Leavers and Remainers: Southern Ireland’s Exit from the United Kingdom

Some parallels – quite amazing to me – struck me as I was thinking over the summer about the Irish Convention of 1917. I’ve just written on this for the Dublin Review of Books: http://www.drb.ie/blog/comment/2017/08/19/the-first-irexit

24 thoughts on “Leavers and Remainers: Southern Ireland’s Exit from the United Kingdom”

  1. There is no comparison between Irexit (from the British Union) and Brexit (from the European Union).

    Among the main differences I can think of offhand are the following:

    ( 1) Britain joined the EU on its own initiative. It made several applications to join before being accepted. Ireland’s accession to the British Union was the result of military conquest.

    ( 2) The EU never dissolved the British parliament to replace it with a Brussels-controlled puppet parliament.

    ( 3) The EU does not keep an army of occupation in Britain to overturn the Brexit referendum result. It has accepted the result unequivocally. In Ireland the British army of occupation went to war to overturn the democratic result of the 1919 election.

    ( 4) The population of Britain did not fall by 65% during its time in the EU. In Ireland the population fell by 65% between 1841 and 1922. Furthermore, it wasn’t a one-off famine-related fall – the population fell every decade up to 1922. The population of every other European country rose in that period.

    ( 5) The Remainers in Britain are not planning an armed insurrection, with EU connivance, to partition the country, whereby those parts that voted to remain will separate from the rest of Britain and stay in the EU.

    ( 6) The EU hasn’t charged Boris Johnson, David Davis and Nigel Farage with treason and executed them after a show trial.

    ( 7) The EU hasn’t stolen the land of British farmers and handed it to rich Brussels bureaucrats, giving them absurd titles like ‘Lord Lisdoonvarna’ to glamourise the robbery.

    ( 8) During its time in the EU Britain didn’t experience any famines that wiped out a quarter of the population.

    ( 9) The EU has never attempted to eradicate the use of the English language.

    (10) The EU has never banned the majority religion in Britain.

    On the question of Ireland’s ‘prosperity’ under the British Union, it is absurd to take a handful of successful industries, owned and financed by the occupying landrobber class, and portray them as the norm. Ireland’s population fell by 65% between 1841 and 1922, which tells us all we need to know about its ‘prosperity’.

    On the question of Ulster’s ‘prosperity’, it was only ‘prosperous’ in comparison with the rest of Ireland. Compared with everywhere else in western Europe it fared very badly under the British Union. The population of what is now N. Ireland fell from 1.54m in 1841 to 1.26m, a fall of 25% – which compares favourably with the 65% fall in the rest of Ireland, but is appalling in comparison with every other European country over the same period.

    1. @JtO

      Surely you are obliged to attend DEW? It’s simply not fair to deprive us of your input and one presumes excellent company.

  2. And by the way, I think you’ll find that what you call ‘Southern Ireland’ contains Malin Head.

  3. @ JTO Well said!

    Still, the parallels in terms of how groups behave is interesting. That the historical experience of Ireland has created a certain dependency culture is quite simply undeniable. Despite nearly half a century of membership of the EU, there is a view, maybe even a majority one, that we are somehow a ward of the EU, not a member. This now risks surfacing once again; with a vengeance. Many want to go looking for another protector, maybe even an old one. Varadkar, before he came Taoiseach, in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, said on RTE radio, if my memory serves me right, that “he had been thinking of Ireland’s history” and that that the three developments that stood out for him were (i) leaving the Commonwealth (ii) breaking the link with sterling and (iii) adopting the euro. He is right. There is no going back.

  4. One could add that the real issue is the debate between the Leavers and the Remainers in the UK.This stream of consciousness contribution on an FT blog from a Remainer will set the tone (with the indulgence of the initiator of this thread).

