April 25, 2017

TK Whitaker - It is much too naive to believe that Britain simply imposed Partition on Ireland

Diarmaid Ferriter wrote:
"The oft repeated contention was that partition was a British imposition and could only be undone by Britain; that there was no requirement for the Free State, or later the Republic, to come up with a solution."
The Ulster and Irish question is much more complicated than this. T.K Whitaker wrote in 1968:
"The British are not blameless, as far as the origins of Partition are concerned, but neither are they wholly to blame... It is much too naive to believe that Britain simply imposed it on Ireland."
Diarmaid Ferriter wrote:
"That did not mean that British politicians of that era thought of Irish partition as a permanent or ideal solution– many regarded it as a retrograde step – but it had the advantage, as they saw it, of getting the Ulster question out of the way so that the focus could shift to dealing with Irish republicans and ending the war of independence."
Diarmaid Ferriter continued:
"Occasionally there were challenges to the failure to confront partition meaningfully or honestly.   
Ernest Blythe, minister for finance in the 1920s, insisted in the 1950s that strident anti-partition rhetoric had been completely counterproductive, while barrister and future judge Donal Barrington asserted that contrary to nationalist narratives, “Partition was forced on the British government by the conflicting demands of the two parties of Irishmen”."
Edward 'Ned' Carson, the son of Edward Carson, wrote in 1949:
"The six counties fought and… the six counties won against the seemingly impossible odds of an all-powerful Liberal Administration under Asquith at Westminster."
The Guardian wrote in December 1937:
"No British Government is likely, even to please him, to deny the principle of a united Ireland, which was solemnly laid down by the British Parliament in the Home Rule Act of 1914 and in the Government of Ireland Act of 1920. Equally, no British Government will recognise that a united Ireland can be achieved in any other way than by the free consent of the two sections of Ireland. The Government's declaration cannot be held to prejudice either the hopes of the Free State for ultimate unity or the hopes of Lord Craigavon for perpetual separatism."
Stephen Collins wrote that over the last 100 years Irish nationalists from John Redmond to Gerry Adams and Michael Martin have failed to consider the complexities of Ulster unionists in the north of Ireland. He said:
"There is no doubt that Brexit has put the future of the UK into the melting pot... However, by moving immediately to campaign for a united Ireland nationalism has repeated the old mistake of underestimating the depth of unionist feeling. The louder the demand for a united Ireland the stronger unionist resistance will become."

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