February 03, 2016

Being Protestant and Bloody Sunday, Ctd

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey attacks Reginald Maudling (cartoon by Cummings)
The Guardian reported on events in Dublin on the day of February 2 1972, two days after Bloody Sunday:
"Hatred of Britain in the Republic reached fever pitch as the embassy’s interior blazed fiercely, watched by several thousand. ‘Burn, burn, burn,’ they shouted as chunks of masonry and woodwork fell blazing onto the street. They redoubled their cheering whenever they saw the fire breaking through into new parts of the building."
TIME Magazine reported:
"Not since the executions that followed Dublin’s 1916 Easter Rising have Catholic Irishmen, North and South, been so inflamed against Britain and so determined to see Ireland united in one republic at last."
TIME also reported that the Dublin protesters in Merrion Square held up placards that said: "ADOLF HITLER IS ALIVE AND LIVING IN 10 DOWNING STREET"

Carton by JAK. It captures the Commons debate of February 1 1972, during which Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, MP for Mid-Ulster, accused Home Secretary Maudling of lying to the House and of being a ‘murdering hypocrite’. Bernadette was who was eyewitness to Bloody Sunday, then crossed the floor of the chamber, pulled his hair and struck him in the face. 

Contrast the Catholic response to Bloody Sunday with the Protestant one. Hume expressed the feeling of the nationalist people:
"It's a United ireland or nothing."
Louise Richardson of Waterford said, speaking for her 14 year old self:
"I’d have joined the IRA in a heartbeat."
Eamon Collins, IRA volunteer turned super-grass, said:
"Like almost every other Irish Catholic, I was enraged by Bloody Sunday."
And the Protestant response. Actor Jimmy Nesbitt of Ballymena, who played protestant activist Ivan Cooper in the doc-drama of Bloody Sunday, said:
"I find it really hard to talk about actually."
He also said:
"I don't think they've [the Protestant community] ever been able to cope with that - so you walk away from it in a sense."
The producer Jim Sheridan said:
"The Irish don’t forget and the English don’t want to remember it."
Read a further compare and contrast on my post on EamonnMallie.com here. In Commemoration and Bloody Sunday: Pathways of Memory, Brian Conway wrote:
"Protestant opinion on Bloody Sunday tended to be aligned with that of the British state and no protestant organized commemoration took place, a register of the 'our past/their past' dynamic shaping the sectarian political constellation of Northern Ireland."
Douglas Murray wrote in his book 'Bloody Sunday: Truth, Lies and the Saville Inquiry':
"The protestant and catholic communities lived in different areas and remembered different pasts."
The tribal confirmation bias of Northern Ireland's teachers plays into the protestant blindness on Bloody Sunday. Research by Margaret Eastman Smith ('Reckoning with the Past: Teaching History in Northern Ireland' (2005)) signalled a tilt that Catholics are more willing to teach about the Troubles than protestants. She said:
"Catholics' particular interest in the post-1968 period was underlined when three of the catholic teachers interviewed for this study raised the particular issue of the Bloody Sunday incident in 1972 without it having been previously introduced, citing it as a crime against Catholics that had gone unpunished."
Compare this with a protestant teacher, Margaret said:
"When I raised the question of Bloody Sunday with one protestant former history teacher, he in turn raised the matter of a bombing by the IRA in Belfast City centre not long after Bloody Sunday, where many protestants died, for which Gerry Adams is reputed to have responsibility."
She continued:
"The larger point here is that of the two choices offered for the study of the history of Northern Ireland, one choice resonated with the protestant/unionist narrative, and the other resonated more with the Catholic/nationalist narrative. 
The choice offered to teachers for their GCSE curriculum [allows] teachers from each community to teach only that portion of history which is salient or important to their own group's history."
Jimmy Nesbitt said:
"The reality of life in Northern Ireland is that if you were Protestant you learned British history and if you were Catholic you learned Irish history in school. 
I come from a generation in Northern Ireland where we sort of didn’t want to acknowledge the Troubles in our country. I was almost shamed by it when I read the script, and I couldn’t not do the movie. 
It was a personal odyssey. I felt I was making a film about my country, a country that I love and was trying to make sense of. It made me see for the first time why all these terrible things have happened." 
Ian Paisley said he was “very angry” when he learned of the deaths of 14 unarmed civilians, killed by the 1st Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday in Derry in January 1972. Speaking with Eamonn Mallie he said:
"The inquiry afterwards proved that some of these people had neither weapons, nor were they using weapons. 
Well, I wasn’t embarrassed. I was glad to hear him for the first time as a British leader telling the truth about it. Saying what really did happen."
Though, Paisley said in January 1969:
"The civil rights people don’t believe in civil rights at all, they’re just a bunch of republican rebels, that’s what they are. Let’s be very clear about this, they have no time for law and order, they have no time for this country and they mean to destroy this country, and we mean to see that this country will not be destroyed."
Peter Hitchens wrote:
"Any sentient person must acknowledge that Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland were severely discriminated against during the rule of Stormont. In housing, employment, policing, justice and voting, the Roman Catholics were a deprived and unfairly treated minority."
He also noted that, paradoxically, discrimination was the result not of a British desire to hold on to Northern Ireland, but because of an unstated hope in London that Northern Ireland would one day somehow become part of an all-Ireland Republic.

