One hundred years on from the betrayal of the north of Ireland by a partitionist cabal, the anti-Irish prejudice of their Fine Gael successors has been encapsulated in an outrageous smear by a former leader.
In a TV documentary broadcast this week, Alan Dukes (pictured, left), who was Fine Gael leader from 1987 to 1990, shockingly claimed that people who live in the border area have violence ‘in their blood’ and ‘turn to violence more quickly than the rest of us’.
The comments came as the anniversary of the foundation of the Irish Free State was greeted with embarrassment and shame by official Ireland.
The creation of the 26 County state and the partition of the six northeastern counties not only betrayed the sovereign rights of the Irish people, it horrifically consigned the North to the nightmare of an Orange statelet which systematically suppressed the civil rights of Catholics.
The 1922 Constitution codified the subordinate status of the Irish Free State as a Dominion inside the British Empire – far from the independent republic that had been proclaimed in 1916.
There were other humiliating constraints on the state, which included the recognition of the English king as its head, represented by a governor-general; the need for all members of the Dublin parliament to declare loyalty to the king; vetoes for the king and Westminster over Dublin’s legislation; and a blanket subordination in areas such as shipping, boundaries, extradition, and military activity.
It was signed into law as Alan Dukes’ predecessors were plunging the Civil War to new depths of brutality. Of the hundreds of anti-Treaty IRA Volunteers lawlessly killed on the orders of the pro-Treaty side, most were prisoners who were summarily shot dead in the last weeks of 1922.
Among them were Erskine Childers (pictured, right), a renowned author and activist, and the ‘Four Martyrs’ - freedom fighters Liam Mellows, Joe McKelvey, Richard ‘Dick’ Barrett and Rory O’Connor, who were singled out because they were some of the most effective leaders of the anti-treaty forces.
It was in the context of the centenary of these events, at the hands of that faction who would become Cumann na nGaedheal and subsequently Fine Gael, that Dukes’s bigoted comments were broadcast.
Speaking about those communities which have endured some of the worst trauma of partition, he said: “They... have a long history of violence of different kinds and they will more easily turn to it than anybody else will.
“I am not saying they are different animals than the rest of us, but whether they have Provo links or B-Special links… it’s something near to the way they think than it would be to somebody in south Tipperary.”
Following a backlash from the public as well as his own TDs, Dukes apologised, but Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy said the remarks were “telling” and “completely unacceptable”.
“It goes some way towards explaining the fact that our communities have been abandoned by successive Fine Gael governments. The border communities are made up of hard-working people who are proud of who they are and where they are from, and they will not stand for such disgraceful demonisation,” he added.