Seán Hutton & Paul Stewart, eds., Ireland’s Histories: Aspects of State, Society, and Ideology (Routledge 1991).


2: David Johnson & Liam Kennedy, Nationalist historiography and the decline of the Irish economy: George O’Brien revisited
[for material on George O’Brien from this article, see RICORSO Library\Author & RICORSO Author A-Z.]

That there was striking economic progress under Grattan’s Parliament was virtually an article of faith among nationalist writers … This belief hasd strong political resonance since it dovetailed neatly with contemporary economic arguments for Home Rule. … The solution to Irish problems seemed straightforward. Once the British were banished, the millenium would dawn. [14]

3: Dr O’Connor Lysaght, ‘A Saorstat [is] born’.
~This essay is centrally concerned with failure of the Connolly and Larkin wings of the Irish labour movement to take over the leadership of the independence movement. In the election of 1918, the labour part acceded to the Sinn Féin programme and put forward no candidates. Thereafter it never figured as a moving force in Irish national politics.

Post-famine: ‘The Famine created the conditions for a continuous movement for a revolutionary split between Britain and Ireland. The Irish plebians learned from the failure of the pre-Famine movement for constitutional parliamentary separation … tenant farmers could and would unite against landlords and the colonial government which upheld their interests … revolutionary nationalism, the programme of an Irish republic, was maintained in the cities both in Ireland and among Irish emigrants to the USA … The More prosperous of the Irish national bourgeoisie, those who owned their portion of real estate, saw their future as centred on the control of the colonial administration. Those with less security sought full legislative independence to rebuild their country’s ravaged economy. [38]

4: Sean Hutton: ‘Labour in the post-Independence Irish state, an overview’.
~Sean Hutton continues the depressing history of the Labour Party:

During the red scare of 1933 … many rural Labour party branches organised meetings to protest their abhorrence of communism, and in 1934 the party resolved to oppose any attempt to ‘introduce anti-Christian Communisitic doctrines into the Movement.’ [57]

Mary Robinson’s stand on divorce, contraception and gay rights makes her victory a qualified triumph for liberal/secular views in the Republic. The support she drew, on this basis, from economic conservatives (eg. the PDs) and the failure to make a connexion betweeen those demands and the values of socialist democracy, means that her victory has limited relevance for socialism: an issue which both she and her supports sought to side step—not surprisingly in view of the importance of non-Labour, non-Workers’ party votes and transfers in her election. [70]

It remains to be seen whether the institutions of Labour and the left can make more of this opportunity in the future than they have done heretofore. [74]

5: Joseph Lee, ‘The Irish Constitution of 1937
Eamon de Valera, under whose close supervision the Constitution was drafted, was a strong believer in the rule of law, and in protecting the rights of the citizens against the intrusive and arbitrary potential of state power. Indeed, had he sought an autocratic state, the Constitution of 1922, which his new Constitution superseded, allowed him immense scope for arbitrary behaviour. [80]

De Valera accepted an essentially liberal concept of individual rights … He was, in this respect, if not a disciple, of Daniel O’Connell. [81]

De Valera’s own preferred social order blended Aquinas with Jefferson, his ideal being a democracy of small property owners, with the family as the basic unit of a Christian society which, governed by the precepts of natural law, derived its legitimacy from allegiance to ‘the Most Holy Trinity … &c., as the preamble portentiously puts it. [81]

One irony of the abolition of Art 44.1.2 in a referendum of 1972, intended as an obeisance to the presumed sensitivities of Ulster Unionists, is taht 44.1.3 was also removed, thus eliminating recognition not only of the special position of the Catholic Church, but of any position of any church.

~Lee interrogates the concept of ‘nation’ in the preamble and other parts of the Constitution: One searches in vain in the three articles, 1-3, which are included in the section ‘The nation’ for any definition of ‘nation’. “The Irish national hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right to choose its own form of government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic, and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.” [Art 1.] Lee points out that, in the Irish—and legally prior—version, however, the grammar shows a tendency to read náisiún as plural, since it proclaims their not its rights. “Deimhníonn náisúin na hEireann leis seo a gceart doshannta, dochloite, ceannasach chun cibé cineál Rialtais is rogha leo féin bhunú, chun a gcaidreamh le násiúin eile a chinneadh, agaus chun a saol polaitiochta is geilleagair is saíochta a chur ar aghaidh de réir dhuchais is gnás a sinsear.” [Do.] Lee further asks: But what do the phrases inalienable and indefeasible mean … do they mean that the Irish people cannot deprive themselves of their sovereign right [Yes—see RX de Valera]. Are the people subject to some antecedent right residing in the nation which preclude the people at any time from alienating their right to choose their own form of government? [88] … Theoretically the Irish language would remain the first national language if no one spoke it at all. [89]