Lyra McKee said:
"The Protestant community will not be allowed to forget what happened. They continue, in the eyes of the world, to be “those bigots” who said no to civil rights in 1969."
Martin Ennals, British human rights campaigner, said in 1964:
"Our ignorance about Northern Ireland is astonishing. Some of us have been there and experienced this atmosphere of distrust, discrimination, plotting and hate. The silence in England about conditions in ‘Ulster’ almost amounts to criminal negligence."
In the mid 1960s Paul Rose declared that MPs from Northern Ireland flatly refused to acknowledge that there was any cause for concern or anxiety at all about civil rights and discrimination in Northern Ireland. But the convention of non-interference, as explained by Peter Hitchens above, was killed when Gerry Fitt was seen by millions of television viewers with his head streaming with blood

Paul Rose, MP for Manchester Blackley, helped to set up the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster in 1965. The campaign attempted to raise the question of discrimination and civil rights abuses in Northern Ireland. Speaking in a debate on Northern Ireland in the House of commons on 22 April 1969 (just before Bernadette Devlin made her maiden speech) Paul Rose said:
"An almost uncontrollable situation has developed because too little has been done too late… And the fault lies largely with hon. Gentlemen opposite from Northern Ireland, who on that occasion flatly refused to acknowledge that there was any cause for concern or anxiety at all about civil rights and discrimination in Northern Ireland. They were rightly concerned with the potato subsidy. The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) informed the House that 36% of the nation’s pigs come from Northern Ireland. But not a word about discrimination or civil rights. We also faced the convention of non-interference, a convention which in that debate prompted my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr Delargy) to ask you, Mr. Speaker, what, apart from Short Brothers and Harland and Wolff, we could mention in a debate on Northern Ireland. That convention is dead. It was killed when my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr Fitt) was seen by millions of television viewers, his head streaming with blood after a vicious batoning while surrounded by a group of members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary."
David McKittrick explained that in the 1960s most Protestants did not regard the Northern Ireland of the time as having deep-rooted problems. McKittrick wrote in his obituary for Rev Ray Davey:
"In the 1960s most Protestants, and certainly Unionist leaders, did not regard the Northern Ireland of the time as having deep-rooted problems, even though the system was one of one-party rule to the exclusion of Catholics from power. But Davey felt there was inequality and a lack of justice. He and other liberal clergy discussed the idea of an ecumenical focal point outside the university, and discovered that a holiday fellowship centre on the North Antrim coast was up for sale. 
This concentrated minds, he was to recall: "No longer could we indulge in rather abstract discussions on the nature of Christian community. Now we had to face a real choice, and our ideas and visions were put to the test”."
The Sunday Times published ‘John Bull’s Political Slum’, July 3 1966. The hard-hitting article was compiled by Cal McCrystal’s and the ST Insight team of investigative journalists. Chris Caron wrote about it:
"This article was written two years before the troubles began. It represents a turning point in British journalism on Ireland - this was the first time such information reached the British public.”
Michael Herbert noted that the July 3 1966 article was published to coincide with a royal visit to Northern Ireland. The article began:
"When the flags and bunting are hauled down after the Royal visit Mr Wilson’s government will still be confronted with a sharp alternative; whether to use reserve powers to bring elementary social justice to Ulster or simply allow Britain’s most isolated province to work out its own bizarre destiny. During the 45 years since partition the latter has often been negligently adopted with what looks like disastrous results."
The article also read:
"There is a part of Britain where the crude apparatus of political and religious oppression - ballot rigging, job and housing discrimination, and an omnipresent threat of violence - comfortably co-exists with intense loyalty to the Crown."
The Observer wrote at the same time:
"The lavatory-wall patriotism of the fiercely protestant Sandy Row, with its viciously offensive anti-Catholic slogans."
And also wrote:
"Bigotry is a casual, unchallenged reflex here: it is difficult to find any institutions, even individuals, it has not tainted. This is a sick, sick country."
Brian Walker wrote:
"“The jackboot heel of the of unionism” is an absurd exaggeration. The RUC had only 4000 officers and the B Specials of the post war, post 1956-62 IRA campaign were barely in existence as a disciplined force. It might have been John Bull’s political slum, but it was a sleepy slum most of the time. And as for the downtrodden? Who am I to deny them, but as a student at the time I had learned the maxim of Tocqueville, the peerless early historian of both the French and American revolutions, that revolutions happen among people on the rise."
Joanne Latimer, a Canadian of Irish extraction, asked: "Was my Irish Protestant heritage a legacy of discrimination? Yes." Joanne is a freelance writer from Montreal, Canada. Her parents left Northern Ireland right after they were married in 1961. Her first trip to her parents’ homeland was in the summer of 1969. She wrote in the Montreal Gazette, ‘The other kind of Irish’:
"So began my complicated relationship with our Irish Protestant heritage. Was it a legacy of discrimination? Yes. Why did admitting that feel like a betrayal? I would not forsake my family and become an armchair rebel from the safe shores of Canada. Anyway, discrimination against the Catholic community was being righted … right? Over time, all those mixed emotions began to swirl around one thing — the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 
It’s not that simple, I think, watching people have fun on March 17. Haven’t you read your Irish history? Some of you are in the wrong parade! Your ancestors are turning in their graves! 
But, as The Troubles peter out, it is counterproductive to recall the two solitudes of Northern Ireland. Ulster, that flawed province of the north of Ireland, is healing. This first-generation (Northern) Irish Canadian shouldn’t be picking the scab over here, fretting over tribal loyalties and throwing a wet blanket over what is now a non-sectarian, pan-Irish event. It’s time to unclench and accept a pint of green beer."

