Monday 18 December 2017

Incisive analysis by Butler missed

Madam – Ronan Fanning is, of course, entitled to pass any judgement he likes on Charles Haughey's response to the Falklands War. But a Professor Emeritus of Modern History should stick to the facts and not engage in myth making en route to his polemical destination, as when he writes of "Haughey's anti-British instincts, first publicly exemplified by his role as a student in burning the Union Flag hoisted over Trinity College on VE Day in 1945" (Sunday Independent, December 30, 2012). The fact is that Ireland's national Tricolour was the only flag set alight over Trinity College that day by one of the Empire Loyalist pups who had first raised the Union Flag above it. The latter flag remained intact, but in response to the Trinity provocation some protesters, including Haughey, set another Union Flag alight on the street below.

A patriotic Irish Republican response to that Trinity provocation was expressed as follows a fortnight later: "To get the TCD episode into proportion, let us, therefore, look for its equivalent in some other small nation with an unassimilated minority. Let us suppose that 'an excited schoolboy, who should have known better', from the Sudetenland, were to hang a swastika in pre-war days from the famous University of the German ascendancy in Prague. Would the Czechs dismiss it with 'Boys will be boys!'?" (Irish Times, May 21, 1945). These words of wisdom from the self-described Protestant Republican Hubert Butler were very much to the point in recognising the essential equivalence of such "Croppies Lie Down" Union Jackery and Nazi flag-waving over those regarded as untermenschen. Regrettably, successive editors have failed to include this incisive analysis by Butler in any of the editions of his writings that have been regularly published over the years.

Manus O'Riordan,

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