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Ireland’s Recent Elections in Historical Context by James Bogle

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Essay

Ireland’s Recent Elections in Historical Context

"You can kill the revolutionary but not the revolution," an Ireland-Mexico solidarity mural, with a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann (Irish Republican Army), James Connelly (Irish revolutionary), Emiliano Zapata (Mexican revolutionary) and United Farm Workers member. Ballymurphy Road, Belfast, 1992.

Photo: CAIN Archive

An Irishman never quite knows what he’s fighting for…but he’s prepared to fight to the death for it. So ran the old joke. Like most political jokes it’s a bit overstated but contains a kernel of truth.

The truth of it is that a very large number of the Irish, both at home and in the worldwide diaspora, simply do not know their own history. Supremely ignorant of Irish history whilst loudly claiming a perfect understanding of their heritage are many Hibernian-Americans. The sad truth is that Hibernians the world over have been comprehensively indoctrinated with a very particular version of Irish history but are wholly unaware of the extent of the indoctrination.

This is perhaps well reflected in the Irish elections in the Republic in February 2020 and in the more recent elections in Northern Ireland on 5 May 2022. 

In February 2020, Sinn Fein, for the very first time, gained the second largest number of seats in the Republic’s Dail elections.

On 5 May 2022, for the very first time, Sinn Fein gained a majority of seats in the elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, taking 27 seats out of 90 compared with 24 seats for its biggest rival, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

With that number of seats, there must have been some who were not in the habit of voting for Sinn Fein, or perhaps even for any nationalist party, who decided to do so. Having said that, the neutral Alliance Party also polled much better than ever with 17 seats. 

Analysts say that the post-Brexit issue of the Irish protocol split the Unionists and thus enabled the nationalist Sinn Fein to sneak through to a lead. That may well be so. Conversely, however, at the same time, Catholics voted for the DUP in larger numbers than ever before.

How many Irish republican-nationalists know that Irish republican-nationalist leader, Eamonn de Valera, held up by so many to be a Catholic traditionalist, had been excommunicated by the Catholic Church for his radical revolutionary ideas? 

When he recently learned that the Fenian rebels of the nineteenth century had been excommunicated by Pope Pius IX (now Blessed Pope Pius IX), an Irish-American priest did not reflect quietly and re-consider his support for terrorists but, on the contrary, he turned his anger against Pope Pius IX, thereafter leading a campaign to prevent this saintly pope from ever being beatified. This was by no means an atypical republican-nationalist reaction. 

The real truth is that a lot of Irish Catholic republican-nationalists, despite their protestations, are far more republican-nationalist than they ever were Catholic. Many even think that to be Catholic is also to be republican-nationalist, blissfully unaware that, not only the popes, but also the Irish bishops roundly condemned republican-nationalist rebels and terrorists and excommunicated them. Sadly, the leaders of the republican-nationalist rebels are, and to a large extent always were, revolutionaries, and not Christians, let alone orthodox Catholics. 

Today Sinn Fein and the IRA are both neo-Marxist organisations. They both have always been revolutionary organisations bent upon achieving power by violent means against the government of the day. Their inspiration is not Roman Catholicism but rather the French Revolution. 

The Irish Republican Army (IRA), originally called the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood and later the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), was an oath-bound, secret revolutionary society dedicated to the overthrow of the government and the establishment of an independent republic. It was founded on 17 March 1858 by revolutionary James Stephens after the failure of the skirmish in Ballingary, Co Tipperary, which the Young Ireland movement aggrandised into the ‘1848 rebellion.’ 

The IRB was responsible for the 1916 Easter rising and, after the failure of that rising, in 1917, the IRB transmogrified into the more expressly violent IRA. The IRA has been at the centre of almost all republican-nationalist murders, atrocities and terrorist incidents ever since. It continues to this day, in various new guises, to try, against the wish of the majority and by violence and murder, to force the people of Northern Ireland to abandon their connection with Britain and either become an independent Socialist republic or to merge with the Republic in the South.

The counterpart, in America, of the IRB, was the Fenian Brotherhood, founded in America in 1858 by John O’Mahony and Michael Doheny (also a co-founder of the IRB). It was a precursor to the Clan na Gael, the later sister organisation to the IRB. The Fenian Brotherhood even attempted to invade Canada from America in 1866 and again from 1870-71 but failed.

Sinn Fein is another Irish republican-nationalist revolutionary organisation which was founded in 1905 by Irish journalist, Arthur Griffith. Its members founded the illegal Irish republic and its secret, illegal ‘parliament’ called, in Irish, Dail Eireann

The party later split after the bloody and brutal Irish Civil War of 1922-23, when Irishman slaughtered Irishman, and later, in 1970, split again. 

