections. I say elections – there were two of them that year. The Liberal Party had long been in favour of Home Rule for Ireland having tried and failed to get it through in 1886 and 1893. Edward Carson was a Dubliner who became a Conservative MP. Leading unionists met in a gentlemens’ club in London to discuss the UVF. They got a history book with the text of the Solemn League and Covenant signed in 17th century Scotland. The Protestants of Ulster are more of North British than South British stock. They decided to draw up a document based on that for their supporters to sign. The UVF ordered its uniforms from Moss Bros. The standard work on the UVF is ATQ Stewart’s ”The Ulster Crisis.” The UVF was prepared to resist Home Rule. Were they willing to fight against the British Army if it tried to enforce Home Rule? Possibly. Winston Churchill was then a Liberal politician. He saw the UVF as just shadow boxing. He believed that if Home Ruler were passed then the UVF’s bluff would be called and they would knuckle under. I suspect that the UVF would have split. Some hotheads would have meant what they said and would indeed have fought against the British Army to try to prevent Home Rule being imposed on Ulster. I suspect that half the UVF would have merely protested and used civil disobedience. The extraordinary thing is the succour the UVF received from the Conservative and Unionist Party. The Conservatives pride themselves on upholding law and order. Yet they were willing to countenance the UVF resisting the will of Parliament. It is a most shameful chapter in the history of the Conservative party. The minute the first soldier was killed by the UVF Conservative sympathy would have evaporated. The UVF set up committees ready to take over the government of Ulster if Home Rule were passed. We come to what Carson termed ”the question of definition.”  Where is Ulster? Is Ulster nine counties? Northern Ireland is six counties. Many of the more thinking unionists were beginning to realise that the nine counties of Ulster could not all be realistically claimed for the Unionist cause. The Unionists had perhaps 10% of the vote in Cavan. These marginal counties (Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal) would dilute their majority too much. By Ulster they began to mean perhaps less than 9 counties. The UVF seized police station and tied up RIC officers. They cut telephone wires. This was all for the importation of arms. These acts were blatant crimes. What if a policeman had resisted too much? He would have been murdered. It was shocking. The UVF believed that nationalists should obey all the laws they disliked but the moment a law came along that the UVF did not like they were perfectly entitled to disobey it. The UVF brought a ship in with great ceremony into the middle of Belfast. Its arrival was widely announce and keenly anticipated by thousands of UVF men. The RIC were there in force. The cargo was unloaded. Not a single rifle was aboard. This was a blind. The guns for the UVF were delivered in the middle of the night to several small ports around Ulster. The UVF had organised a slick and secret system of cars picking up the guns and distributing them to pre-arranged hiding place. This was April 1914. The approach of the Irish Volunteers in July 1914 could not have been more different. The UVF was almost all Protestant. They feared Roman Catholic domination. Most historians glibly dismiss these fears as totally chimerical. But it is hard to think that as these anxieties were so strongly and so widely felt that they were altogether without foundation. The Duke of Abercorn was the leading nobleman in Ulster and later Governor of Northern Ireland. He said ”Home Rule will be Rome Rule.” Given what happened in Southern Ireland later it seems that he was not fat wrong. The Solemn League and Covenant spelt out the concerns of the UVF. It was signed by almost half of all Protestant Ulstermen. The other half seldom opposed the UVF it was just that many of them were apolitical. There was a Presbyterian minister Armour who bravely went against the stream and advocated Home Rule.
The Solemn League and Covenant said that Home Rule would be destructive of their civil and religious liberties, would make them lose their citizenship of the United Kingdom, would weaken the Empire, would be economically diastrous to Ulster and the whole of Ireland. It is notable that they were concerned with the whole of Ireland. They believed that if they could prevent Home Rule coming to Ulster they would prevent it for the whole of Ireland. They did not wish to expel southern Ireland from the UK!
Unionists rallies oftenn had banners saying ”we will not have Home Rule for Ireland.” Unionists happily called themselves Irish but saw no contradiction between this and being British. For them one fitted inside the other just as one may be English within British or Welsh within British. The Unionists in the north were only beginning to stress their Ulster identity more as Home Rule seemed more and more probable for the south and the need to plead a special case for Ulster seemed ever more apparent.
Belfast had a bigger population than Dublin then. Belfast was industrial and the centre of shipbuilding. Belfast built the Titanic. It was not the fault of the seawrights that she sank. She was admirably built.

A CELTA dream


I dreamt last night that I was doing CELTA again. I did that wretched qualification several years back. Gemma was the name of my assessor. Anyhow, there was a page of things to read. I could not read her blue handwriting. I had to change the verb forms or something. I could not for the life of me make head nor tail of it. I called her over and sought her help.

It was frustrating and humiliating. I was sure to fail.

I found that dashed course frightfully difficult. I almost failed in reality. I was at a party at my colleague Robyn’s house last night. I was half drunk and told my colleague Annie about the CELTA course and how I came within an ace of failing it.

The successes of the Irish Republic.


John Waters wrote ”An intelligent person’s guide to modern Ireland.” I am not sure what especial claim he can lay to pen such a work. What a great marketing ploy. Entitle the whole series of books such that they appeal to the vanity of the readership. If I buy this it must mean I am intelligent. In this turgid yet trite work he makes some worthwhile observations. For instance, he says that up to and including the 1970s the Republic of Ireland had been an economic failure. Half the young emigrated. People were bred like cattle for export, I do not recall who said it.

