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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Letters: Bruton's revisionism bereft of Home Rule comforts

Published 12/08/2014 | 02:30

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Former Taoiseach John Bruton: Home Rule supporter. Photo: Tom Burke
Former Taoiseach John Bruton: Home Rule supporter. Photo: Tom Burke

There has been much exposure given to Mr Bruton's unusual interpretation of the Home Rule episode in Irish History.

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I would suggest Mr Bruton read Alvin Jackson's essay 'British Ireland: What if Home Rule had been enacted in 1912?' It is in Niall Ferguson's book Virtual History.

Jackson points out that the efforts of politicians from Daniel O'Connell to John Redmond to achieve "Irish self-government with loyalty to the British Crown" failed because of the refusal of successive British governments to recognise and accommodate this distinctive tradition.

The Home Rule movement neither successfully wooed nor subjugated its Northern opponents, nor the Protestant attitudes which would have been crucial to the movement.

Without the failure of the Buckingham Palace Conference in July 1914, Home Rule would have been enacted for the whole of the island. Asquith's Amending Bill introduced in 1914 and proposing the temporary exclusion of Ulster, was widely seen as unsatisfactory and was lost. The prospect of a European war was certainly the mechanism by which the unionist leaders and the liberal ministers escaped from the Ulster crisis.

By August 1914, the eve of the Great War, Ulster unionists had gone a considerable way to creating a provisional government for the North, with the uncompromising support of their British conservative allies and, most importantly, the British Army in Ireland (the Curragh Mutiny). The traditional judgment that Ireland was spared a civil war only by the German invasion of Belgium seems hard to fault.

In his book, 'The Fatal Path', Ronan Fanning points out that Robert Blake - who Fanning describes as the doyen of historians of the conservative party - said in August 1914: "The British Constitution and the conventions on which it depends were strained to the uttermost limit; and paradoxically, it was the outbreak of the First World War which, although it imperilled Britain's very existence, alone saved British institutions from disaster."

In the opinion of Jackson, Home Rule "far from inaugurating a new and peaceful era in Anglo-Irish relations, might well have introduced a period of bloodshed and nagging international bitterness".

Finally, in response to Mr Bruton's claim that Bonar Law approved of Home Rule; Law is recorded as saying: "Ireland under Home Rule might well have proved to be not so much Britain's settled democratic partner as her Yugoslavia."

Hugh Duffy, Cleggan, Co Galway

 

Muslims need to break silence

I wonder can we expect demands for a recall of the Dail and Seanad from its two-month summer holiday, so that TDs and Senators can blame Israel and the West for the humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq - which in the past few weeks 
has seen more people killed 
than in the current Middle East conflict?

But, of course, there's no way to blame Jews for what's going on in northern Iraq.

And who would dare make a speech pointing out that the savagery of Muslims in that region and elsewhere has nothing to do with wanting various different political outcomes for the region, but is instead due to flaws within Islam itself, which people are too scared to mention. Far easier to just have a go at Israel.

The reason there are still people like the Islamic State and Boko Harem in the modern world is not because of America or Russia or any other geopolitical reason, it's because the people who lead these groups are never challenged by normal, moderate Muslims - if there is such a thing.

Moderate Muslims and their religious leaders need to explain to the world that the version of Islam we are seeing in places like 
northern Iraq and Nigeria is a distortion.

Or can the silence from the various Muslim councils around the world be taken to indicate that actually, the level of unease within the Muslim world is not what might be reasonably expected?

The onus needs to shift onto Muslims themselves to explain why they have failed to confront the extremists within their community.

Irish people had to confront extremism when faced with SF/IRA terrorist claims that they were killing innocent civilians "in our name" for the sake of a united Ireland.

It wasn't easy, but we did it and now those same terrorists have had to publicly accept that their goal of a united Ireland can never be achieved by violence.

The blame for ISIS and the existence of other Muslim extremists does not rest with the West, it is the fault of Muslim communities who failed in their responsibility to challenge such extremism in the first place.

Desmond FitzGerald, Canary Wharf, London

 

Our affinity with people of Gaza

In my opinion, the Gaza conflict offers many Irish people the perfect opportunity to jump in and gain the high moral ground, which helps to mitigate the effects of a deep-rooted inferiority complex caused by centuries of colonisation and subjugation in which they feel an affinity with the people of Gaza.

The Gazans are fairly recent occupants from Egypt and Jordan, having arriving in the 19th century about the same time as the Jews began returning to this part of the world.

They still mostly consider themselves as Egyptians and Jordanians, etc.

In other words, there is no country called Palestine that they have lost through colonisation by Israel and therefore this feeling of affinity is not on solid ground at all.

The above mentioned inferiority complex is made worse by the shame and guilt of one's nature inculcated by the church, along with the racial intolerance and the bias against the Jews.

Paddy O'Connor, Edmonton, Canada

 

Putting water out to tender

I read the intriguing article (Irish Independent, August 11) regarding the need to go to tender over postcodes with interest, and wonder why the same ruling does not seem to have applied to Irish Water?

I strongly object to paying bills that may be issued from an illegal company - if indeed Irish Water has been set up without competition, as it appears at this time.

If Irish Water was set up against EU law, then perhaps it begs the question: are we still legally bound to pay?

Caitriona McClean, Lucan, Co Dublin

 

Bankers, witches - silly season

We know it is the silly season but our former Taoiseach John Bruton may be losing the run of himself.

We are now informed that blaming the bankers is like blaming witches in former times.

The analogy with witches may in fact not be that far-fetched. Consider the range of obtuse and misty financial machinations used in the bankers' brew. They surely amount to financial wizardry.

Coverage of Mr Bruton's speech made it clear that he was speaking without notes.

He might like to reconsider that approach when he is dealing with matters so sensitive to public opinion.

John F Jordan, Brussels, Belgium

 

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