August 19, 2013

Northern Ireland's Abject Ignorance of History

In the overview of Owen Dudley Edwards book, 'The Sins of Our Fathers,' the book was presented like this:
"Many people are fond of saying that the Irish, particularly in Northern Ireland, live too much in the past and are over-influenced by it. In this corrosive analysis on the origins and character of the present crisis in Northern Ireland, Owen Dudley Edwards suggests that part of the trouble stems from too much indifference to the past and too little effort to understand it." 
In the book Owen Dudley Edward's presented his response to the question, if there was much unionist sentiment outside ulster before 1920 and the passing of the Government of Ireland Act 1920? ODE wrote:
"Certainly. The overwhelming strength of upper-class Protestantism, together with socially-aspirant Catholicism were stout supporters of the Union. Trinity College in Dublin was its intellectual bastion - much more so tan the non-sectarian QUB. It had a powerful Dublin newspaper in the Irish Times as well as other journals elsewhere. But Dublin unionism provided much of the thrust of the entire movement until the Ulster crisis of 1912-1914. Even Edward Carson, their leader, was a Dubliner."

Asked how Irish Unionists accepted the present arrangement, ODE said:
"That's a very difficult question. Some of them of course never did. Carson, for instance, was using Ulster as a tactic throughout, not in the sense that in 1886 British Conservatives such as Randolph Churchill did, or indeed in 1912 many of Carson's own British Tory allies were doing, that is to say, as an effective weapon against the liberals. Carson's use of Ulster was a lawyer's deployment of his best argument, but his aim to the very end was the preservation of the Union - which to him was a sacred ideal - even if this did involve acquiescing in the formation of separate Home Rule government of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland in the Government of Ireland Act 1920. But Sinn Fein, by then representing the vast majority of the 26 countries, refused to accept the 1920 Act and a new settlement had to be carved out in the Treaty of 1921, granting a much greater degree of independence plus certain safeguards which later 26-county governments whittled away."   
He also said:
"You must remember that local pride is very strong in Ireland, and much older than national doctrines such as nationalism or unionism."
He said further of Edward Carson:
"Carson was strongly anti-sectarianism; he forgot for a university in Ireland for Catholics, and some of his best legal fights, going far beyond what a lawyer would normally do, were for Catholics. He was bitterly hostile to the interference of Catholic priests in politics and this undoubtedly had much to do with the vehemence of his hatred for Home Rule. But the chief reason may have been a rather curious one. He was genuinely horrified by the way Parnell was hounded down, and this supplied a cause of his fear of Home Rule Ireland."
A similar argument was made in a letter sent to the Belfast Telegraph by Robin McMullen:

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