Eoin Neeson, The Civil War, 1922-23 (1966)

Eoin Neeson, The Civil War, 1922-23 (1966; rep. Poolbeg 1989)

On the Provos: There is an evident major alteration so far as idealism, such as it may be, and the motivation of those conducting campaigns of vioence in the North are concerned. those who believed they could sustain the claim, with whatever improbably legitimacy, that under the banner of the IRA the, as heirs of the Second Dáil, carried on in the North the struggle against English imperialism, have, for much more than a decade, passed into history and have been succeeded by men and women with nos such claim, whose sole authority is that of the bomb, the bullet and terrorism as an end in itself.

Insofar as they proclaim any political creed it does not derive from the War of Independence or from the high motives and ideals that inspired it. Rather they demonstrate a species of theoretic and untested socialism that, not infrequently the hallmark of the modern terrorist who—often unwittingly—can become the manipulated tool of greater and subtler powers [ie., communist]. There is a vast—and unbridgeable—gulf between the men who fought the War of Independence and brought honour and distinction to the name of the Irish Republican Army and who [quoting Sean Moylan] were ‘aassociated in an adventure of high honour’ in ‘the struggle for our nation’s independence’ and the abominable evil-doers who today horrify the world by their dispicable actions—and yet presume to lay claim to and usurp the noble and dignified mantle of that great generation and their vision of a free, peaceful Ireland and a unified and harmonious people. [2-3].

.. a kind of self-perpetuating psychotic multicamerate viviparoous and uncontrollable Frankenstein monster [4]

But note that in an excitable afterword called ‘Events of 1988’, Neeson rolls together the Stalker case with the subsequent Gibraltar Rock killings or ‘execution’ by British security forces outside due process of the law, of three unarmed and unsuspecting IRA alleged ‘terrorists’ in Gibraltar … &c.

On the Unionists: these people, originally of the same ethnic stock—they were descendants of the Irish or Scots who colonised and eponynously gave their name to the new country—and with similar traditions were, nevertheless ‘Planter’ both alien and priveliged in the land, homes and territori3es of those they had dispossessed and persected. Moreover they subscribed to a variant sect. Throughout the succeeding centuries they preserved and developed an artificial sense of identity, redolent of 16th and 17th century Europe, conferred by these sectarian and ‘acquired rights’ differences. They maintained power and privilege (though admittedly at second-hand throughthe great Unionist landowners, professional classes, and industrialists who exploited their unthinking allegiance and commitment as of right) until the 1974 Strike … It is little secret that, leaving aside strategic and economic questions, the social problems of Northern Ireland derive essentially—however ill-founded or however artificailly stimulated they may be—from Ulster Protestant loathing, fear and misunderstanding of Catholicism, and their refusal to associate with their Catholic neighbours on an equal footing. If they did so then they could address the question of their identity in logical and modern terms. [6]

The fact is that sectarianism was deliberately stimulated and employed as a political instrument by the Tories at the time of Gladstone’s Home Rule proposals a hundred years ago—not from any lover of Ulster Protestantism, but as a power-base for Toryism when they have lost their home ground in England. [7]

.. a manipulated smoke-screen … [7]

Because of the manipulated hatred necessary to maintain this alien outlook the extremists became, as the years past, Protestant first and British second—a state of affairs for instance which enabled them to seek guns and assistance from Germany in 1913 … the fact is that these people have no identity except their strange brand of archaic puritan Protestantism … and yet when outside Ireland they are proud to call themselves Irish … Yet the fact is that they are Irish and have been for hundreds of years. [PARA] Until they acknowledge that fact and live by it—or leave—there can be no solution to the problem of the North. … They are Irish whether they like it or not. And they share the island with those who were here first, whether they like it or not. [10]

England has successfully promoted and used sectarianism in Northern Ireland to obscure the real, political, issue, at a terrible cost to the whole Irish community, but especially in the North. [10]

.. futile to ignore the fact that Britain created, and has contributed to, the continuance of the problem … Nor is it unreasonable to look to Britain to take the initiative in justly solving it. [12]

They were determined at all costs, to retain this bastion of Empire in Ireland for which purpose lip-service to the so-called rights of minorities provided a useful camouflage … [20]

On p.60 & 61, Lloyd George is ‘the devil’. [61] In gaining an agreement from Griffith’ not to repudiate his suggestion that the Unionists could opt out of an all-Ireland parliament after twelve months, Neeson regards Lloyd George as a devil who had ‘clearly the immense political foresight and adroitness … [to] plot for an foresee the Civil War … [63]

Collins on his reasons for signing the Treaty: ‘I signed it because I would not be one of those who commit the people to war without the Irish people committing themselves to war. they had the freedom to advance towards independence and a Gaelic state, he said. [Neeson, 75]

Much of the editorial addition to the 1989 printing occurs in the footnotes—ugly ill-printed notes. Here [at 85f.] we are told that ‘the mass of Irish opposition to Sinn Féin—churches, establishment, power-groups, vested interests, the Press, Home Rulers—were enabled to participate actively again in Irish politics without loss to themselves, once Sinn Féin split. Their support for pro-Treaty element resulted in their outnumbering and swamping those who are actually Sinn Féin and Republican, but pro-Treaty.’ [86]

Collins pro-Treaty speech at Cork on 14 June, two days before polling, signalled the end of the Pact. [108] Neeson’s footnote (ftn 7), explains: ‘The pact, remember ..’, and offers more information that formerly, but the speech is no where quoted nor its circumstances described. Is this how history is written?

Death of Brugha: … the first of the giants had fallen … [130]

their father had fought in 1916 with the heroes of Mount St. [135]

[Neeson is at his best describing the military actions.]

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