Two failed states, one big problem

By Cormac McGinn

It has always been ‘Job 1’ for the British Crown and most other colonial powers, in withdrawing from whatever beautiful place they exploited or destroyed across the globe, to attempt to put in place some favourable local regime in order to counter the effects of the antagonism they generated during their rule.

It has always been ‘Job 1’ for the British Crown and most other colonial powers, in withdrawing from whatever beautiful place they exploited or destroyed across the globe, to attempt to put in place some favourable local regime in order to counter the effects of the antagonism they generated during their rule.

This has the benefit of allowing the exploitation to continue in the absence of a standing colonial Army; and to ensure this weakened land isn’t exploited by a rival power.

It is now Ireland’s misfortune that it contains within its shores two such statelets, and two such regimes, operating only to retain power and to prevent meaningful political change.

Taking them in chronological order, we have the 26-County statelet, founded in the hopeless compromise of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and which continued to be compromised by a succession of weak leaders under the tutelage and guidance of the British Crown.

It is increasingly being recognised this Easter that the brave political and economic ambitions of our patriots and martyrs were hijacked, over successive generations, by a cadre of people with an entirely selfish, apolitical agenda.

Nevertheless, this oddly-shaped statelet has appeared to function in recent decades, until inevitably, the entire financial basis of the state collapsed, and was exposed as a sham.

Those of us in the 26-County state have now fallen under the command of European overlords, who do not like to be called such, of course. With the Proclamation ringing in our ears, we find ourselves collectively subjected to a massive debt which must be paid, before we can again call ourselves free men and free women.

Looking north, to the other side of Ireland’s self-maintained border, we have the Six-County statelet, an entity which is now making claims to self-governance, while exercising its limited powers only under the watchful eye of Mother Empire.

The absurdity of the Stormont Assembly is only surpassed by the impending, and even more futile, Assembly election, where there is only one option on the ballot paper, the continuation of the ‘dispensation’ -- i.e., the never-ending coalition, the status quo and the continuing sound of pointless jabber.

While even the Castro brothers are introducing term limits, a strange cohort of political bedfellows have set their face upon maintaining the ‘permanent process’, an eternal oligarchy on the hill outside Belfast.

So we now have two dysfunctional statelets on one small island, both locked into a partially-decolonised limbo, without any dynamic for change, and even without any genuine political debate.

In the midst of all this, arriving on our shores in the coming weeks, we have no-one less than the head of Britain’s military and class system. She will symbolically flaunt the success of Britain’s post-colonial project, mock our martyrs and wave a royal handkerchief at Ireland’s disempowered people. And we are supposed to clap and cheer.

To understand how we got here on the eve of the anniversary of our own brave, tiny uprising, it is worth remembering that even that heroic bid for freedom was broadly loathed by the Irish public, and continues to be viewed in deeply conflicted terms by the 26-County elite.

And recently, documents have been found to show how famed revolutionary Eamon de Valera turned to the British imperialists, like others before and since, to defeat a republican challenge to his hegemony.

Over 70 years later, at Stormont, a former IRA commander called on republicans to inform to the police.

How can we judge Martin McGuinness’s call at Stormont - in the heart of the British establishment, side-by-side with the chief of the British police, and with a British pay cheque in his pocket?

It is difficult not to cast him in the light of those in Dublin who did the same, and see the threads of Irish history running in parallel, divided by a few decades and a hundred-odd miles.

The argument advanced by Sinn Fein -- that after hundreds of years, an end to armed resistance to British rule must follow from its decision to shift allegiances -- is surely as egotistical as it is short-sighted.

In the focus of the the international media, would Martin McGuinness not have been wiser, and brought an end to the conflict closer, if he had turned to the leader of northern unionism and the chief of the PSNI, and told them a simple, indisputable truth: that the partition of Ireland and the presence of a British police will never be accepted by the vast majority of the Irish people?

Sometimes it is difficult to understand how Ireland works. Contrary to centuries of propoganda, it is inarguable that the Irish are actually a very peacable, even a placid lot.

What other nation would have endured the ravages of British rule for so long, without rising en masse to expel every last vestige of that thuggish, vicious, enslavement?

And, once the British had divided and conquered, what other nation would have tolerated for so long the self-appointed and greedy gombeens who installed themselves as our new ruling class in Dublin?

This week it took a banker from Finland, of all people, to spell out the ‘herd mentality’ and other strange features of the Irish mindset.

It is tempting to conclude that those Irish who did not fit into what Peter Nyberg described as our ‘group think’ have been leaving this island for centuries. They bravely left to pursue their potential in liberated nations across the world, in nations where the sense of fear and servitude had been cast off.

Right now, the brave and independent minds of another generation are heading to the ports, and for the same reasons; and as they do, it is hard not to think that, north of our imposed partition, the same process is underway.

In the past few days, we heard Sinn Fein say ‘confines’ on Irish national self-determination must be accepted; and that those ‘stupid’ ones who dissent from their new order must accept their fate.

This is surely subjugation in another form, perhaps self-imposed; and one which people in the 26 Counties will likely recognise.

Enough. It is time for us all to ring the changes - to the Dail, which has utterly failed to deliver a genuine government, and Stormont, which can never be more than a glorified talking shop.

Like at St Andrews, there is a need to ‘refresh’ the Good Friday Agreement, but with changes to bring a better deal for all of the Irish people.

We need a completely new all-Ireland assembly, where a new, real balance can be struck - between north and south, conservatism and socialism, nationalism and unionism, even between gombeenism and Orangeism - to deliver Ireland’s full potential.

And, of course, we need a non-British police force which can win the allegiance of everyone in the north.

There are more alternatives than the choices we continue to be presented with: between the emigrant ship and the servant’s quarters in the South; between sterile politics and futile conflict in the North.

There are alternatives, but there are very few who will voice them.

We have heard again recently from those determined to lift the sword for Ireland: but who will lift the pen?

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© 2011 Irish Republican News