KEY: There are three Ulsters questions, only one of which is addressed in the Constitution. There is first, the Republic’s claim on the whole of the North. And there is, second, Britain’s presence in the whole of the North. And there is, third, and perhaps more fundamentally than either, British insistence on ruling over substantial parts of the territoriy of Northern Ireland in which Unionists appear to be in a minority. Art 2, which remains wholly aspirational, pales into insignificance compared with the reality of British occupation of substantial areas of nationalist territory within ther North—assuming that the majorities in those territories actually do want unification. That is why, in my view, the New Ireland Forum was correct both to acknowledge that a new Constitution would indeed be necessary in the event of a united Ireland, but also implicitly to accept that unilateral abandonment of articles 2 & 3, with no corresponding abandonment of the territorial claims of the other involved parties, would make no contribution to a just and enduring settlement of the Ulster question. [89]

6: Jim Smyth, ‘Industrial development and the unmaking of the Irish working class'
Smyth begins by citing Joseph Lee’s view of modern Ireland which located the ‘causes of Irish retardation … in a a failure to mobilise the intellectual resources of the country properly.’ [94]:

The incapacity of the Irish mind to think through the implications of independence for national development derived largey from, and was itself a symbol of, the dependency syndrome which had wormed its way into the Irish psyche during the long centuries of foreign dominance.” (Lee, Ireland 1912-1985: Politics and Society, OUP 1989, p.612.)

Smyth hones this to a more lethal edge: ‘The Irish bourgeoisie … as a class [has] managed to defuse social conflict—with the help of mass emigration and the power of the Catholic Church—which appropriating a major share of the country’s wealth … did not exploit the limited autonomy which is always open to even the most dependent nations … abandoned nationalism for pseudo-cosmopolitanism and almost total subservient to international capital [95] … It had become abundantly clear [by the mid 1950s] that local capital had failed in its historic mission to create unemployment and sterm emigration, and failed miserably … for the bourgeoisie, foreign capital posed a threat to their comfortable existence and the coherence of nationalist ideology[;] on the other hand, stagnation … posed a potential threat of existential proportions. [100] Attempts to mimic the increasingly comprehensive welfare provisions of Britain—such a the Mother and Child Bill—were not only opposed by the Church (which has a vested interest in the preservation of the old order) but were inconsistent in terms of the absence of a regime of accumulation which would have made such reforms necessary. [102] … On the European context, the Irish middle class has seen fewer challenges to its hegemony—through class conflict, economic change or war—than any other national bourgeoisie. Increasing labour-market dualism may well consolidate the position of the middle classes by increasing polarisation between well-paid administrative, technical and research employment and low-wage sector, economically and socially dependent upon levels of middle-class consumption—a contemporary variant of the landlord-tenant relationship. [111]

Ignorance and narrow-mindedness were functional qualities in post-independence Ireland as the country sank into a bog of self-congratulatory isoloationism—just as a superficial cosmopolitanism is de rigeur in the contemporary scene. [98]

Elsewhere—when not berating the Irish middle-class, that is—Smyth trots out the ‘regulation school’ model, and makes much of the destructive in/out approach of the multinational corporations, with their essentially exploitative relation to unskilled and semi-skilled labour for capital repatriation purposes, which accounts for 34% of Irish industrial employment. Smyth comments: ‘Foreign industry did not act as a locomotive for the development of indigenous industry.’ [105]

7: JW McAuley & PJ McCormack, ‘The protestant working class [PWC] and the state of Northern Ireland since 1930: a problematic relationship.
~These authors take issue with the more doctrinaire Marxist interpretations of the position of the protestant working class as false consciousness induced by the imperialist masters by deluding them into believing that their own economic security consists in excluding the Catholic working class from a share in their advantages. In particular they dispute the view that sees the social and political consciousness of the PWC as uniform and monolithic, and call for a more complex, grass-roots analysis:

These [false] analyses project the Protestant working class consciousness and politics as stable and homogeneous. However an adequate construction of the ideology of Protestant workers involves some attempt to account for their everyday values, everyday beliefs and everyday conceptions of the world. PWC ideology, like many actually experienced class ideologies is fragmentary, internally contradictory and constituted from incomplete forms of thought. It is within this framework that ‘commonsense’ political decisions are made. This thinking is based on a set of common historical reference points, sectarian prejudices and inherited values and ideas. … the politics and ideology of the PWC clearly remain problematic. However it is only by examining the full range of PWC experience and the social construction of its ideology that the politics of the PWC can be fully understood. [126]

8: Donald Graham, ‘Tearing the house down [NIHE]
~Reveals not only the high levels of sectarianism in the allocation of housing but the covering up of disproportionate allocations, and also the failure to penalise Protestant attacks on Catholic homes. Further reveals the input of the Army to the Planning regime, and recounts the history of the Divis flats.