    PSMOxford 2 days ago

    This article is as misleading as the entire referendum campaign for Brexit was, in order to manipulate — mendaciously and counter-productively, — popular understanding of what our relationship with the EU is actually about. The economic case for Brexit is based on false, damagingly nationalistic, presumptions/premises. Contrary to what Mr. Lyons suggests, there is no “best way to maximise the economic benefits of Brexit”. Simply put, here are no net benefits to be had. Brexit is a lose-lose proposition for Britain, seen from any perspective other than the rose-tinted one of reviving our much vaunted (illusory) genius for independent economic success through free trade. When Britain traded in a world in which it set all the rules, to disadvantage other countries and colonies (like India where we destroyed its textile industries, through our self-centred ‘free trade’ policies; not to mention the damage we did to China by insisting on access to its market through ‘free trade’ in opium) we ‘succeeded’. But it was an odd kind of success. After WW-2 we traded in a different kind of world, where we no longer set the rules. The US did — much to the world’s benefit. Then, Britain was an acknowledged failure as the ‘sick man of Europe’. Look at the contrast between Britain’s overall long-term record of economic performance between 1946-1973, when it was not a member of the EU, and its record from 1974-2016 after it became a member. It failed miserably in the first period (apart from the blip of immediate post-war reconstruction) but performed remarkably well in the second. The difference is chalk and cheese. In rounded figures, the net British contribution to the EU budget is a net £10 billion out of total public expenditure of around £750 billion. That is less than 1.4% — or in the realm of errors and omissions. We waste more than that through mismanagement in the NHS every year. The net cost to Britain of being in the EU is infinitesimal, compared to what Britain gains by being a member of the EU. The British public is just beginning to realise that, as the Brexit drama unfolds and an incompetent, unprepared government comes to terms with, and exposes the public to, harsh realities that it had not even contemplated before. Besides, our gross contribution to the EU budget is less than £22 billion, or under 3% of total British public expenditure. That only shows that Britain has total sovereignty over 97% of what its spends for domestic public expenditure on health, education, pensions, welfare, defence foreign aid and debt service — areas in which the EU has little or no influence over the UK. Though we claim we are constrained by the EU’s ‘protectionism’ we actually benefit from it by having privileged access to a market of over 460 million people, which is about $18 trillion in size (larger than the US or China). Through the EU we have workable and profitable trade arrangements with at least 60 other non-EU countries. They account for over 90% of world trade excluding the EU. If we were as constrained, as the Brexiteers wish to make us believe, why is it that the US, China, India, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, are already our largest trading partners outside the EU? The EU accounts for 46% of our trade. These other ten trading partners account for nearly 50%. How much more do we think we could get out of FTA’s with them? The nonsense that Mr Lyons and all Brexiteers peddle, that outside the EU we can “determine our own laws, do our own trade deals, escape EU protectionism and set our own tariffs” is just delusionary, empty Brexiteer rhetoric. In such trade deals we would come out worse losers, especially in deals with the US, China and India. Trade deals with them will be to their advantage, not ours. With the US we’ll be eating chlorinated chicken and absorbing many of their sub-standard regulations and safety standards. In China and India, we’ll be importing manufactures and agricultural produce (where they have a strong comparative advantage) but will not be allowed to export our financial and business services to them freely. They would use ‘developing country’ status in the WTO to block us. We would come out no better off than we are now, when we go off on our own. We might well come out much worse. Does anyone really think Liam Fox knows how to negotiate a better trade deal with non-EU countries than the EU does? We don’t even have enough experienced, knowledgeable trade negotiators to begin. The EU has them all in this part of our world. These deals would take much longer to close than we are led to believe, if we look dispassionately at the record of how trade deals are done and how long they take. Contrary to the view that Mr. Lyons explicates, we actually do set our own laws in our own parliament. But, we do that compatibly with the sovereignty we voluntarily share with the other 27 members of the EU. Pooled sovereignty is not the same as lost or surrenderd sovereignty except to those who do not understand what sovereignty really means. Pooled sovereignty makes Britain stronger, as an influential global voice, using the much larger throw-weight of the EU. That matters to other world powers, trading partners and investors, much more than it will when we become an isolated, average, medium-sized economy (the 12th largest in the world and not the 5th largest as Brexiteers keep saying, if measured by the right metric of PPP exchange rates). In short, Brexit will not result in any net economic benefit to Britain. It will result in a significant net loss which we will simply have to do our best to minimise. That is the unfortunate task David Davis has — not to negotiate the best Brexit deal for Britain, but to come up (hopefully) with the least worst.  Brexit will also imperil our internal relationships — especially in Ireland and Scotland. That may result eventually in the possible unravelling of the United Kingdom — an unanticipated and unwanted bit of collateral damage. All this is slowly and relentlessly becoming painfully obvious. So, it is time for Mr. Lyons and his ilk (who seem strikingly similar to Donald Trump’s being so otiose in the US) to cease and desist indulging in pure, unadulterated folly that will result in considerable self-harm to the UK.  Farage, Johnson, Gove, Stuart, Hoey et al  and others had the sense to realise that, early on the referendum campaign when they switched the argument for Brexit from economics (Project Fear, which is now materialising) to immigration in the certainty that appealing to classic British xenophobic prejudice would win over any appeal to common sense. 