Prices were higher than in the UK yet taxes were higher too and wages were lower.

There were many other things to loathe. The crushing Catholic conformity. In migration we look at push and pull factors. The push factors were not all economic. We were a virtual theocracy. I must own that was how most wanted it. Politicians passed laws that pleased the Roman Catholic church because their constituents demanded it. For the minority of secularists it was a cold house indeed. Personal liberty was restricted in the spheres of divorce, contraception, literature etc….

Anyhow, the Irish Republic began to sort itself out. Shedloads of EEC cash helped. The infrastructure was improved markedly. It took until about 1990 before the Irish Republic became very prosperous. After so many lean years we suddenly had fat years.

In 2000 I saw a statistic saying something like 20% of all the houses were under 20 years old. Jobs were plentiful. We liberalised in other ways – allowing homosexuality and divorce. The unattractive side of the Republic of Ireland was vanishing.

I have long been a unionist. This is chiefly due to us being on the British peoples. The other thing is that the Republic of Ireland was unappealing. But it got its house in order and became increasingly attractive in the 1990s. The Celtic tiger pounced. But there were notes of caution sounded. Was it all getting too good too fast? Was the economy overheating? I actually do not know what that means. Was the Irish Republic setting itself up for a big fall? Well it happened. It seemed pessimistic to sound a warning. Anyone who said these things was denounced as a naysayer and a defeatist.

Taxes were low and made lower. It was splendid. It was a beacon to the capitalist world. The Irish Republic became one of the richest and freest countries in the world.

We borrowed too much. Like the 1920s people assumed that the value of investments could only go one way. It was myopic.

Maybe unionists softened their stance partly because the Republic of Ireland became prettier. They may harden up again now.

The Irish Oppression myth.


M.O.P.E. – most oppressed people ever. This was a term coined in the 1990s to ridicule Gerry Adams’ claim that the Irish were more ill-treated than any people at any time in history. This extraordinary claim is as dangerous as it is false. It is not just part of a historical debate but a plank of Irish republicanism drive to terrorise and to oppress. Irish republicanism is that mode of thought that supports the IRA, the IRA of whatever faction. Sinn Fein can still be said to be republican even though it does not at the moment advocate terrorism. Despite Fianna Fail’s subtitle (the Republican Party) it is not republican. Yes, it harbours the aspiration for Northern Ireland to be wrested from the UK and to merge into the Irish Republic.

 Irish nationalism is more moderate that Irish republicanism. Irish nationalism does not necessarily advocate complete separation from Great Britain. Irish nationalism is not of course a monolith and a diversity of views exists within this broad outlook. However, the trope that the connection with Great Britain was bad news is nevertheless the core mythology of the Irish nationalist mindset. Northern Ireland uniting with the Republic is another shibboleth of this viewpoint. The irony is of course is that nationalists and not unionists partitioned Ireland. Nationalists seceded from the UK, it was not that Southern Ireland was expelled from the United Kingdom. No unionists argued for Southern Ireland to be kicked out of the UK. If unionists are all foaming at the mouth anti-Catholics they would have argued for this. Indeed in 1940 and 1941 Eamonn de Valera, the Taoiseach of Eire, was twice publicly offered Irish unity in an independent dominion in return for entering the Allied side in the war. He refused both times. Even unionists were willing to contemplate this. Had de Valera been genuinely eager to end partition then an end to partition was offered to him on a plate.

This is not to say that unpleasant things were done in Ireland and sometimes done by people from our neighbour to the east. Henry VIII for example was cruel and dishonourable. His Maynooth pardon being the killing of all who surrendered to him there. He is estimated to have slain 100 000 people in England. He was a bloody tyrant but he was no worse in Ireland than in England. Where barbarities occurred it was generally due to the epoch and not some anti-Irish stance.
 The whole of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom from 1 January 1801 to December 1921. Northern Ireland remain in the UK. Prior to 1801 Ireland was a kingdom that shared the king of Great Britain and before that the King of England. Before 1543 we were a Lordship attached to the Crown of England. We have long had a political connection with Great Britain. By 1921 we lived as co-equal citizens with our brothers and sisters in Wales, Scotland and England. The United Kingdom was one of the freest countries in the world. One had to right to do as one wished, say what one wanted, go where on wanted, to found a political party, to stand for election, to trade, to set up a business, to emigrate if need be. These rights were tempered by the mores of the times. For instance, insulting Christianity is allowed in the UK now but it is not then as the great majority of people would have been against it. The UK was a democracy and very few countries could say that at the time: most of the Western European countries were democracies as was the US and some of the British dominions. Most of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe were at pre-democratic stages in their history with the majority of the populace being totally illiterate.