The acceptance by statutary bodies that housing planning is to be conducted within a sectarian geopolitical framework can only blight the future for the current generation and those to come. [142]

9: Margaret Ward, ‘The women’s movement in the north of Ireland, 20 years on
First wave of feminist activity at the beginning of this century … partition led to what James Connolly predicted [as] ‘carnival of reaction’ [150] … northern society rigidly patriarchal … dominated by influence of religions … equal educational opportunity deliberately shelved by the British government until last possible moment of implementation under EC law (1975) [151] … formation of NI Women’s Rights Movement [151] instigated by campaign for extension of Sex Discrimination Act to NI in 1975 [152] … Noreen Winchester receives Royal Prerogative of Mercy, March 1977 [154 … Justice Macdermott [NI] takes step of writing to Newsletter warning that divorce law would destabilise family life … Women’s Action banner forcible taken away by police following request from ICTU officials at May Day celebrations in 1977 [155] … Abortion Campaign following death of young woman resulting from back-street abortion, 1980; NI Abortion Law Reform Association formed 1984; Anne Speed [159] … Inez McCormick [161]

10: BOB PURDIE, ‘Bew, Gibbon and Paterson on the Northern Ireland state.

[Naive Marxist] highly moralistic attitude of ‘solidarity’ in which Republicanism was seem as an expression of the oppressed Catholic minority and the vanguard of a national struggle which would ‘complete’ the unfinished work of 1916 and which was ‘betrayed’ by the Treaty of 1921. [164]

Marxists often seem to miss the significance of intimacy of NI politics and the role played by individuals and individual initiatives. [165] … Bew &c. take much more seriously than earlier revisionists what people in NI have actually said about their beliefs [166]

.. an anaysis of Unionism as a mutli-class bloc … created in specific historical circumstances … and the relationship of the working-class component of this bloc to the bourgeois component [166]

Do these relationships depend on the intervention in NI of the British state … No. [166]

James Connolly and 2nd International Communism [held] simplistic view of Unionism as an artificial entity held together by manipulation and deceit. [167]

In so far as Britain has intervened in Ireland it has been in favour of a united Ireland and, since the attempt to maintain a colonial relationship with the whole island was ended by the Treaty, the primary motive has been to avoid entanglement. 167] While limitations of democracy in both Irish states are related to the activity of Republicans, and thus are a consequence of partition, a single Irish state would not necessarily be more democratic. In fact, any attempt to coerce Northern Ireland Protestants into an all-Ireland state would result in a very much less democratic set-up. [167]

Protestant workers united with the bourgeoisie to resist incorporation into that society, not out of simple bigotry, but to preserve a way of life [ie, standards of living] which they perceived as being under threat. [169]

11: Paul Stewart, ‘Bew, Gibbon and Patterson—the PWC and the NI state.
what the new breed of post-Connolly socialists fail to recognize is the extent to which the conditions for class domination depend upon institutions and structures of subordination which labour itself facilitates [178]

.. it is often assumed that ‘pure’ class politics of economic struggle remain an uncompromised vision … this was certainly something that Connolly, with his commitment to Irish national autonomy, would have found problematic. [178]

At times their [Bew &c] problems stem from an inability to recognize some progressive elements within the minority politics of the marginalised nationalist community [179]

[If the defining modern Marxist concern is with] the relative independence of the realm of superstructures … what for socialist and democratic thinking on Ireland is that the relationship between the economic and political is seem as problematic … Bew et al. were the first to do this in relation to Irish labour [180]

~Stewart criticises Bew et al. for placing the PWC above sectarianism, and for failing to incorporate the nature of Catholic subordination within their analysis of class rule in the Stormont state [181]

Bew et al. want to argue that NI is an ordinary bourgeois state [and hence] argue that a class struggle raged within the Unionist movement … their analysis of the intra-Protestant bloc long overdue [but] there must be problems if Catholic labour fails to apper in the discussion [182]

The idea of normality may obscure a number of features of Ulster Protestant-bourgeois class rule. … Bew et al. underplay the defeat of Irish nationalism and the consequences of this for the nascent socialist discourse. [190] … their commitment to the idea of some haven of normality (Protestant class struggle) in a sea of abnormality (Catholic Irish nationalist struggles) emphasises trade-unionism … politics above all other possibilities [192]

.. the NILP and labourist ideologies [have] always turned a Nelson’s eye to the foundation of Catholic subjugation which was at the centre of the state and civil society … [200]

12: Patrick O’Sullivan, Patrick MacGill: the making of a writer.