Ed Moloney gave a more comprehensive overview of the nationalist-Catholic response across the island. He wrote:
"The killing of fourteen unarmed civilians at a civil rights demonstration in Derry by the 1st Parachute Regiment pitched Anglo-Irish relations into their gravest crisis since the creation of the Irish state. 
Those of us who were alive at the time can never forget the huge wave of anger and sympathy for Northern Nationalists that rolled through the South in the ensuing days. Factories and workplaces throughout the country came to a standstill as thousands of people staged impromptu strikes and marched to town centres carrying placards condemning the British. Buses and trains stopped running, Aer Lingus planes were grounded and the government recalled the London ambassador in protest. 
Not since partition had Southern and Northern Nationalism been so united, and not since the Anglo-Irish war of 1919-1921 had there been such anti-British fervor in Ireland, and it all culminated in a massive protest outside the British embassy in Dublin during which the building was burned to the ground. A gelignite bomb blew down the embassy’s solid Georgian door and soon petrol bombs rained through the opening. A crowd estimated at 20,000 cheered as the flames consumed the building and stopped fire engines getting near the inferno. 
But those expecting all this to be reflected in a more aggressive stand towards the British on the North by the government in Dublin, then led by Fianna Fail chief Jack Lynch, were to be disappointed."
He continued:
"In the days and weeks following Bloody Sunday the southern political mainstream mobilised against the IRA, making it clear that the Provisionals were now considered a threat to the southern as well as the northern state."
The Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday found:

"What happened on Bloody Sunday strengthened the Provisional IRA and increased nationalist resentment and hostility towards the army."

Calwell, the biographer of Sir Henry Wilson wrote:
"[The Black and Tans were] the greatest blot on the record of the coalition and perhaps on Britain’s name in the twentieth century."
John Bright, sitting on the Jamaica Committee, said:
"There is no murder more foul than that which is done by men of authority under pretence of law."
Eamonn McCann said in his interview with Eamonn Mallie:
"It’s not a nationalist thing. It absolutely is not a nationalist thing looking for the truth about Bloody Sunday."
Trevor Lunn MLA for Alliance said to the Stormont Assembly, November 9 2015:
"I am sure that I am the only one wearing a poppy who is making this plea, but there is a reason for that: I want to be proud of our army. I wear this poppy with pride, and I wear it to commemorate and acknowledge the sacrifice that the army has made over the years in theatres of war. This was not a theatre of war. If the army has misbehaved in these circumstances, it needs to be able to acknowledge it. It happened on Bloody Sunday, which, Mr Sheehan rightly said, need never have happened, had this been properly investigated. I want to continue to regard the army with pride, and it needs to cooperate if such an inquiry can be put together. The British Government, if needs be — I think they do — need to be able to man up and acknowledge that something went dreadfully wrong on this occasion."
This echoes Enoch Powell, who in 1959 made a speech in the Commons imploring for the truth to be told about the torture and murder by British forces of 11 suspected “terrorists” detained without trial in Kenya. He said:
"It has been said – and it is a fact – that these 11 men were the lowest of the low … But that cannot be relevant to the acceptance of responsibility for their deaths … In general, I would say that it is a fearful doctrine, which must recoil upon the heads of those who pronounce it, to stand in judgment on a fellow human being and to say, ‘Because he was such-and-such, therefore the consequences which would otherwise flow from his death shall not flow’."

Read my previous post on this sensitive issue, 'Being Protestant and Bloody Sunday', here.

And below are photos from the protest outside the British Embassy in Dublin which followed Bloody Sunday.

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