October 27, 2013

Irish republicanism needs more self analysis of what self-determination looks like

Professor of modern Irish history at UCD Diarmaid Ferriter wrote an article in the Irish Times by the title 'A Mission Statement for Ireland' and explained how after independence there was an almost total absence of vision and strategy for the new Free State beyond the base desire to secure absolute separation from Britain. He said:
"Those who propelled the Irish revolution were more focused on the idea of seperation from Britain."
As opposed to, (quoting fellow historian Charles Townsend):
"Implementing and concrete political programme... The new nationalist leaders did not see it as necessary to analyse the 'self' that was to exercise self-determination."
This exists to this day. And so, as Alan Hynes said, "surely [Irish republicanism] should mean more than ‘Brits Out'?" Indeed. Irish republicans need to create a more realistic vision of Ireland to place beside the unreal "official" version. For too many republicans, and often the most vocal and passionate, Irish independence is driven almost entirely by grievances: anti-British, anti-English, anti-unionist, anti-history, anti-broadmindedness. It needs to be more than a definition of Irishness defined by what you're not. As Seán Ó Faoláin said in Eire and the Commonwealth:
"It is essential for the mental health of Ireland that we should as quickly as possible get to the stage where we do not give a damn about Britain... we shall never expand the contours of life, expand our horizons, get room to breathe mentally.'
Ernest A. Boyd landed a hard critique against what he called Gaelic jingoism. He said:
"Whatever social evils affect the Irish people are understood to be simply by products of an alien regime. The social and industrial problems which engage the minds of modern thinkers weigh little with the Gaelic idealists. Blind optimism and habit for ignoring unpleasant facts."
He asked: "Have Gaels any proposals which will enable Irishmen to live more freely than is possible in other countries?" And that's why we're back to professor Diarmaid Ferriter and Charles Townsend, we need more hard solutions, answers, programmes to what a united Ireland could look like and less idealism of what Ireland should be.

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