This year 2021 marks the centenary of the division of the island of Ireland that saw the birth of the Republic in the south and the union of six of the nine counties of Ulster under British sovereignty in Northern Ireland with a majority of the Protestant and unionist population for being in favor of the union with Great Britain. It had preceded a civil war and the wounds were still bleeding when the Irish were called to London to negotiate their independence.
Look at the period you look at in its recent history, Ireland always ends up putting death figures on its political changes. The biggest wound is potato famine, from 1845 to 1852, in which one million people died of hunger and two million emigrated in episodes more similar to the biblical than to the Victorians. Ireland today has more than four million inhabitants. The British were not to blame for the poor harvests, but they did not forgive tithes or taxes or offer relief to provide grain. The options of the hungry were over (to emigrate by sea) or under (buried underground).
Potato hunger is the thorn in the DNA of modern Ireland. The second chapter is that of the war against the British whose dead have been identified one by one in a recently published book: The Dead of the Irish Revolution, in total 2,849 dead from 1916 to 1921. And the last wound, which has not yet closed, is that of the Troubles or terrorism. From 1968 to 1998, violence caused the death of more than 3,500 people: 52% civilians; 32% British police or military; and 16% paramilitaries. With these saddlebags, full of the dead, the trip to the future does not bode well for joy.
Unionists are angry because they want a new border Brexit, but they are not up in arms. They ignore the centennial of its location in the six northern counties; however, the Republic is ready to fire noisy rockets to celebrate the centennial party. President Michael D. Higgins He stars in a series of conferences under the title Machnamh 100 that reviews the history of Ireland. Reflection means reflection, thought or meditation in Gaelic. In one of his early speeches, Higgins has thrown the darts at Great Britain by saying that “the empire shaped Ireland’s past, and after a century of partition it still conditions our present.”
In his vituperation, the president accuses British historians of “feigned amnesia” and warns that the centenary will be celebrated “with the ethics of remembrance.” According to the president, “the European illustration it has been used by imperialism to expand its modernity and thus dominate, exploit the economy, subdue culture and dispossess the colonized. “The intervention of Michael D. Higgins has provoked responses from the former colonizer. From the conservative The Daily Telegraph Owen Polley replies to the president saying that “he has a tough face giving history lessons to the British and accusing academics of amnestics.”
In The Irish Independent, the historian Frank Coughlan tries to get away from controversy by saying that the fascinating thing about this imperial story is knowing “how a humid island in the North Atlantic managed to dominate not only the waves of the sea, but also the prairies of America, the plains of Africa and the deserts of Arabia “. And from the British empire of a hundred years ago, another Irish politician named Michael –Martin surname-, Prime Minister, has passed to the recent wounds of the stage of terrorism and the infiltration of spies of all stripes. A secret chapter, that of spies and terrorists, which emerges from time to time since the 1998 Peace Accords.
A couple of weeks ago, the taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) became involved in the Dail (Parliament) with the deputy of the Sinn Fein, Mairead Farrell, whose aunt and namesake was assassinated in 1988 in Gibraltar by British security forces along with two other members of the IRA. The deputy argued that the Martin government does not do enough to comply with the pacts to know the past. The taoiseachIn an angry tone, he replied that “perhaps the time has come for Sinn Fein to apologize and help shed light on the Troubles’ legacy in cases like the Kingsmills massacre” – the death of ten Protestant workers taken out of a van and shot He burned clothes the day after six Catholics were shot dead in 1976.
In this chain of recriminations, Michael Martin not only accuses Sinn Fein of not collaborating to clarify the past, but also points the finger at the British Government. “London should fulfill its obligations to investigate the death of Pat Finucane,” said the taoiseach. Patrick Finucane, 39, a Catholic lawyer, was assassinated in February 1989 while having breakfast with his wife and young children in a death involving British agents in what is known as “collusion“and that it is part of a gray area (that of spies, informants and infiltrated thugs) that, according to the 1998 Peace Accords, must be clarified by all those involved.
The British Government, in the words of the then Prime Minister, David cameron, it recognized in December 2012, “impressive levels of infiltration of the British security forces in the paramilitary groups”. Cameron has apologized to Pat Finucane’s family, who are still calling for an independent investigation into the murder. John Finucane, son of the deceased lawyer, is Sinn Fein MP for North Belfast. For now, the historical periods between London and Dublin are wounds that open and close in time with the events of the day.