26 August 2005

Andrew M. Greeley: IRA's struggle justified

The Arizona Daily Star

Via News Hound

My Opinion

The editorial boards of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times - the "official" thought molders of the nation - rarely agree on anything. Recently, however, they managed to agree on one subject. Both condemned the Irish Republican Army on the grounds that there was no justice in its claims.

The violence of the Stern Gang in Israel, the African National Congress in South Africa, the FLN in Algeria is apparently OK (at least to The Times), but the IRA does not have a legitimate cause. Such ignorance of Ireland's history is intolerable. We should expect better reporting from both of them.

England had no right to occupy Ireland and exploit and persecute the Irish people for half a millennium. When it was finally forced by the original IRA to grant quasi-independence to Ireland in the early 1920s, it had no right to carve out a gerrymandered rump state in the North of Ireland for the descendants of its colonists.

Moreover it had no right to shape that last surviving colony in Europe (six of the nine counties of historic Ulster) so that its Protestant inhabitants could oppress the artificially created Catholic minority. Nor did England have the right to tolerate for a half-century political, social, educational and religious persecution of Catholics.

Small wonder that this rule by a "Protestant Parliament for a Protestant nation" created such social injustice that there was a violent revolution.

While the IRA claims a vision of a united Ireland - a vision that is certainly historically justified - it was in fact fighting the unjust oppression of Catholics in this lingering relic of English imperialistic colonialism.

I deplore violence everywhere, but the long history of Ireland's quest for freedom from English domination demonstrates that it has had to fight for justice every inch of the way.

Hardly an article about British-occupied Ireland appears in American papers does not describe the IRA in any other terms than its claim for Irish unity. Hardly a word appears about the blatant injustice of the colonial regime.

The IRA finally forced the English government to the negotiating table. Kicking and screaming, the Protestant leadership joined the negotiations.

The result was the historic Good Friday agreement that imposed a complex form of power sharing on the Protestants. Since then, the Protestant leadership, having failed to persuade its constituents of the absolute necessity of power sharing, has torpedoed every attempt to implement the agreement.

The IRA promised in the Good Friday agreement to disarm when the other conditions of power sharing had been established.

The Protestant leadership managed to persuade the world that the IRA was the barrier to peace when in fact they - or their followers - were and are the real obstacle.

No oppressive ruling class ever gives up power easily. Protestants in the North are still not ready to give up their illusion of a "Protestant" nation. Protestants are still throwing gasoline bombs into the homes of Catholics in South Armagh - something The Journal and The Times will not report.

The IRA ceased fire seven years ago in the hope justice could be achieved by peaceful negotiations. It has finally gone the last mile by voting to give up all arms and disband. Will that satisfy the country's hard-line Protestants? Based on past performance there is no reason to think that it will.

The Rev. Andrew M. Greeley, a Catholic priest, teaches at the University of Chicago and the University of Arizona. Contact him at agreel@aol.com.

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?