Sinn Fein has been closely linked with the IRA and the two certainly have cross-membership. They became the dominant Irish republican-nationalist revolutionary groups, both regularly condemned by the Roman Catholic Church until the Church, itself, began, in more recent times, to be more willing to parley with murderers and revolutionaries.

The members of all Irish republican-nationalist revolutionary groups tended, thereafter, to be called, collectively, ‘Fenians.’ All Fenians who claimed to be Catholics were condemned and excommunicated on 20 January 1870 by Blessed Pope Pius IX.

Historically, Fenians were at pains to conceal their true nature from the majority of their fellow countrymen, particularly in the days when most of the Irish were church-goers. Today, however, so many Irish people have lost their Catholic faith that Sinn Fein has become emboldened and openly embraces all the beliefs of fashionable secularism, socialism and even communism and atheism. Research on their website will reveal this, although they are careful to conceal their real aims. Like their ideological ancestors in the French Revolution, they often try to conceal their secularism and atheism by pretending that Catholicism and Marxism are compatible and have similar aims. This is an old trick of Marxist revolutionaries, and it found its particular theological embodiment in ‘liberation theology,’ which is simply Marxism with a religious face.

This form of politico-theological prestidigitation has been well played in Africa and Latin America leading to successful revolutions and the installing of utterly corrupt, brutal, tyrannical dictatorships all over both continents such as the one-party, neo-Marxist dictatorship over Zimbabwe of Jesuit-educated Robert Mugabe.

Many Irish Jesuits have been particularly notable in their support for revolution. Moreover, they have influenced other religious orders to move in the same direction. The Maryknoll Order was also among the most avid supporters of Marxist revolution in the Third World. 

In short, from being firm supporters of good and stable government, many Catholic religious orders, often those with a weighty Hibernian membership, have become among the most subversive. This is no accident. In the case of Irish religious orders, it flows out of the indoctrination that I mentioned above, a form of propaganda that is fed to Irish children, at home and at school, and has been for over a century.

It was not always so. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Irish bishops were firmly opposed to revolution and rebellion and particularly, of course, terrorism. David Moriarty (1844-1877), Bishop of Kerry, famously spoke out against the dangers of Irish rebellion, preaching a few weeks before the Fenian uprising of 1867, when he said publicly:

when we look down into the fathomless depths of the infamy of the heads of the Fenian conspiracy, we must acknowledge that eternity is not long enough nor hell hot enough for such miscreants.

No doubting the Bishop’s meaning there!

Now, however, so muddled in the minds of even Irish scholars has been the indoctrination they received as children, that many consider the ‘Repeal of the Union’ movement of the nineteenth century to have been a movement for Irish independence or even Irish republicanism. It was nothing of the kind.

The Repeal of the Union was a movement for Home Rule to repeal the Act of Union of 1800 which had abolished the Irish House of Commons and House of Lords and established direct rule from Westminster. Moreover, it was done in order to protect Catholics from a Protestant ascendancy, Irish Catholics then being disqualified from voting or sitting in the Irish Parliament.

It is also frequently forgotten that the origins of Irish nationalism lie, not with Catholics, but with radical Protestants who drew their inspiration from the French Revolution. 

The Irish rebellion of 1798 was led by men like Theobald Wolfe Tone, a Protestant barrister, who, after capture and before his trial for treason, cut his own throat. Other leaders were radical Anglicans like Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Thomas Emmet, William McNevin and Arthur O’Connor, or Presbyterians like Samuel Neilson and William Drennan and included many Ulster Presbyterians. They called their rebel body “the Society of United Irishmen” and their aims were to establish a republic along French revolutionary lines.

That, by the way, is why the Loyal Orange Order of today is called “loyal”: to distinguish it from the disloyal Protestant Orangemen who had supported the 1798 rebellion and the Society of United Irishmen.

The rebels led an uprising in Wicklow and Wexford as well as in the Northeast, in Antrim, a rebellion of mostly Presbyterian rebels under Henry McCracken. 

The 1798 rebellions (as also the 1803 rebellion led by Protestant rebel, Robert Emmet) were all suppressed by British forces, chiefly Yeomanry, 80% of which were Irish Catholic volunteers. During this period Irish rebels went from being Jacobites (who supported the legitimate, but illegally ousted, Royal Stuart dynasty, the latest of whom were Catholic, like King James II & VII) to being Jacobins, arch-enemies of monarchy, royalism and Catholicism and republican revolutionaries of the French kind.