  5. Professor Barry

    “As in the case of the American civil war, disagreement over trade policy was a key component of the economics of partition.”

    Please stop this nonsense about the cause of the American civil war. In 2017, do you really have to be reminded of the Mississippi secession resolution to figure out what it was all about?

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_missec.asp

  6. @ FrankBarry

    Many thanks for this really thought -provoking and insightful piece! Lots of points that are worth exploring further.

    Throughout its history, the Irish independence movement incorporated different strands. The traditional constitutionalists, from the time of O’Connell’s mass movements through to Parnell and the National Party, favoured independence for Ireland something along the lines of contemporary Scottish and Welsh devolution. The revolutionary nationalists, in a variety of factions, demanded complete separation.

    As Joseph Ruane pointed out in his contribution to a Conference in Maynooth organised by Sean O’Riain and his colleagues earlier this year, much of the social and political infrastructure for a devolved Irish state – e.g. land reform, ceding of control over education and health services to the Churches, a local government electoral system designed to exclude ‘extremists’ – were set in place from the late 19th century. Arguably, this was as much in expectation of an ultimate quasi- independent status for Ireland as British appeasement of immediate Irish demands for social and structural reform. the objective in either case was to ensure forms of political and social stability.

    Ruane further suggested that the revolutionary nationalists had no coherent plan for the governance of Ireland beyond the goal of full political separation and its accompanying rhetoric. As the victors of the struggle for independence from 1916-’22, they adopted the political structures that were by then well embedded in the newly independent state. Over time, they also adapted to the realities of the ‘Atlantic Economy’ model, such as maintaining the currency link with Sterling until 1989 and variations on the theme of the ‘common travel area’. As many historians and political scientists have noted, the definition of ‘Irish nationhood’, what it comprises and what it meant, has been created, and recreated, as time and circumstances require.

    The struggle between the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexiteers within the current British political establishment thus seems analogous to the long drawn-out struggle between Irish constitutional and revolutionary nationalists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It certainly exhibits similar characteristics. In the case of Brexit though, neither the enthusiasts for a ‘hard’ or a ‘soft’ Brexit appear to have any clear vision of what they’re about. The ‘remainers’ have been politically sidelined by the UK Labour Party’s acquiescence to Brexit and as such lack opportunities for political entrepreneurship, much as did so-called ‘Anglo–Irish’ nationalists in the Independence era.

    Post- Independence, representing existing Irish industry as ‘Anglo-Irish’ and thus not fitting the true nationalist paradigm, and its loss to the country as no great loss, may have been a convenient political frame at the time. It may even be regarded as a necessary conceit in terms of fostering a national consensus around a set of values to define the newly independent state and its prospects for success.

    Incidentally, among the industries lost to Ireland following independence was the Dublin city-based Grubb company, telescopic lens manufacturers, which moved to Newcastle and re-established as Grubb Parsons in 1925. At its height in Dublin in the early 20th century, the firm employed some 400 people. Its contracts with the British Navy Department are said, at least in part, to have necessitated the transfer of its operations to the UK post- independence. The Parsons connection relates to the family of the 3rd Earl of Rosse, William Parsons, astronomer and builder of the celebrated ‘Leviathan’ telescope at Birr in Co. Offaly in 1845.

    The extent to which a sectarian narrative of an Independent Catholic Nationalist Ireland may have percolated down to interpersonal relationships at community level is more nuanced, and has been largely overlooked. As someone born in Leitrim and growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s, I don’t fully recognise the so-called sectarian divide that some have suggested existed between the various Christian denominations in the normal exercise of their daily life. Perhaps the closer to the ‘border’ one lived, the more acute such divides became as political sensitivities over nationalism, and its political expression, sharpened. Or maybe it was a question of social class? To what extent did the realities of shared conditions of poverty in rural Irish life intrude?

    What I do know is that in my own community people may have gone to different churches on Sundays, and been educated separately; but they all lumped in together when it came to securing the harvest and the rest of it, and in the display of bonds of friendship, social activities, and occasional intermarriage. Poverty was the great leveller.

