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Thread: Northern Ireland & The U.K.

  1. #21
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    Post An Gorta Mór

    im horribly disorganised but random subjects interest me and this is a good article despite the constant mentions of ''racism''


    THE IRISH GREAT HUNGER
    by John J. Caulfield, III

    1997 marked the 150th anniversary of the Irish Great Hunger, a widely known but poorly understood historical event. Most Americans have a vague notion of an Irish "potato famine," but few understand that over a million people died of starvation and related diseases while food was being exported from Ireland in the hundreds of thousands of tons. Far from being a famine, the Great Hunger was actually a human disaster, the culmination of seven hundred years of conflict and colonization, racism and religious discrimination against one people by another that was catalyzed by a simple microorganism, the potato blight.

    Since their conquest of Ireland in the 12th century, the English practiced a systematic discrimination against the Irish people. Large scale land confiscation occurred under Oliver Cromwell's policy known as "to hell or Connaught" and Irish landowners who refused to leave their property faced execution or slavery in the West Indies. The Statutes of Kilkenny made marriage between Irish and English a capital offense. The Penal Laws forbade all Catholics to receive an education, enter a profession, vote, hold public office, practice their religion, engage in trade or commerce, purchase or lease land, rent land or own a horse of a certain value. Laws were passed restricting Irish export competition with English trade. The destruction of Irish trade, the land seizures and the penal laws all combined to make the Irish among the poorest of the world's poor.

    By 1844, a year before the onset of the potato blight, Ireland was ruled by military occupation. The majority of native Irish were agricultural laborers who lived in conditions of poverty and insecurity and subsisted primaily on the hearty potato, which was introduced to Ireland about 1590. The potato could grow in the poorest conditions with very little effort. This was important because the Irish laborers expended most of their energy in the crops of the English landowners and had very little time to tend their own crops. In 1845 the potato blight microorganism struck, its spores carried by wind, rain and insects from England and the European continent. The blight rotted the potato plants, rendering them inedible. With the destruction of the staple crop, mass starvation of the native Irish began in the summer of 1847. There is still no cure for the fungus which caused the blight.

    The same blight had struck the potato crop in America in 1843, and Europe in early 1845. The lack of suffering in those failures was due to the availability of other food. Tragically, despite the potato blight and starvation of the native Irish, huge quantities of food were exported from Ireland to England by the English landowners. Advocating the laissez-faire economic theory of the time, the English government refrained from providing aid for the starving Irish population and even dispatched extra troops to ensure that exports from Ireland to England were not interfered with. James Wilson, the editor of the British publication The Economist, summed up the feeling of the English during this period. "It is no man's business to provide for another," he wrote. "If left to the natural law of distribution, those who deserve more would obtain it." With the end of potato cultivation because of the blight, tens of thousands of Irish tenants lost their ability to pay rent and were evicted from their homes. They were replaced by sheep and cattle which were then exported to England while the Irish continued to starve. Many of those that survived the famine were stricken by the 1848 cholera epidemic that spread throughout the overcrowded workhouses, pauper hospitals and crammed jails all over Ireland.

    Eventually, international outcry forced Parliament to introduce some relief measures. However, these were inadequate and poorly managed. Still, Prime Minister Peel was viewed by the English as too liberal toward the Irish and his government was thrown out. His successor, Lord Russell, ordered the end of the brief relief measures.

    Between 1845 and 1855, nearly two million people emigrated from Ireland to America and Australia and another 750,000 to England. Thousands of emigrants died on "coffin ships" during the Atlantic crossing and thousands more died of starvation and disease at disembarkation centers.

    In 1841 the population of Ireland was estimated to have been over 8 million. By 1851, after the Great Hunger, the population had dropped to 6.5 million, a loss of more than 1.5 million people. After mass starvation, death, eviction and large scale emigration, the British Census Commissioners self-righteously proclaimed in 1851 that Ireland benefited from the famine. In their report to the Prime Minister, the commissioners wrote that "although the population has been diminished in so remarkable a manner by famine, disease and emigration between 1841 and 1851, and has been since decreasing, the results of the Irish census of 1851 are, on the whole, satisfactory, demonstrating as they do the general advancement of the country."