The death of Prince James Francis Stuart, the son of King James, in 1766 led to Pope Clement XIII recognising the Protestant Hanoverian government of King George III (a much less anti-Catholic figure than his predecessors and himself born in England). The Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, also recognised King George III. 

Thereafter, most Jacobites in Britain and Ireland relinquished their hostility to the Hanoverians, particularly so after the American and French Revolutions which most saw as now the greater dangers.

Indeed, famously, Flora MacDonald, she who had protected and hidden Bonnie Prince Charlie, son of Prince James Francis Stuart, when he went into hiding after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 in which, on a moor in the northern Highlands of Scotland, the Jacobites were defeated, began to support the Hanoverian King George III against the French and American revolutionaries, recognising them as the greater danger.

Ironically, whilst most Catholics began to accept King George III, it was the Protestant Scottish Episcopalians who were most obstinate in refusing to do so, not finally relenting (and even then under protest) until the death of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1788. 

Soon thereafter, Scottish Catholics were allowed by the government to join fencible and reserve regiments of the British army, many having already done so during the American revolution. The American revolution was led by men who were Deists, Unitarians or, at most, Cromwellian Congregationalists and nearly all deeply anti-Catholic. 

It is one of the great ironies of history that Irish republican-nationalists, many of them baptised Catholics, should, in due course, come to look for support from a country that was so decidedly anti-Catholic in origin and remained hostile to Catholicism, particularly Irish Catholicism, even up to the time of the inauguration of its first Catholic president, Irish-descended John F. Kennedy, in 1961.

After Catholic emancipation in 1829, an achievement owing much to renowned Irish Catholic barrister and campaigner, Daniel O’Connell, Catholics were permitted to sit in the British Parliament, and so it now made sense for Catholics to seek Home Rule, the repeal of the Act of Union of 1800, and an Irish parliament once more in Dublin. Undoubtedly such a parliament would, after 1829, have been dominated by Irish Catholics, which is why many Irish Protestants, hostile to Catholicism, would repeat the slogan “Home Rule means Rome Rule.”

Home Rule would almost certainly have eventually been achieved purely by parliamentary and constitutional campaigning, and not by revolution, were it not for the revolutionaries, rebels, and terrorists whose constant agitation, bomb-throwing, murders, and uprisings made the government afraid of establishing a parliament in Dublin which might become a centre for further revolutionary activity. 

British Liberal Prime Minister, William Gladstone, for instance, came to favour Irish Home Rule and, with some difficulty, began to persuade his fellow countrymen that such was an aim worth pursuing. However, every time a Fenian terrorist threw a bomb or murdered a policeman he set back the cause of Home Rule by years, if not decades. Most British citizens were afraid that, if a home parliament were set up in Ireland, it would only encourage yet more terrorist acts by revolutionaries seeking yet more power.

Few now seem to know that the great Irish hero and campaigner for Home Rule, Daniel O’Connell, was a constitutionalist, through and through, and utterly repudiated violence, rebellion, and revolution. Moreover, he remained a life-long monarchist and an admirer of Queen Victoria. All he sought was Home Rule, an end to the oppression of Irish Catholics, and a measure of land reform—but only by constitutional and just means. It was because he eschewed violence and revolution that the rebels broke away from his campaign and began to form revolutionary groups like the Young Ireland movement. Moreover, the Young Ireland movement had far more Protestant leaders than Catholic, men such as Protestant barrister, Thomas Davis, Unitarian Protestant, John Mitchel, Protestant aristocrat and barrister, William Smith O’Brien, second son of Sir Edward O’Brien, 4th Baronet of Dromoland Castle.

Thomas Francis Meagher, raised a Catholic but turning rebel, later called “Meagher of the Sword” for his speech in 1846 advocating violent revolution, went to France in 1848 to study revolutionary methods and brought back the revolutionary tricolour. This same tricolour, with a simple change of colours, later became the revolutionary flag of the Young Ireland movement and, later still, the national flag of the Republic of Ireland. The tricolour was the chosen symbol of revolution all over Europe precisely because it had upon it no Christian cross; it was a deliberately secular symbol.

Today, one finds, all over Ireland, revolutionary war memorials inscribed with the words “liberty, equality, fraternity” the slogans, not of the Catholic religion, but of the French Revolution.

O’Connell and his party flatly condemned these revolutionaries.