 There were no discriminatory laws in Ireland in 1921. There had been earlier. Until Catholic Emancipation in 1829 there was extensive anti-Catholic discrimination. This was only changed by the Act of Union and a mass campaign to achieve legal equality. An Act to Prevent the Further Growth of Popery was passed by the Irish Parliament in 1704. It contained wide-ranging provisions to treat Roman Catholics unfairly. Roman Catholics required permission to travel abroad, to set up schools, for priests to come into the country. They were forbidden to own a horse worth more than 5 pounds. These laws were totally unfair. The purpose behind them was partly to pressure people into converting to Protestantism. It was also to prevent a Jacobite comeback. Priests were seen, often rightly, as being recruiting sergeants for the Jacobite cause. These anti-Catholic laws were debated, drafted and passed in Ireland by Irishmen. It was one set of Irishmen mistreating the other set. It was Irish Protestants doing this. Yet some would blame the injustices of three hundred years ago on Great Britain in 2010. This is absurd and totally unfair. Yes, the Irish Protestants were mostly descendants from migrants from Great Britain in the 17th and 16th centuries. But this does not mean that they were not Irish. Everyone in Ireland, just about, has an ancestor from Great Britain. Irish republicans claim that the Irish Protestant community could only do this as they had the backing of Great Britain. The Irish Protestants were a minority of perhaps 20% of the people and they were well-armed and highly organised. They dominated in the towns. Dublin in 1700 was about 60% Protestant. This republican claim is probably untrue. If it had come to a fight the Protestant community probably would have won. The Roman Catholic community had lost its leaders in the 1607 Flight of the Earls and after the breaking of the Treaty of Limerick in 1689. In those times most countries were very hierarchical and it was difficult for anyone to be accepted as a doyen who did not hail from the upper orders. Therefore the largely leaderless Roman Catholic community would have found it difficult to sustain a fight against the Protestant community. It is merciful that a religious war was avoided as these tend to be the worst bloodbaths of all. Witness the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War, the French Wars of Religion and the Partition of India. Because there was very little left of the Roman Catholic gentry the priests assumed an even more important role in the community than theretofore. Plus, in rural communities they were often the font of education. Many priests had been educated at seminaries on the Continent and had a broader worldview because of this.

The Act to Prevent the Further Growth of Popery was not much enforced. Scores of Roman Catholic schools flourished and there were plenty priests around.Edmund Burke argued for the abolition of the act on a number of grounds. First the act was so downright unjust. Second, even if one agree with the aim the act had utterly failed to prevent the regeneration of Roman Catholicism.

Never trust the bite of a dog, the kick of an ass and the word of an Englishman.” That was an adage in Ireland. I may have rendered it slightly wrong but the message is plain. It is clearly racist to label the English dishonest, it is little better than saying that we Irishmen are dim. There are ghastly chapters in Irish history. The Potato Famine of the 1840s, the 1798 Rebellion, the English Civil war as it effected Ireland, the Nine years war and so on. There were massacres carried out by Crown Forces such as the murders on Dursey Island. This article in not a whitewash. This article seeks to restore perspective and balance. There were atrocities committed by Roman Catholics as well as by Protestants. They were far more crimes committed by rebels than by the Crown Forces. I speak of sectarian murders from the 1640s up until the present day. The Crown Forces were subject to courts martial and could and were tried for wrongdoing. Rebels seldom to never punished their men for committing atrocities.

”Through the leaden rain seven tongues of flame made perfidious Albion reel.” – this is a line from ”The Foggy Dew”, a song written by a republican minded Roman Catholic priest about the Easter Rising. The use of the opprobrious term ”Perfidious Albion” is plainly racist. It would be equally stupid and bigotted to speak of ”Alcoholic Ireland” or ”Terrorist Ireland.” This language reveals the Anglophobic trope that informs much of republican discourse.

The Potato Famine deserves an article of its own. Put simply, it was a huge and tragic natural disaster. Irish republicans like to exploit this in order to generate odium towards Great Britain and to attempt to justify their crimes today. They wish to posthumously conscript the dead into their cause. Irish republicans like to call this horrendous event ”the Great Hunger”. They claim that one cannot use the word famine when their was an abundance of foodstuffs in the country. George Bernard Shaw in his ”John Bull’s Other Island” made this point. (Shaw is an interesting case in his own right –  a study in spite and bigotry. Like many an Irish republican he spat venom at Great Britain which he made his home. He said, ”I would rather be burned at the stake by Irish Catholics than saved by English Protestants.” Even allowing for poetic licence this is still a statement of the most ghastly Anglophobic prejudice. It is in the light of this that his invention of the phrase ”An Gort Mor” must be seen). However, in ”Ulster conflict and Consensus” by Wilson one sees that this is a fallacy. More food was arriving in Ireland than leaving. The food exportation meme is dangerous. It is part of the republican bid to repaint this ghastly event as genocide. Murals in Belfast dub it ”the Irish Holocaust” and falsely inflate the figures of those who died and emigrated.

The old canard is wheeled out that Queen Victoria gave as much to the famine relief appeal as to Battersea Dogs’ Home. The Government organised relief in Ireland but it was inadequate. The relief still proves this was no genocide. Why go through the pretence of feeding people if you want them to die or leave the country? Relief work was started. Many roads in Clare were torn up to be rebuilt as famine relief work. Many railway lines date from this time. Look at Heuston Stattion in Dublin – dated 1846. Famine fever made morbidity worse.

