A Bourgeois Appropriation of the Workers’ Lockout

A Facebook PostIreland, or at least the cultural talking-heads of Ireland, has or have declared the coming ten years a Decade of Centenaries. Depending on where each participant stands this might refer to either the centenaries of 1911 – 1921 (from the 1911 census of Ireland), or of 1913 – 1923 (from the Dublin Lockout). Whichever way we look at this, it is absurd; for no matter where we stand in the stream of human history, unless one happens to be a Young-Earth Creationist, it will always be one hundred years since something happened. Regardless, the upcoming centenaries are important for the national nation-creation myths or history of Ireland. We have the sinking of RMS Titanic, the colossal industrial agitation around the city of Dublin in the Lockout, the Great War, the Easter Rising, the War of Independence, and the Civil War. All of these things are important, but one hundred years of history and all the complex social and political currents of the historical ocean between then and now have served to add nuance and flavour to these events, resulting in a history that is highly contested, no matter how hard certain groups within Ireland try to hammer the square peg into the round hole. From the disaster of the Titanic onwards, the historical processes that have brought us to this point in time have not been all plain sailing. To begin with the old adage that only the victors are responsible for the record of accepted history is only the tip of the iceberg. Ireland has a long and rich history, her many and diverse communities have long histories, and the people of Ireland have equally long memories – and this may be part of the problem today when it comes to the state, or sanitised, presentation of a national historical narrative. Continue reading

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What Is Really So Crap About Kilmarnock?

A Facebook PostThe warning that one should expect to encounter “drug addicts, violence and binge-drinking” had me convinced that Marc Horne’s article in Scotland on Sunday (October 27th 2013) was going to be yet another exposé on the royal family. It wasn’t until the words “litter-strewn urban decay” that I arrived at the full realisation that this piece was going to be about Ayrshire and the town of Kilmarnock in particular. Litter-strewn is the last thing that can be associated with the British royal establishment; they have whole armies of working class people cleaning up their rubbish. Horne, naturally enough, isn’t peddling his own very humble opinion. He is giving the North Briton broadsheet rubber stamp to Sam Jordison and Dan Kiernan’s sequel to their 2004 poverty porn sensation, Crap Towns, just in time for Christmas. Crap Towns Returns is altogether much of the same: a condescending sneer from the self-appointed editorial pedestal of a Cambridge University graduate. Perhaps this ad hominem observation is a little uncalled for, it would be wrong to base any response to this literature on the persons responsible for it. No, integrity demands that we keep our thoughts on this work, which is on the same wavelength as chavtowns.co.uk, on topic – class war. Continue reading

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Et Cum Spiritu Tuo | Peace and Justice in Modern Ireland

Magdalene LaundryWOVEN DEEP WITHIN the fabric of Christian tradition is the image of the perfection of peace. Christ, who is himself heralded in the book of the prophet Isaiah as the ‘Prince of Peace,’ is said to have extended to his followers and the world ‘a peace the world cannot give.’ Without this mystical and transcending peace the Church loses all meaning, for without this it loses its flavour and is worth little else but to be cast out and trampled underfoot. This week in Ireland the peace of the Church has been shown to be exactly that; tasteless salt fit for nothing but rejection. The Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee to Establish the Facts of State Involvement with the Magdalene Laundries, chaired by Senator Martin McAleese, a dentist and husband of the former President of Ireland Mary McAleese (presently in Rome studying Roman Catholic Canon Law), was published. Somewhere over a quarter of the between ten and thirty thousand girls and women whose human rights were grievously violated under the ‘care’ of these diabolical institutions were sent there directly by the instruments of the Irish State; be that by the criminal justice system, the reformatory schools or the police force. Continue reading

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Umm, Jesus, It’s Windy Out Here

I’ve now taken a few stabs at this post because there is so much to say about the idea of peace. My conclusion after spending a good deal of time reflecting on the topic as well as my life, is that peace is illusive. It’s a slippery bugger; and while some find it, many lose grasp rather quickly. My belief for this explanation is that we live in a broken world. There is no need to dig deeply into examples of brokenness as they are plentiful. I find it almost comical the difference we see in the disciples between the four Gospels and from the Book of Acts on. In the gospels we see these motley fools making great claims, swearing allegiance to Christ and his teachings yet we see them fail over and over. One example that I looked at is found in the book of Mark, 4:39 in the King James Bible. Recounted here is a story of Jesus calming the fierce storm while travelling by boat. The annoyance of being awoken from his sleep by the disciples who are certain they will all succumb to the powerful storm ask Jesus what they should do, “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Continue reading

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The Nature Of Peace

The Palos Verdes Blue - Rare And FragileWhat is peace?

The definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary (online) says this:

1 : a state of tranquillity or quiet: as

a : freedom from civil disturbance

b : a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom <a breach of the peace>

2 : freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions

3 : harmony in personal relations


a : a state or period of mutual concord between governments

b : a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity

5: used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell

at peace

: in a state of concord or tranquillity Continue reading

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Understanding and Mercy | Abortion in Ireland

The Cross and the Gun“I must note with dismay,” said Pope Benedict on January 7th to an assembly of the Vatican diplomatic corps, “that, in various countries, even those of Christian tradition, efforts are being made to introduce or expand legislation which decriminalises abortion.” Michael Kelly, the editor of The Irish Catholic, was not wrong in his assessment that the Holy Father, whilst not mentioning Ireland explicitly, had this country in mind as he formulated his statement. Certainly this papal comment comes only days after the papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles John Brown, challenged the Irish government by calling upon people of faith to work together for the sanctity of human life. An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, rightly commented that, as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope was entitled to have his own opinion. One might go a little further and say that, ‘as a person,’ the Pope is entitled to his own opinion. Continue reading

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What They Really Think About Us

ZombiesSurviving the post-apocalyptic landscape that Ireland has become in the wake of the Celtic Tiger is difficult enough for most people. The economic downturn and the past number of lean years and a governmental programme of austerity have exposed the serious divisions in Irish society. The years of plenty have spawned no small number of Tiger Cubs who feel no shame in flaunting their wealth and privilege in the faces of those who have been most affected by recession and hard times. As economic depression speeds the transfer of wealth from the working poor to the idle wealthy the mood of triumphalism in Ireland’s bourgeoisie reaches fever pitch. All the while the class war moves on from one middle class offensive to another: cheap ‘reality’ television shows depicting the fecklessness of the working classes, the publication of one ‘rich list’ after another, and the continual and propagandistic highlighting of social welfare fraud in the lowest economic brackets of Irish society. Continue reading

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