One Young Ireland member, Thomas D’Arcy Magee, fled Ireland to avoid arrest and went to join the Fenians in America. However, Magee became so disgusted by the criminal mentality of the American Fenians that he left them, went to Canada, rediscovered his Catholic faith, became a devotee of Blessed Pope Pius IX and a fiercely loyal supporter of British rule in Canada and even in Ireland. He was one of the founders of the Canadian Confederation. Sadly, he was murdered by a Fenian assassin, Patrick Whelan, in 1868. He was given a state funeral, and 80,000 people attended it.

This was at the height of the Fenian agitations. A Fenian rising in Ireland, in 1867, was put down by the Royal Irish Constabulary (80% of whom were Irish Catholics) and, at the same time, American Fenians, with the connivance of the American government, had, as I mentioned, raised a small army and tried to invade British-ruled Canada (they were roundly defeated).

In Australia, Prince Alfred, second son of Queen Victoria, was the first royal to visit the colony. He was invited to the sailor’s picnic at Clontarf, Sydney, but was shot in the back by Fenian assassin, Henry O’Farrell, and narrowly avoided death. O’Farrell was tried, convicted, and hanged (although Prince Alfred appealed for clemency).

Once again, these murderous attempts merely served to put back the cause of Home Rule in Ireland still further, undermining and undoing all the patient constitutional work that O’Connell and his party had achieved.

Eventually, Home Rule was achieved, some 50 years later, with the Government of Ireland Act 1914, and once again it was the work of constitutionalists, in this case John Redmond and John Dillon, the leaders of the Irish Parliamentary Party at Westminster, now a substantial grouping. But, alas, the First World War intervened, and the Act had to be postponed.

Irishmen volunteered for the colours to serve in the British army so that, whilst there were two Irish divisions in the South, the 10th and the 16th, there was only one in the North, the 36th Ulster Division.

Subsequent developments in Ireland, including the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish Civil War, led to further postponement of Home Rule, and the 1914 Act never came into effect. Once again, the bomb-throwers and rebels had frustrated the cause of Home Rule.

In 1920, the Act had to be repealed altogether as Ireland was plunged into a bloody rebellion which ended with a treaty being negotiated with the British government by IRA assassin, Michael Collins, as plenipotentiary for the rebels and their secret Irish republican ‘parliament,’ Dail Eireann.

Collins signed the treaty setting up an Irish Free State within the British Empire, saying he was signing his own death warrant, for he knew how brutal and savage were his IRA and republican henchmen, not excluding the supposedly ‘Catholic’ Eamon de Valera. He knew their motivation was not peace but a secular Irish republic along Socialist lines. Indeed, rebel leaders like James Connolly (a Scotsman) were avowed Marxist communists. Others were not Marxists but, nevertheless, were willing tools of the Revolution.

No sooner had Collins returned to Ireland, putting the treaty to a vote in the secret Dail where it was approved by majority vote, than the supposedly ‘democratic’ de Valera and his supporters refused to accept the Dail’s decision and walked out. De Valera and his IRA men then started a brutal and bloody civil war (he eventually lost) in which Irishmen murdered Irishmen giving rise to the aphorism with which I opened this article.

The IRA then set out upon another campaign of assassination, murdering the Irish Free State Justice Minister, Kevin O’Higgins. The Free State government responded with actions that, if done by the preceding British government, would have provoked an outcry. They captured 11,000 IRA men and interned them in camps and tried, convicted, and sentenced 100 of them to be shot as traitors.

Imagine, if you will, what international reaction there would have been had the British government done such a thing.

De Valera got his revenge by conniving at the murder of his erstwhile friend and ally, Michael Collins, then the military leader of the Free State. The psychological wounds created by the Irish Civil War ran deeper even than the physical wounds and they continue to resonate to this very day.

In 1922, rather than Home Rule being introduced, Ireland was divided into two: the South became a secular republic, and the North (Ulster) remained part of the United Kingdom.

Eventually Sinn Fein and the IRA became too much even for de Valera, and he abandoned them in 1926 to set up a new party, Fianna Fail (the Soldiers of Destiny), later, as leader of that party, becoming Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and then President of the Free State. 

De Valera sought to introduce into the Irish Constitution, in 1937, a few cosmetic ‘sops’ to the Catholic religion, recognising the “special position” (no more than that) of the Catholic religion but this was later removed by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution in 1973. It was, in any case, no more than what secularists did (and do) whenever they took over a country that was predominantly Catholic so as to appease the majority. Their long-term aim, as always, was the eventual and complete secularisation of the state.