There were famines before this such as in the 1740s. There was a famine in Great Britain also in the 1840s but it was much less severe. The late 1840s was a time of starvation through much of Europe – hence the year of revolutions in 1848. There were no more famines after the 1840s in Ireland. Why was this? The overcrowded districts were eased by emigration and better agricultural methods were used/

 Republicans tell lies about the past as they do about the present. They wish to exploit the apolitical victims of this grievous happening so as to make political mileage now. This means of trying to make capital out of the suffering of people long dead is indeed reprehensible. Dishonesty and the abuse of innocent victims if not of course the sole preserve of those of one attitude. ”Dead generations” , said the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in Easter 1916, ”from which she receives her tradition of nationhood.” That is mainly what it is about for Irish republicans – ”the dead.”  Theirs is a necrophile discourse. Many Irish republicans had compromised since 1798 and become moderates and constitutionalists. Yet the Irish republican movement always tries to claim the dead as being members of the most fanatical faction of Irish republicanism. This is dishonest and distasteful. It would be equally wrong for loyalists to say that they can never compromise as members of their side died for this and that and that the dead would surely advocate the most obdurate policy and therefore one must adhere to this most obdurate stance. I wonder if even ”President” Pearse himself if he were alive today, seeing the century of suffering and anguish that he brought upon Ireland would not have his heart moved to compassion and ask people to stop the violence. ”The old heart of Europe needs to be warmed with the red wine of battlefields”, he said. Maybe my wish to attribute a modicum of humanity to him was wrong in view of this most bloodthirsty pronouncement. He did not say this in ignorance in time of peace. He said this in the midst of the Great War when such outbursts were made in an informed manner.

 There is often a misconception that past insurrections in Ireland were nationalistic in motivation. There were rebellions in Medieval and Early Modern Ireland but mostly they were not nationalist in character. They were often against a particular policy, tax or unpopular official. The same is true of England and Wales at that time. For instance in 1641 the Confederation of Kilkenny revolted against the Protestant settlers. The ”rebels” were ultra-loyal to Charles I. These so-called rebels are then claimed as spiritual forefathers by the republican movement of today when nothing could be further from the truth. It is a very inversion of the reality. The First and Second Desmond rebellions were about anti-Protestantism, anti-migrant feeling and opposition to Elizabeth. If successful they would not have broken with England. Far from it, they would have united more closely as they hoped to make England Roman Catholic again. They hoped that Philip II would rule Ireland, Wales, England his Spanish domains. The Williamite Wars show that most Irish Roman Catholics were loyal to the true king, James II. Yet they are claimed as having been proto-republicans. This is utterly fallacious. The only connection between the Jacobite and the republicans is that most are Roman Catholic. There you have it, sectarianism. The identification with one religious denomination as against the other is what defines Irish republicanism.

Ireland was clannish into the 17th century. Ireland was deeply divided and there were near constant feuds between the different clans just as persisted in Scotland into the late 18th century. People talk of ”divide et impera”  – there was no need for the Crown to do this it was already so. There were far more rebellions in 16th century England than in 16th century Ireland. 16th century England witnessed – in no particular order – the revolt against the Amicable Grant, the last stirrings of the Yorkists, the Western Rebellion, the Pilgrimage of Grace, Kett’s rebellion, the Wyatt Plot, the Ridolfi Plot, the Rebellion of the Northern Earls etc… Perhaps part of the reason for this is that there was no so much government to rebel against in Ireland.

 Until the 17th century the Irish Crown governed only the eastern part of the country and a few ports effectively. There was a policy of dyarchy rather like in India until 1947. Some territory was under direct royal administration executed by the Lord Deputy. Some territory was governed indirectly by Native Irish chieftains. They had to do homage and pay tribute to the Crown but other than that they ran their own show. The 18th century was remarkably peaceful in Ireland. There were sectarian clashes in the 1790s leading to the 1798 Rebellion. After that there was the odd ruction but on the whole the 19th century was very peaceful, certainly much more so than in most lands. It was only in the 1790s that Irish nationalism emerged as such. Indeed this was about the time that nationalism as we know it was invented full stop. In the 1790s for the first time a body – the United Irishmen – claimed that the common name of Irishman was to replace Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter. Many Roman Catholics did not regard Anglicans and those of the Nonconformist churches as being Irish. Indeed, evidence submitted to the Irish Parliament at this time said that the Irish-speaking peasantry had but one word to describe the English and the Protestants in Ireland ”Sassenach”. This speaks volumes. It explains why the misdeeds of Protestants in Ireland are bogusly blamed on England in particular and more widely on Great Britain. Even then Irish nationalism was a minor sport for some time.

 In 1798 it was mainly people in the East who got involved. Yes, there was the landing in Mayo and a revolt in Skibereen. The three religious denominations formed semi-separate communities, Anglican, Dissenters and Roman Catholics.

It is held as axiomatic by many on the liberal left around the world that Irish history has been a  tragedy. Jesse Jackson said so again on his recent trip to Ireland. Edward Kennedy used to say it. Our tragedies are mostly anglophobia and sectarianism. These are to a large extent the doing of republicans and to some extent of loyalist terrorists too. Overall, though, we Irishmen do not have a tragic history. Compared to many countries our history has been very happy. Much of the grief in our history has been caused by Irish republicans. At very least, most of us being southern, we missed out on the horrors of the Second World War. Look at these nations – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, the Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Israel, Palestine, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Burma, Bangladesh, China, North Korea, South Korea,  Australia’s Aboriginals, Brazil, Belarus, Algeria, Chad, Nigeria, South Africa, Kazakstan, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Cyprus, Mexico, Austria, Libya, Greece, Turkey – I could go on. All of these lands have had misery – either dictatorships or huge wars, mass disease or famine; often civil wars and genocide – suffering far worse than in Ireland.