  7. I think JTO is right and his demolition of your “amazing parallels” is on a par with his brilliant demolition job on MK. Brexit is entirely sui generis and is a final English nationalist ‘Rage against the dying of the light’ rather than any desire to throw off a colonial overlord.

  8. These parallels and ironies certainly exist, but perhaps there are others that are even more salient. For example, the resolve of a majority of Irish voters to break with Britain to the greatest extent possible was becoming evident even while the doomed Irish Convention sat and this resolve was confirmed in the 1918 General Election. Even if the initial 52:48 majority in June 2016 in favour of a UK break with the EU wasn’t overwhelming all the current evidence suggests that the public resolve to just get on with it to the greatest extent possible is hardening – particularly in England. The irony is that many of these voters view the effects of the pooling of sovereignty that awards EU institutions specific and limited competences as more malign than the most ardent Irish nationalist’s assessment of the baleful impacts of British rule a century ago. It is even more ironic that any increases in the pooling of sovereignty and any extensions of the competences of the EU’s institutions were debated and approved by successive UK parliaments. This for me is probably the most salient parallel – with associated ironies.

    In the same way that most Irish voters were prepared to endure the hardships that accompanied independence, I sense in England a similar resignation to being compelled to deal with economic difficulties – if not, indeed, in some quarters a welcoming of the opportunity and a bloody-minded determination to do so. There is a sickening inexorability about all of this. And it will have to run its course. For all the British spoofing about frictionless and seamless border arrangements, if the UK leaves both the single market and the customs union, the EU, and Ireland as a member, will require checks on goods moving from north to south and the British will require checks on both goods and people moving from south to north. And this will be only a tiny fraction of the hassle at British and European mainland ports and airports.

    Sometimes countries and their voters have to learn what’s involved in, as it were, going it alone. It seems that the lesson that co-operation, shared effort and some pooling of sovereignty are required to advance common interests and to tackle commonly experienced ills has to be learned over and over again.

    1. As Lincon said
      ““Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
      Its only dawning on the british that there IS a fire. They still deny it has heat, and if it has heat then that that heat is hot, and if hot is capable of affecting them, and in any case there is a pleasing belief that they are blister proof, and if not well, dont they draw out the noxious humours.
      Meanwhile the EU is examining books on advanced nursing techniques for dealing with first, second or third degree burns.

      1. Lincoln, of course, was correct about elections. A majority of voters have the inalienable right to elect the mad, the bad or the dangerous – once they have an equally inalienable right to chuck the bums out after a few years. But a referendum on a complex and far-reaching matter in a parliamentary democracy is a very different beast. In this instance, there is no such thing as a hard or a soft Brexit – in the same way as there was no soft landing for the Irish property market in 2007/08. There is just Brexit. And to cap it all both main parties are being led by closet Brexiteers. This is going to be very messy. And the impact on Ireland will be seen as just part of the inevitable collateral damage.

    2. On the subject of demolition jobs, Chris Johns, consistently the best commentator on the Brexit process, had this to say in the Irish Times.
      “The UK’s first Brexit position paper, on the customs union, amounted to an exploration of the use of definite and indefinite articles. The UK wants to leave the customs union only to remain a member of a customs union.
      The difference is easy to spot: everything stays exactly the same apart from the way in which the new customs union gives Liam Fox, the UK trade secretary, something to do, namely to negotiate trade deals with other countries – something that will be permitted by a customs union but is against the law in the customs union.
      This is definitely madness without method. Why would the European Union agree to this? It’s a good question. But, at risk of looking too closely at all of this, there is, perhaps, the merest hint of a strategy behind the apparent chaos. The clue lies with the desire to leave the EU in a formal sense but with as little as possible, in practical terms, changing as a result.”
      He is absolutely right. That is – unstated but actually shared across the UK political spectrum – THE strategy.
      One is reminded of the song and dance associated with the two failed referendums in Ireland on EU issues where BOTH sides in the popular campaigns were equally ignorant of the real issues at stake. All that was needed to rectify the situation was a clarification of the issues, something which is now happening in the UK.
      Norway Plus will be the outcome, post exit from the perceived constraining formal elements of EU membership. The “constitutional angst” that the UK shares with the Norwegians and the Swiss will have been resolved.

      1. So like Norway and Switzerland, the UK will permit freedom of movement, the authority of the court etc? And the swivel eyed loons will…..?

