Recently, there has been some soul-searching taking place on the subject of Ireland's "neutrality" during the Second World War, Alan Shatter's statement that "‘we should no longer be in denial that, in the context of the Holocaust, Irish neutrality was a principle of moral bankruptcy" being but one example.
Following on from that, an article by Diarmuid Ferriter appeared in the Irish Times, which prompted some debate in the comments section. The following is from "Kate", who makes some very interesting points which go beyond the subject of neutrality. In effect, she questions the solidity of of Dev's and the nation-builders' very foundation stones.
Well worth a read. Thanks to Anna for bringing our attention to this one:
"It seems that De Valera's stance was not so much to keep Ireland neutral, but rather to keep her isolated. .... Maybe De Valera was just too much anti-Brit ..."
Well said: keep them poor, ignorant, swamped in myth and imbued with fear of outsiders. The 'history' of Ireland as instilled by Church and State was insular, self-aggrandising and devoid of context. In De Valera's Ireland the ‘outside’ existed as a threat to Irish Catholicism and/or 'independence'.
As for the magnificent ‘sacrifice’ in the war of independence: a total of 1,400 were killed: 363 RIC personnel, the majority of whom were Irish Catholic and killed by the IRA; 261 British Army soldiers; 550 IRA volunteers, and 200 civilians. (Hopkinson, Irish War of Independence, pp. 201-202).
Any objective student of history might note Ireland suffered little loss in "defeating” a “British Empire" weakened by 6 million soldiers dead or lost in WWI - 662,000 of the dead were British plus a further 140,000 British recorded missing; 5,104 of those, men of the 36th Ulster Division on 1st July 1916 at the Somme; just short of 10 times the 550 who died for Irish "freedom". The total number of Irish deaths in WWI as opposed to the 550 who died in the war of Independence was 27,405.
In such context, details of Irish nationalists then murdering each other in a Civil War leaves no space for the usual mythologizing; in rejecting the Treaty De Valera rejected the democratic will of the majority of the Irish people and turned “brother on brother” (James Stephens). Interestingly, the total number of Civil War dead and wounded has never been counted; records show 500-800 Free State Army soldiers killed and “over 12,000 Republicans imprisoned”.
Researchers have estimated 4,000 died – murdered by their 'own' kith and kin, nearly eight times the number of 'volunteers' killed by the British in the war of independence!
And then ‘The Famine' 1845; no acknowledgement EVER in Ireland that, mid-1840s, a 'potato blight' swept Northern Europe, not just Ireland. At that time, there was NO "social contract" anywhere - just charity. Indeed prior to the mirage 'Tiger', it would appear only the self-designated 'elite' survived comfortably in Ireland? I take my information from Mr Ferriter’s excellent series. Pre-1990 it was ‘normal’ for the Irish 'poor' to emigrate in their hundreds of thousands, as it is again today.
In the mid-1840s: 40,000–50,000 died from famine in Belgium; in Portuguese Cape Verde famine killed 42% of the population; in the Highlands of Scotland 1.7 million either died or emigrated; in Ireland "it is estimated 1 million died; 1.5 million emigrated"; famine resulted "in hundreds of thousands of deaths in north Portugal”; in Finland “15% of the entire population died”; in northern Sweden “more than150,000 died”. People educated elsewhere know these facts and more.
Something needs to change in the Irish Education system.
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