 The Irish nationalists of today wish to submerge out nationality in the European Union. What an irony! Yet still be semi-hostile to our neighbour Great Britain. The United Kingdom is our partner in the EU for goodness’ sake. Why be so desperate to be separate from our brothers in Great Britain yet so keen to unite with the people of Latvia and Bulgaria. What are all the striking similarities we have with them?

 People often claim that Ireland did not connect with Great Britain willingly. This is not so. We agreed at the Synod of Cashel and the Treaty of Windsor. The Pope told Henry II to bring Roman Catholicism to Ireland. Can a Roman Catholic in conscience oppose the connection then? Irish chiefs time and again acknowledged the English King as the Lord of Ireland. The Tudor policy of surrender and re-grant reinforced this. Some force was used. Ireland was created by war. Which land has not been? The pre-1171 Irish kingdoms were created by war too. People pretend that prior to Strongbow coming to Ireland always was sweetness and light. It is a myth to think of a golden age back then. There was continuous warfare between the several kingdoms. Ireland was hardly united then. It only became properly united under the Stuarts.

The shiring of Ireland was completed about 1610 that gave us our counties which are so important to our identity. Moreover, they are used for Gaelic games. Do not say that at Croke Park though. Do not tell the GAA our borders are an invention of the Crown! Let us think of all the Irishmen who have risen to high positions in Great Britain. Winston Churchill was of Irish descent. Think of the Irish Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom. The Marquis of Landsdowne was an Irishman as was George Canning and the Duke of Wellington. Andrew Bonar Law was an Irishman too. Tony Blair is half Irish and John Major is a quarter Irish. The British royal family is descended from Brian Boru. Princess Sophie is half Irish. Some of the most distinguished British soldiers of all have been Irish. Lord Alanbrooke, Lord Gort, Richard O’Connor, Sir John French (Viscount Ypres), Sir Henry Wilson, the Earl of Cavan, Montgomery of Alamein and Lord Kitchener of Khartoum were all men that Ireland can claim. Yes, Lord Kitchener surely is the most illustrious Kerryman. C S Lewis and Oscar Wilde were lionised in Great Britain as was G B Shaw despite his Anglophobia. Great Britain was even extraordinarily forgiving to Brendan Behan despite his having been an IRA man. Little such magnanimity is extended to militants in the loyalist cause. Irish actors and musicians have been very popular in Great Britain from Richard Harris to Sinead O’Connor – they were proponents of IRA terrorism yet the people of Great Britain forgave them. Honourably anti-IRA was a most talented band: U2.

Until the 1970s it was commonplace for Irishmen – including Catholics and nationalists – to volunteer for the British Armed Forces. This included men from the Republic of Ireland. They could have enlisted in the Irish Defence Forces yet many opted to serve under the Union Flag. The British military can hardly be said to be foreign to Ireland. Over the centuries hundreds of thousands of Irishmen have joined the British military. Many have won awards for gallantry and risen to the highest ranks. The institution in Ireland that best eliminated sectarianism was surely the Crown Forces – the Royal Irish Constabulary, the British Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. In these honourable bodies Irishmen of all denominations served happily with very little sectarian animus indeed.

I have read ‘Angela’s Ashes’ by Frank McCourt. In it he recalls returning from the United States to Eire in the 1930s. His father has been in the IRA in the 1919-21 conflict. The father is always asking for a government grant on the basis of this. He is bitterly disappointed with the independent Irish State that he helped to create. Is this what men fought and died for? That is what he asks acrimoniously. One government official tells him the plain truth, ‘We were better off under the English.’ I know this is a work of literature and is not wholly reliable. It is notable that in Limerick McCourt’s Catholic family are deeply suspicious of McCourt’s father. McCourt’s father is from Northern Ireland and is a Catholic The Limerick Roman Catholics surmise that ‘there are Presbyterians in your father’s family.’ His grandmother says that the child has ‘stick up North of Ireland hair.’

My great-grandmother also lived in Limerick City. She too was of the Catholic faith. She used to say, ‘John Bull why did you ever leave us?’

.I remember reading a tome penned by Joseph O’Connor. It was perhaps his work on the world of the Irish male. He recalled that an inescapable feature of the Dublin pub scene was to meet a chap who says, ‘we should beg the English to take us back.’ I do not advocate that exactly, I would not put it in such terms. I am a unionist. One of the reasons that a unionist political party does not exist in the Republic of Ireland is that unionism needs to be two-sided. The United Kingdom must be prepared to readmit us to the Union.