        1. Reality will bite them. It is already doing so e.g. (courtesy Open Europe).

          The Times reports that Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, has warned of disappointment if the UK imposes more restrictive requirements on Australian citizens arriving in the UK after Brexit than on EU immigrants. Another Australian government source added that these concerns were also shared by New Zealand and Canada and would be raised in any trade talks with the UK. The Times also writes that other Commonwealth countries have privately warned the UK that proposals to allow EU citizens visa-free travel to the UK would discriminate against their citizens, who require visas to enter. An adviser to the Indian government stressed, “Mobility issues are of importance to us. We cannot separate free movement of people from the free flow of goods, services and investments.”

    3. In case my previous post may appear a bit fanciful, this extract from Hansard (4 July) of Bill Cash (!), on one of the knotty constitutional issues causing the angst, may help make it less so.
      ” I will not attempt to design a model [of a replacement for the ECJ] here and now, but it might be something along the lines of a retired European Court of Justice judge—I do not want to be held to this, but it is a thought—together with a retired member of our Supreme Court and an independent judge, so that we get the benefit of listening to arguments that bridge the two jurisdictions. We will retain our sovereignty, judicial and legislative, but we are interested, for the sake of the companies to which my hon. Friend referred, in ensuring that we give them the answers they need. Her general point raises an important practical question, and we need to ensure that we end up with something that works, without prejudicing our legislative and judicial sovereignty, while providing an answer to the people in our constituencies and throughout the United Kingdom whom we serve as Members of Parliament.”
      It is, of course, a ridiculous proposal, all the more ridiculous as there exists already such a court; the EFTA court which rules on EEA issues; the likely end station for the UK.

  9. It’s true that there were industrial stars in the South but few – the same could be said today about indigenous manufacturing and services exporting firms e.g. Ryanair is a bright star and in 2016 overtook Lufthansa to become Europe’s biggest airline.

    Guinness had its all-time record output of 2,652,000 barrels at St James’s Gate in 1914 when it employed 3,650 people.

    The Irish whiskey industry was struggling having been overtaken by Scotch rivals a few decades before, and Prohibition put an end to the century old Allman’s Distillery in Bandon.

    Henry Denny opened a joint venture in Denmark in the 1890s but soon the Danes would eclipse the Irish dominance of the British bacon market.

    Not all Southern Protestants were among the wealthy including the Fords and Henry’s interest in Cork owed a lot to Patrick Ahern, his mother’s foster father. Ahern was a native of Fair Lane on the north side of Cork City and had emigrated to Dearborn, Michigan in 1830 – a century later Henry named his house Fairlane and it was also a Ford car brand.

    The peak of employment at Ford’s plant in Cork which had opened in 1919 was 7,000 in 1930 – a record for an American firm in Ireland.

    Henry’s grandfather John who had left West Cork in 1847 bought a Michigan farm from a Thomas Maybury in 1848. Maybury was a Protestant from Bandon and a branch of the family operate businesses in Dunmanway to this day – on the night of the 1911 census an 18-year-old Harry Maybury was staying at my great-grandfather’s farm near Dunmanway.

    Northern Ireland’s manufacturing dominance on the island ended in the 1960s:

    http://www.finfacts.ie/Irish_finance_news/articleDetail.php?Brexit-Northern-Ireland-s-industry-eclipsed-by-Republic-s-after-1961-803

  10. If only it were a bit of “constitutional angst”. This is experienced by relatively few people with highly refined constitutional sensibilities. And they exist not only in Britain, Norway and Switzerland, but also in Sweden and Denmark (the less tightly embedded EU members) and in the Netherlands and Germany (which are even more tightly embedded). However, what is hardening the popular Brexit resolve is much, much more visceral, deep-seated and widespread. There is little, if any, consideration of the minutiae of the roles, functions, competences or powers of the EU’s institutions; it’s simply “We didn’t vote ’em in; and we can’t vote ’em out.” I suspect many external observers are unaware of how deep-seated and widespread this conviction is. I am frequently surprised when it is expressed unexpectedly, but forcefuly, and in the most unexpected quarters. And it is expressed in almost identical fashion by those whom Theresa May would consider amongst her core constituency and by the very different group of voters to whom Jeremy Corbyn panders.

