The following letter was published by The Irish News today in reply to the review of ‘Resurgence’ written by Dr. Robert McNamara. Letters to the newspaper are limited to 500 words so a more extensive reply will appear on this site soon. The Irish News gave it the headline, ‘View of Haughey as Catholics’ Best Friend Still Holds’:
Ignoring the vitriol in Robert McNamara’s review of ‘Catastrophe and Resurgence: The Catholic Predicament in Northern Ireland’ let me get straight to the point.
Dr. McNamara ridicules my argument that Britain established “an arena for communal conflict in the Six Counties that it hoped would provide leverage over the greater prize, regaining hegemony over the Twenty Six”.
Why then did Britain construct something here no one wanted, Nationalist or Unionist, with its detachment from the rest of the island and semi-detachment from the UK, with an unprecedented boycott of the Parties of State? These Parties of State excluded members from NI and this has not been mentioned in a single history. What other purpose could such a unique and perverse entity, established by the greatest statesmen of the Imperial State, have had? Surely not “the better government of Ireland” or a recognition of reality, as is naively claimed?
The emergence of the Irish democracy, which Britain failed to repress, could still be curtailed as an independent expression. So the distinct political innovation called ‘Northern Ireland’ with its Unionist sub-government was created to act as a prize for Anti-Partitionism, requiring “moderation,” and as a deterrent to any enhancement of sovereignty attempted in the state conceded to nationalists in the 26 Counties.
Having divided the National movement and provoked it into a war on the Treaty, Britain withdrew from its pseudo-state. Control of the false front it constructed in NI was franchised to Unionism with the disastrous results of the Stormont era.
Is that really such a preposterous thing to argue?
In August 1969 it exploded and Britain was forced back in to stabilise what its sub-government had lost control of. Westminster never desired this and it intended to resurrect the former position as soon as it could.
Dr. McNamara does not like my view of Taoiseach Lynch and Charles Haughey. After Lynch made his “won’t stand (idly) by speech” and instructed his government to make preparations for incursions in the North he was rumbled by the British and lost his nerve. He ordered an about turn, signalled by the arrest of those pursuing his policy, and the Arms Trials. This drastic act hung out to dry those who were pursuing his policy and negated Dublin’s influence in the North. It produced a vacuum behind the barricades in a situation which had already been exacerbated by Westminster.
The Northern Catholics were abandoned, as in 1922, and left to the mercy of ‘Northern Ireland’. But this time they did something different, availing of the solidarity produced within themselves by August 1969, and emerged in independent substance as never before. They reached within themselves to deal with their predicament. And the rest is history.
Finally, I’m sure both Mr. Adams and the late Fr. Reid would back up my view of Charles Haughey as the best friend Northern Catholics ever had in the South, despite Dr. McNamara’s slander of his reputation.
Dr. Pat Walsh