In the mid 1990s the IRA was bombing London. What was the hottest show in town? Riverdance. Arlene Foster is a DUP politician who spoke of Gaelic nationalism being invented in the 19th century. ‘Gaelic’, I thought about that word. Yes, she is right. The nationalist movement cherished Gaelic heritage and denied and/or denigrated all other contributions to Ireland by other peoples. The Gaelic nationalist vision of Ireland is narrow-minded, intolerant and wilfully blind. It is singular. Yes, the Gaels played their part and made a positive contribution to shaping Ireland. Let Erin remember those who came before and after the Gaels. Patrick Pearse spoke of Ireland not merely free but Gaelic as well, not merely Gaelic but free as well. Thereby he underlined his own restricted vision of Irelad, well he had only one good eye! He called Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa ‘a Gael’. Let us call ourselves Irishmen and embrace all that that is. I am Irish. We are Irish have the blood of the Danes, the Vikings, the Gauls, the Milesians Spanish, the Anglo-Normans, the Welsh, the Scots, the Huguenot French in us. Now we welcome too Poles, Chinamen and Nigerians into our midst. Let us recognise this and celebrate it. Dublin emphasises its Viking heritage. The Vikings came to loot but then did some good. The Welsh and English did not come to loot and they did much good. Let us celebrate our heritage from Great Britain and Great Britain celebrates its Irish heritage. The people of the eastern isle are our kith and kin. We Irishmen are all Britishers. I am Irish and I am British. There is absolutely no contradiction whatsoever in that. I am British precisely because I am Irish. The British Isles forever! Long live British Ireland! God save the Queen!

The wind that shakes the barley – a critique


I have just seen this film.

I watched the commentary by Ken Loach and O’Driscoll. Loach starts lying from the very beginning. He says that the playing of Gaelic games was banned at the time. That is patently false. Look at the Croke Park Incident of November 1920. That took place when a Gaelic football game was being played. At the Croke Park Incident about 14 people were killed by the Crown Forces and dozens of firearms were recovered from the crowd. The Crown Forces claimed that IRA men in the crowd opened fire on them. This came hours after Michael Collins’ ”Squad” had killed a dozen secret agents. As they were SECRET agents ordinary members of the Crown Forces presumed that these men were shot just for being English, Welsh and Scots rather than for any counter-insurgent role.

The GAA was banned. As Loach even admitted the GAA was often a front for the I.R.A. The GAA’s own website says that it was taken over by the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1887. The GAA had a very nationalist agenda. There were some people in the GAA who were apolitical and were in the GAA just because they liked sport.

The film is sheer propaganda. Ken Loach more or less acknowledge this in a press conference when the film first came out. He said that the picture was an allegory about the Coalition’s liberation of Iraq.

Ken Loach is a political extremist. He is a member of the Respect Party. He supports just about every enemy the UK has had since 1945. He is a friend of the poor who is very rich himself. He is the worst sort of champagne socialist, a limousine Leninist. Was he not a class traitor by wearing a dinner jacket at Cannes? That is the uniform of the bourgeois oppressors. He likes to pander to the lowest anti-British prejudices. He is a man of the far left.

The film is an absolute diatribe. Every Irish nationalist character is shown to be a good and pleasant person. Their qualities are bravery, honesty, kindness, decency, friendliness and a reluctance to fight much less kill. The mainland British characters and the Irish loyalists are shown as being cruel, cowardly, racist, vicious, nasty, spiteful, rude and arrogant. The IRA men and their female helpers in the Cumann na mBann are even good looking whereas the British soldiers, the RIC and the Auxiliaries are seldom good looking.

Having said all this it is a good film. It is good in the sense of cinematography. It is gripping. The script is credible and the acting is convincing. The film is well shot and visually appealing. The film is fast paced. The music is pleasing. Many sequences are tender and charming. There is positive emotion – all on the IRA side. This is typical hate speech propaganda, to canonise one’s own fighters and de-humanise the enemy. To make the enemy appear so evil that killing him is a good thing to do. That is why it is so dangerous. Loach is the Leni Riefenstahl of terrorism. There has been a recrudescence of republican terrorism in Ireland and Ken Loach bears some responsibility for this. His valentine to extreme nationalist violence will no doubt have inspired the Real IRA’s new recruits.

This film is a travesty of the truth. The message is this – IRA utterly good, Crown Forces, utterly evil.

This is dishonest in the extreme.

In Cork the IRA killed about 2/3rds of its victims unarmed. This is recorded in the IRA and its enemies –  community and violence in Cork 1916-23. by Peter Hart. This is not the impression that one would get from the film.

Some Irish people want to stay out of the conflict and are drawn in only because they feel that they have to defend their people from barbarous foreign aggression. There is wide public support for the IRA. Again this is false.

There was some public support. In some counties maybe even majority support. As in most conflicts the majority of people wanted to stay out of the conflict.

The IRA had a sectarian streak in it. Tom Barry even admits this in his ”Guerrilla Days in Ireland”. This is not to say that the IRA was sectarian in toto but that it was there, that was a factor. It is true that there was sectarianism among Ulster loyalists too although this is of tangential relevance to the film.

Why were people drawn to the IRA? There were a welter of factors. Political conviction is one of these. Some of them were partly motivated by high-minded motives but this does not make what they did right. The same noble motives could be part of the motivation of the Crown Forces too. Let us look at the less commendable motives for being in the IRA. Ultra-nationalism, sectarianism, Anglophobia, greed, a penchant for violence and chauvinism. These factors can be amongst those who join regular armies.

I say greed as the IRA often stole from their victims – money, goods and cattle. Those who were terrorised out of their homes had their land seized by the IRA.