    It’s probably difficult for Irish people to understand this since it is only recently that we lost the ability to govern ourselves in some important respects and had to accept temporary governance in these areas by multilateral agencies. But, of course, the Irish genius for sustaining at least two contradictory notions simultaneously and for suspending disbelief came to the rescue. British governing politicians and senior officials are seeking to conjure up an Irish style optical illusion of being in and out of the EU at the same time. It’s the “have cake and eat it” fiction. But it just won’t work.

    1. @ Paul Hunt. What could be more of a constitutional issue than the deep-seated and widespread conviction that you refer to. However, I agree with the points that you make. Other than your view that what is being attempted will not work. I think it will for reasons that have little or nothing to do with UK – EU relations but with a hidden consensus – already emerging in the polls – that the political schism in the UK can only be resolved by such a monumental fudge, suitably camouflaged. The UK will be OUT formally of the EU as a member state but IN for participation in the economic (and defence and security, such as they are) activities of the EU on the basis of a mish mash of the Norway/Swiss model plus customs union.
      The other choices are (i) no Brexit i.e. withdrawing the Article 50 notification or (ii) crashing out. There is no majority in the UK for either option.

    2. You wrote: ‘…what is hardening the popular Brexit resolve is much, much more visceral, deep-seated and widespread. There is little, if any, consideration of the minutiae of the roles, functions, competences or powers of the EU’s institutions; it’s simply “We didn’t vote ’em in; and we can’t vote ’em out.” ‘

      It isn’t ‘consideration’ that’s in short supply. It’s interest, involvement and understanding. So many Britons know next to nothing about the EU and never bothered to find out. That ignorance and disinterest mean that they are prey to all sorts of scurrilous, prejudiced and exploitative nonsense in politics, the mainstream media and elsewhere. They don’t understand and don’t care when they conflate the ECHR with the ECJ. They claim, as you say, ‘we didn’t vote ’em in…’ but they don’t bother turning out for European parliament elections in which they do get to ‘vote ’em in’ Nor do they seem to understand that it is their elected ministers who sit in the Councils and that the UK also gets to vote for members of the Commission. The EU isn’t democratically perfect, but it’s a lot better than the overwhelming majority of Britons seem to believe. And given the insane vagaries of the UK’s electoral system, it really is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I’m no supporter of UKIP, but when it can get 12.5% of the votes cast at the 2015 general election and yet end up with just 1 of the 650 seats one really has to ask which body has the greater democratic deficit. No wonder UKIP was super-motivated to win the referendum, but its members’ anger and energy would have been better directed at the UK system.

      There is, throughout the entire relationship between the UK and the EU, a failure by too many Britons to get past the long shadow of a past in which the UK dominated the world and to move to a more collaborative and less transactional stance with its neighbours. We see a similar development in the USA today, albeit at an earlier stage of its evolution, with Trump’s ‘make America great again’. It is, as you say, visceral, deep-seated and widespread. It makes no concessions to reason or argument. It is conservative, retrograde and deeply damaging. Unhelpfully, the more the ‘true believers’ are put under pressure, the more they will dig their heels in.

      It’s going to take a long and painful process to wean these people off their infatuation with their ill-informed and misguided notions of sovereignty and superiority. Unfortunately, while they think they’ve decided to go it alone, part of the the reality they choose to ignore is that they’re also dragging us down. And that is hard to forgive.

      1. Thank you. There is much to agree with in what you’ve written. But it’s a cold comfort. We’re also probably pushing our luck here because I’m looking at the parallels between the current Brexit antics and Ireland’s exit from the UK in the years from 1919, whereas our host here is focusing on the doomed manoeuvrings of the authorities and the established parties prior to this. For me the most precise parallel at the moment to the current situation in Britain is the period between the Truce and the start of the Treaty negotiations in 1921. Once the treaty was signed and then ratified by the Dáil, we had a Civil War. It’s not beyond the bounds of probability that any attempt to craft DOCM’s “monumental fudge” will lead to a political civil war in the Tory party. And Labour, due to its internal divisions and hypocrisies, will be largely sidelined.

  11. @ JTO,
    The piece didn’t have the political intent that you read into it. That wasn’t the point at all.

    @ Breandan O,
    I hope I wouldn’t be foolish enough or careless enough to say that trade policy was the cause of the American civil war. I didn’t.

    @ Veronica McD and Michael H,
    Thanks. These were the exact topics I was presenting on at the recent Maynooth conference on southern ‘loyalism’ (that got me thinking about the parallels in the first place).

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