Britain didn’t cause the blight. That was the work of an airborne pathogen that worked its way across northern Europe, Britain, and Ireland from 1844 to 1845. The failure of the potato crop was not Britain’s doing, but the Famine was. Since 1801, with the Act of Union of Britain and Ireland, the British government in London had systematically reduced the economy of Ireland and destroyed its native industries in order to reduce competition. Union with England makes countries poorer because union with England has always been to England’s benefit.
Modern austerity – entirely designed by the British government – does not have the workhouse, but in many other respects it is the same. Austerity was implemented to exploit the effects of an economic collapse – again, entirely caused by the British state – to make the poorest pay for the excesses of the wealthy, to further reduce the working class, and to hammer a once mighty population into docility and fear. Austerity, like the workhouse in Ireland and the measures of the London government in Scotland during and after the Clearances, typifies the vindictive...
Derry-born woman Emma DeSouza has never considered herself British. She identifies as Irish, and the GFA – accepted in good faith by the people of Ireland – gives her the right to identify “as Irish or British, or both.” The GFA confirms that anyone born in the British occupied six counties has the right “to hold both British and Irish citizenship.” But recent events around Britain’s decision to leave the European Union have exposed what Republicans have always known; that Britain signed this treaty in bad faith and had no intention of honouring its terms
At twenty-seven years of age, Seán was a broken man. The trauma of what he witnessed and the effects of his near drowning caused him a severe emotional and psychic collapse, the ripples of which washed up against him – sometimes pulling him back under – for the rest of his life. His bi-polar disorder produced a curious older man; someone who would laugh with all the joy of life and sink into the bleakest recesses of the valley of the shadow of death – sometimes in the same day.
Lyra McKee’s murder was, as a journalist, as President Higgins said, “an attack on truth itself.” It is also very much an attack on Ireland’s truth. For as long as Derry, Down, Tyrone, Armagh, Antrim, and Fermanagh remain under the control of the British state, separated from the rest of Ireland, so long as Britain keeps part of Ireland subject to the priorities of England in Westminster, and ignored, dominated, and neglected, there will always be the potential for a return to violent conflict. People’s lives will always remain under the shadow of violence and the horrors of war.
Sinn Féin will never take up its seats in England’s parliament. Nothing would disgrace Ireland more than that betrayal. The Irish Republican sees this as taking a piss on the graves of all those who have laid down their lives for Ireland, on all those who have resisted and stood firm, on the graves of all Ireland’s martyrs. Sinn Féin will never sit in England’s parliament. No matter how bad things get in Britain, Sinn Féin will stay in Ireland and watch as England’s crows come home and tear that nation of liars and murderers to pieces.
This style of political policing – all the way down from Whitehall in London to the police officer doing her or his job – has one objective: To subtly and then not-so-subtly intimidate people. The hope is that it will put average, law-abiding people off activism. No one wants to be of interest – no matter how friendly they are – to the police, and less still want to be watched by the intelligence services of the state. But what this is, in reality, is an attempt on the part of the British state to disempower us – the electorate, the demos of the democracy.
This is the temple before the altar of which another Rebel could intone: “I say to my people’s masters: Beware! Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people who shall take what ye would not give.” And this is, at least in part, the meaning of Wolfe Tone’s grave; that its incompleteness is the promise of completion, that this is not over – that Ireland’s enemy should take heed. Something “is coming.” This grave in Bodenstown is not pretty. Its symbolism and meaning are dark – nightmarishly dark, but they are necessary.