Ken Loach always speaks of ”the British”. This is to imply that this was a fight between countries. In fact it was an intra-Irish conflict as much as anything else.

The film shows the Crown Forces in a very negative light. They are brutal. This is contrasted with the humanity of the IRA. These accusations are politically motivated and much exaggerated. These accusations are partly true. There are many cases of reprisals when buildings that were used in attacks were destroyed by the Crown Forces. Many buildings in the centre of Cork were burnt in November 1920. This is indisputable. The British Government admitted this in 1938 and paid compensation. Suspects were sometimes assaulted. The Black and Tans court martialed many of their men. Dozens were dismissed and some imprisoned. One was hanged for murder.

Up to 100 000 men served the Crown Forces in the 1919-21 period. Not all at the same time. It is inconceivable that there were no bad eggs among them. That is why courts-martial exist. However, their wrongdoing is greatly played up whereas the atrocities of the IRA are overlooked. This can only be due to prejudice against the English, Welsh and Scots. As for misdeeds by the Crown Forces, who started it? If the Black and Tans came to Ireland, who caused them to be sent? There were no Black and Tans till the IRA decimated the Royal Irish Constabulary. The RIC had had widespread public respect and affection until 1919. One must think very, very carefully before starting an armed conflict. One needs an extremely strong justification indeed. One does not know what horrors on may bring. There was no such justification for the IRA, an illegitimate body, to plunge Ireland into tumult and rancour. This is a curse than almost a century later has still not disappeared.

O’Driscoll the historian says that IRA was fighting with a democratic mandate at its back due to the 1918 election. He says that Sinn Fein won the election in 1918. This again is not accurate. Sinn Fein polled 47% of the vote. They won 73 out of 106 seats. They would have polled more votes but 25 seats were uncontested. They were won uncontested by Sinn Fein partly because of strong support for Sinn Fein in those southernmost counties. However, there was also large-scale intimidation, impersonation and bogus voting by Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein had a strong taste for violence. It was militaristic and intolerant. It was isolationist and xenophobic ”ourselves alone” – the clue is in the name.

The British Army are shown torturing prisoners. There are accounts of this by IRA men. I do not know of these being backed by any independent witnesses. I do not totally discount these allegations. Loach’s approach is to take everything the IRA said at face value. This is wilfully naive. It is infantile to think that one side always tells the truth and that the other always lies. I am not such a simpleton to think this of the unionist side versus the republican side.

O’Driscoll says that the British state was a Protestant sectarian one. At the time in Ireland that was untrue. The Church of England is still the established church in England. Ireland, on the other hand, had not had an established church since 1868. There was little sectarianism in Ireland until 1919. The IRA’s brutal campaign provoked an outbreak of the most horrendous anti-Catholic sectarianism in the North. The Ulster Protestant Association was a secret terrorist organisation founded in the North at the time. They carried out many appalling crimes – the murders of hundreds of unarmed and totally innocent Catholics. It is important to note that sectarianism is a two-way street.

The Crown Forces were mixed –  a mixture of Irishmen, Englishmen, Scots and Welshmen. They were a mixture of Roman Catholics and Protestants. The IRA was a totally Irish organisation and was Roman Catholic almost without exception. The Crown Forces embodied inter-ethnic fraternity and religious tolerance – British unity. The IRA tried to destroy this and sow hatred. The IRA really are like the BNP only with bombs.

One of the scintillating subplots of the film is the socialist issue. The film examines to what extent the IRA were political radicals beyond being mere separatists. I have read a lot about this and the evidence is very mixed. There is no conclusive answer. Socialism was secondary to separatism even for leftist members of the IRA.

The IRA in this film are showing being so humane. When they catch a couple of informers they debate long and hard about whether to put these men to death. With great difficulty they reach the decision that these men need to be killed. They even kill them with compassion. It is hard to believe that the IRA ”interviews” of suspected informers were such friendly chats. Dan Breen notes in his book ”My fight for Irish freedom” that many people were astonished by the number of spies who were killed by the IRA. If the Crown had that many spies it is a wonder that the IRA survived at all. Many of the spies were just called spies because they were Protestants/ ex-servicemen or anyone whom the IRA had a grudge against. Breen said that all he could vouch for is that in cases under his personal supervision that greatest care was taken to establish the guilt of the informant and that many were let live because there was a shadow of doubt. He implies that such a guarantee cannot apply to cases that were not under his control. The Crown Forces privately complained that little help was forthcoming from loyalists in Southern Ireland who were presumably too terror-stricken to help. When loyalist fled in fear after Partition they were allowed to seek aid from funds set up for their relief in Great Britain. Only about 2% even claimed to have assisted the Crown Forces. Some of these claims may have been false. It was surely in one’s interests to claim to have lent a hand to the Crown Forces as this would strengthen one’s case for material assistance. Therefore it can only be concluded that the number of spies were minimal. Michael Collins had been ruthlessly effective in killing spies early on.

Loach has made a morality play. Great Britain and Irish loyalists are the devils and the IRA is the angel.

Why does Loach care for Irish independence? As a Communist doesn’t he believe as Benedict Anderson wrote, that nations are ”imagined communities”? It is a false-consciousness to believe in a nationality. By being part of the British Empire one is part of a megastate. The fewer states in the world the better. Then eventually one can unite the handful of megastates and form a One World Government and mankind will at last be united with no war. That is a good socialist vision of the future. Irishmen are allowed national pride, according to Loach –  the English are not and the Scots and the Welsh are not allowed much of it.