13: Anne Rossiter, Bringing the margins into the centre … Irish women’s emigration.
The marginalisation of women in histor[iography] [223]

Of 1,357,831 emigrants 1885-1920, 684,159 female, and most under 24 and single. [225]

Between 1845 and 1914 the age of the average male at marriage rose from about 25 to 32 and the age of the average female from about 25 to 28. … By the turn of the century 88% of females between 20 and 24 were unmarried as were 53% between 24 and 34. [228]

In 1851, the census for Manchester and Salford showed that 13.1 of the population was Irish-born. [231]

Between 1901 and 1921, 510,400 men and women left the 32 counties and from 1926 to 1961, the net figure was 882,149. From 1949 to 1956, when many European countries were experiencing a major economic boom, national income in S. Ireland rose just 8%, and 40,000 people were leaving p.a. … The rate of male and female emigration varied, with women outnumbering men at various stages. [232]

.. clearly the long struggle for an independent Ireland in which women had participated, failed to deliver them from their marginalised position, both economically and legally. [231]

In 1935, the Conditions of Employment Act provided powers to bar or restrict the numbers of women working in a host of industries. … marriage bars were introduced in the civil service, &c. This misogynist attitude received its full expression in Art 41 of the Irish Constitution. [232]

At least 200,000 people left Ireland during the 1980s recession. … A minimum of 150,000 have emigrated illegally to USA since 1981. [233]

In 1972, it was reported that 261 women normally resident in the Republic of Ireland obtained legal abortions in England and Wales during 1970. By 1986 the figure was 5,642, and it is widely believed that the real figure could be 10,00 since most women give fictious British addresses. [236]

Irish women leaders: Anna and Fanny Parnell est. the Ladies Land League in 1881; an Anti-Coercion Association was set up in Southwark, and area of London with a 10% Irish population …

Frances Power Cobbe, Irish feminist and reformer in Victorian London.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Mother Mary Harris Jones, Irish labour leaders in USA [238]

14: Jonathan Moore, ‘Missing the Boat, The [British] Labour Party and the Irish Question.
Days before Bobby Sands death, the Labour spokesman on NI affairs, Don Concannon, visited him in the Maze prison in order to tell the ailing prisoner that he could expect no help from Labour [242] SEE ftn 2: ‘there were loud cheers from all parts of the Commons yesterday as Mr Michael Foot, leader of the LP, placed himself squarely behind Mrs Margaret Thatcher in her firm rejection of the demands of the IRA hunger strikes. The Times, 6 May 1971.

In 1892, Kier Hardie spoke of his support for Home Rule ‘provided the supremacy of the Imperial parliament be maintained unimpaired.’

~Moore summarises and quotes various specimens of Labour involvement—and more often non-involvement—in the issue of social justice in NI, together with its wholesale dismissal of the Border as a political question.

Harold Wilson, 1964: ‘Any politician who wants to become involved in Ulster ought to have his head examined.’ [251]

The fact that the main aim of discrimination against the minority was to nullify their political power, and that any attempt to attack discrimination would therefore be peceived as a threat to the constitutional position of Protestants within the United Kingdom [based on the guarantee in the Ireland Act, 1948] was not understood by anyone in the Labour Party. … Protestants would oppose simple reform [because] reform was intrinsically tied up with the national question. [252]

James Callaghan: ‘Anyone who studies the history of Ireland from the mid-19thc. onwards must conclude - in marked contrast to the present nature of the parties - Irish problems were made much worse by the absence of agreement between the … parties.’ (A House Divided, 1973, p.12) [253]

The problem of Labour’s approach was that they failed to understand … the problems of the reforming role … The problem was that … nearly all the reforms granted were gains for the nationalist community and losses for the Unionists … the inevitable result was a Unionist backlash … crippl[ing] the fragile power-sharing executive in Belfast. [254]

.. There has never been any attempt to apply a specific socialist approach to Ireland. [254] … the roots of Labour Party ideology are labourist and reformist … The question of Ireland has never fitted easily within these two frameworks. [254]

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