    Although a natural blight occurred, it was not a famine as commonly perceived, for the blight affected only one crop. In fact, during the five years of the Great Hunger, millions of native Irish people starved to death or fell victim to preventable disease in a land that exported hundreds of tons of food annually. Rather, the Great Hunger was borne of a purposeful indifference toward humanity exhibited by an oppressive foreign government. It is a reminder that racism is an ancient scourge and that the two races in conflict need not be of different colors. The inhumanity, racism and oppression continue to this day with the British occupation of the north of Ireland.

  2. #22
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    They were true heroes, regardless of what anyone's view on the situation is, anyone who is willing to die particulary in such a slow painful way for their believes is worthy of respect.

    There are countless songs commemorating those lads, as one of the lines says "For no braver men has Ireland seen, than O'Hara , Hughes, McCreesh and Sands "

    I really like "Song for Marcella" which was written about Bobby Sands, although I think one of the most beautiful is one he wrote himself while incarcerated - "Back Home in Derry".

  3. #23
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    have you read his diary?
    i hope no one thinks we're closet commies here but a seriously good work, the man truely loved his country and died for it - any ''net nazi'' who wishes to contradict this , remember that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scathach
    have you read his diary?
    i hope no one thinks we're closet commies here but a seriously good work, the man truely loved his country and died for it - any ''net nazi'' who wishes to contradict this , remember that.
    Well, I don't think wanting to unite and free your country is neccesarily a Communist goal.
    In fact, paradoxically, I think Bobby Sand's success in being elected as an Member of Parliment signalled a real move to the left for the IRA.
    Before then the more militant IRA had been in charge (remembering these were right-wing Provisionals who had split from the OIRA because they had been tainted with Socialism), after the election success then Sinn Fein started to become the dominant partner moving more into constitutional politics and getting more to the left.

    Bobby's diary? No, I haven't actually.
    Do you have a link for it or do you have an actual copy?

  5. #25
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    i have a link to it, ill post it shortly and get back to this shortly
    what i meant when i talked about commies was that todays SF are very very left leaning btw

  6. #26
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    Yeah, I know but it's just that I'm getting tired and I'm veering off the subject at hand halfway through my sentences

    Yeah, if Pearse could see modern day Republicans like those in Sinn Fein, he's have one or two other declarations to make methinks

    Thanks for the link in advance, I'm off to bed now with a busy day ahead. First order of the day will be to aid the "cause" by cheering on the only Irish football team to play in Britain

    Oiche maith mo cuisle agus codlah samh

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    http://larkspirit.com/hungerstrikes/diary.html


    I am standing on the threshold of another trembling world. May God have mercy on my soul.

    My heart is very sore because I know that I have broken my poor mother's heart, and my home is struck with unbearable anxiety. But I have considered all the arguments and tried every means to avoid what has become the unavoidable: it has been forced upon me and my comrades by four-and-a-half years of stark inhumanity.

    I am a political prisoner. I am a political prisoner because I am a casualty of a perennial war that is being fought between the oppressed Irish people and an alien, oppressive, unwanted regime that refuses to withdraw from our land.

    I believe and stand by the God-given right of the Irish nation to sovereign independence, and the right of any Irishman or woman to assert this right in armed revolution. That is why I am incarcerated, naked and tortured.

    Foremost in my tortured mind is the thought that there can never be peace in Ireland until the foreign, oppressive British presence is removed, leaving all the Irish people as a unit to control their own affairs and determine their own destinies as a sovereign people, free in mind and body, separate and distinct physically, culturally and economically.

    I believe I am but another of those wretched Irishmen born of a risen generation with a deeply rooted and unquenchable desire for freedom. I am dying not just to attempt to end the barbarity of H-Block, or to gain the rightful recognition of a political prisoner, but primarily because what is lost in here is lost for the Republic and those wretched oppressed whom I am deeply proud to know as the 'risen people'

  8. #28
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    I just sneaked a peak there and thought it remarkable that he kept his humour even during such times:

    I ate the statutory weekly bit of fruit last night. As fate had it, it was an orange, and the final irony, it was bitter.



    Ok, I' really gone now!

  9. #29
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    he was actually quite hilarious wasn't he
    of course nothing beats NavanMan and the ''PEAS PROCESS'' in my mind...if you have never listened to the last word on today FM that means nothing to you of course..

    oiche mhaith!

  10. #30
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    this is quite good, blunt and to the point. i didn't read all of it but i presume he has it right!

    http://www.rootsweb.com/~fianna/history/

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