Nationality is a distraction from the class struggle. Does nationalism not lead inexorably to fascism? That is the socialist viewpoint. Why not depict the IRA as fascist fiends? A few did end up as genuine fascists as a few turned out to be Commies.

Ken Loach calls the Ulster Volunteer Force  of 1912 ”terrorists”. I dislike the UVF of that time but I hate the UVF that was founded in 1966. Anyhow, the UVF in that 1912-22 era was legal. The law forbidding the importation of arms into Ireland was held up by a legal appeal. The arms brought in on the Clyde Valley were legal. Magistrates gave the UVF permission to drill. I admit that the UVF did tie up many RIC officers and cut telephone wires when they brought in their guns.

So Irish nationalists may rebel but the UVF may not – that is the Loach view. I am against both. The UVF at that time never killed anyone. Many members of the UVF then joined the Army in the Great War. They did not kill the enemy as UVF men as such but were in the 36th (Ulster) Division.

The UVF of the 1966 foundation have no connection with the earlier UVF but for the misappropriated name. The modern UVF are terrorists even more despicable and inhumane than the IRA.

One thing I noted in the film was an IRA volunteer saying ”If they bring their savagery here we will answer with savagery of our own.” So they admit they are savage! That said, I do not consider shooting someone a savage way to kill but there were other things the IRA did that were savage in themselves, the wilful targeting of civilians. I must note that the UPA did far more of killing civilians though. Let no one imagine that I have the slightest sympathy for monstrously evil bodies such as the UPA.

The Deceivers (film.)


I first saw this picture in the mid 90s. Mr Smith-Wilson at school had told us about it. My word, the film spooked me. I am sitting in a room on my own and always worried a thugee will creep up behind me and throw a white scarf around my neck to garrote me.

The film is set in India in 1825. The locale is not defined more precisely. I think that the names of the towns are fictional. The film stars Pierce Brosnan. His character is called William Savage. Wm Savage is a district commissioner in the service of the Honourable East India Company. The film is loosely based on the life of William Sleeman. Sleeman invented many modern detective techniques. He found out about the Thugee and realised that they were based on family ties. He was able to track down and catch thousands of Thugee. They are a Hindu sect that worship the six armed goddess Kali. Kali is literally ‘black’ in Hindi and she is the goddess of destruction. Let me state that this article does not denigrate the Hindu faith. There are many good aspects of Hinduism such as its celebration of nature and sexuality. Hinduism is more open-minded and a broader church than the Mosaic religions. The Thugee were a schismatic sect from mainstream Hinduism. I have met and liked hundreds of Hindus. The film has a Thugee called Hussein and days they greet each other as Ali. It says that Muslims and Hindus alike worship Kali. I believe this is erroneous. No Muslim worships Kali. Monotheism is a cardinal principle of the Muslim faith.

The Thugee viewed it as an act of worship to murder and rob their victims. Hinduism does not go in for Abrahamic dualism. There is not stark distinction between good and evil, life and death. All is a circle. Good and evil, life and death blur into each other.

Savage tries to halt an act of Suttee. That is to say the ritual self-immolation of a widow. Hindu society had no place for a widow. The British Raj only forbade this barbaric custom in the 1830s. This young widow’s husband went on a trip and she presumed him dead. In a dream she thrice saw him dead. She takes this as a portent that she must end her life. Suttee was seen as the most sacred self-abnegation. Savage dresses as her husband and reveals himself from between the trees near the funeral pyre. She thinks that she has seen her husband. She calls out. Savage runs off. He happens upon Thugee in acts of murder.

Anyway to cut a long story short he has to join the Thugee to find out about them. He participates in their murders. He informs the authorities of the British East India Company what has been going on. A full-scale investigation is launched. A new commission is created to hunt down and exterminate the Thugee pest.

This is a film made by the renowned Indo-British film company Merchant Ivory.

I was thinking, would some say that this film is slanted in favour of the British Raj?

It focuses on Britons in India and the good things that they did. Savage is the hero of the piece. However, he does wrong. His goodness is severely compromised if not altogether expunged by  his participation in the murders. He is guilty of murder too. However, he only did this as if he had not he would have been destroyed on the spot.

There is a corrupt British officer who has a very good idea who the Thugs are but turns a blind eye in return for a cut from their takings.

There are dozens of good Indians who help to crush the evil Thugee. Of course the victims of the Thugee are with but one exception Indians. Admittedly the good Indians have only walk on parts.

The negative side of the Company Raj is shown. The fact that John Company is overtaxing people is stated in the film and Savage protests.

Indians are often offended by the very mention of Suttee. Yes, Suttee was always restricted to certain areas of India and even then was never the fate of the majority of widows. This uncivilised practice was not was commonly observed as is generally believed. Nonetheless more than a few widows met their doom in this fashion. It must have been thousands each year if not tens of thousands. Some were voluntary, others not. Even those who chose to terminate their own existence did so as they had been conditioned to see this as the highest expression of uxorial piety. A society that exalts suicide cannot be a healthy one.

In the last analysis this is not imperialist propaganda.