Paul Foot (changing imperialisms)

James Daly james.irldaly at
Fri Feb 14 05:07:49 MST 2003

Michael writes:

Meanwhile, as Phil Ferguson has posted here before, Ireland is on its

way to

> bourgeois-sponsored reunification, largely because the British state


> not need it any more -- it has bigger fish to fry. It must

accomplish this,

> however, under a cloak of bourgeois legitimacy, hence the tortured

> withdrawal of the British state and indulgence of the declining


I wish! Reality is however totally different from this "virtual

The war aim of the IRA was clearly and unambiguously stated: a
declaration from the British government of intent to withdraw from
Ireland. I always thought the Nationalists should not have disowned
and turned on the republican movement (that was a repetition of the
sentiments of James Connolly). If Charlie Haughey (whose parents had
been driven from South Derry in the North by the Black and Tans) had
been Taoiseach (Southern Prime Minister) at the time of the pogroms of
the Seventies in Belfast (acknowledged by the British government to be
the largest movement of population in Europe since 1945) instead of
his rival Jack Lynch (described by the British Ambassador Sir John
Peck in his memoirs as "the right man at the right time") things would
have developed differently. There was a widespread popular call to
bring in the (then!) United Nations.

When in the Nineties the struggle was obviously going nowhere, I
reluctantly and with great bitterness supported Sinn Fein's alliance
with John Hume, although Hume's clear and unambiguous aim was always
"British justice", and although he repeated ad nauseam that the
problem was not about unification of territory but unification of
people (i.e. in the six counties of "Northern Ireland", and by

The British government at Hume's request declared (probably truthfully
enough) that they had no economic or strategic interest in remaining
in "Northern Ireland" and would not hinder it joining the Republic of
Ireland if the majority of people in Northern Ireland so wished. That
could be interpreted as a declaration of intent to withdraw -- in
"virtual reality".

The problem is that the majority of people in Northern Ireland will
never wish to join the Republic. (Some Nationalists in desperation
pathetically hope for a demographic victory -- a referendum vote in
some distant future by a 51 percent nationalist majority!) The solid
reality is that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland, so beloved of its Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II of
England, I of Scotland and ? of Northern Ireland, whose Union flag
(which we used to refer to as "the butcher's apron") includes the
red-diagonal-cross with flag of St Patrick, is here to stay -- in
non-"virtual" reality.

Could anyone who argues otherwise please provide some evidence?


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