This ruse succeeded entirely in Ireland. Irish Catholics kidded themselves that they had a ‘Catholic’ constitution when, in fact, it was no more Catholic than the many secular constitutions that secularists had imposed in Latin America and in other continents. Irish Catholics fell for the deceit, hook, line, and sinker. Ireland had simply exchanged a Christian monarchy (albeit Protestant) for a completely secular republic. The secularists, in line with the aims of their world-wide movement, had scored a resounding victory over once Catholic Ireland.

Soon the chickens would come home to roost so that, in our time, Ireland is now fast turning into a militantly secularist, anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, and revolutionary nation.

However, it was not de Valera who declared the Republic in 1948 and left the British Commonwealth altogether. It was his political opponent, John Costello, leader of Fine Gael, a party closely associated with the Irish Fascist movement, the so-called ‘Blue Shirts,’ and sympathetic to both Hitler and Mussolini. 

Costello, whilst on a trip to Canada, simply declared a republic, doing so without consulting the British government or even many of his own cabinet, let alone the Irish people. It is said that he became so annoyed at constant demonstrations by Canadian Empire Loyalists, that accompanied his many visits and speeches around Canada, that he decided to declare an Irish republic, without consulting properly, as a standing rebuke to these Loyalist demonstrators.

Frederick Henry Boland, Secretary of the Free State Department of External Affairs, said caustically that the affair demonstrated that “the Taoiseach has as much notion of diplomacy as I have of astrology.”

From the creation of this entirely secular republic until the present day, Ireland has been on a downward slope toward increasing secularism and abandonment of its Catholic past and history. Sinn Fein, more or less dormant ever since it was abandoned by de Valera in 1926, apart from a few desultory attempts to attack police stations in the 1950s led by rebels like Sean South (considered by many to be a neo-Fascist anti-Semite), obtained a new lease of life with the commencement of ‘the Troubles’ in the 1960s.

The British army was sent into Northern Ireland to protect Catholics and nationalists from increasing attacks. However, a new set of republican-nationalist revolutionaries seized upon the arrival of the army to foment the old battles all over again. This was despite the fact that the British army had been sent in to to assist nationalists. 

Soon, the British army found itself facing terror attacks by the new gunmen of the IRA, supported or led by Sinn Fein men like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, who would later become leaders of the republican-nationalist separatist movement seeking to force Ulster, by bombings and assassinations, into becoming an unwilling part of the Irish republic. Most Catholics in Northern Ireland wholly repudiated the gunmen of the IRA, but terror has a way of silencing even the majority.

Sinn Fein and the IRA were thereby re-born, and they re-commenced their campaign to seize and secularise Northern Ireland, aiming to withdraw it from Britain’s Christian monarchy and force it to become, or join, a secular republic.

From the start, Sinn Fein and the IRA were avowedly neo-Marxist organisations. They reprised the old deceit that Communism and Christianity were, via liberation theology, entirely compatible. In reality, their aim was (and still is) to secularise Ireland completely, to marginalise religion wholly from public life, particularly Catholicism, and to create a Socialist state along neo-Marxist lines.

We know the rest: violence, murder, knee-capping, bombing, and mayhem returned to Ireland and to the mainland as the IRA targeted British leaders, including, famously, Margaret Thatcher, in the Brighton bombing.

And we know what communism and Marxism do to any country unfortunate enough to fall under their sway. It means utter ruination of the economy, the abolition of freedom, the crushing and oppression of the people, a police state watched over by secret agents, a brutal military, massive inflation, widespread unemployment, chronic food shortages, starvation, disease, illiteracy, death from curable diseases, lack of elementary supplies, and grinding poverty and misery for the majority of the population whilst the apparatchiks enrich themselves beyond the dreams of avarice.

One need only look at Zimbabwe and Venezuela to see two contemporary examples, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia for a particularly brutal historical one. 

This is where Sinn Fein, if not prevented, will take Ireland in the future. As with so many neo-Marxist regimes, they have managed, by utterly deceitful propaganda, to mislead the people into thinking that they are going to establish a reign of justice, freedom, and prosperity for all. But the reality is always very, very different. Far from creating a heaven on earth, Marxists only ever succeed in creating a ghastly hell-hole.

But Sinn Fein have now managed to deceive the Irish people with the kind of propaganda so much associated with Communist agitprop. They have been greatly aided and abetted by the collapse of confidence in the Roman Catholic Church worldwide and by the appalling clerical child abuse crisis in Ireland. The upshot has been a huge wave of anti-clericalism in Ireland so that, in some places, priests wearing clerical clothes are spat upon in the streets.

This is a gift to the secularist Marxists of Sinn Fein, and they have exploited it to the full. Ireland is now poised to become a completely secularist country and the once powerful Catholic Church to be marginalised utterly. Sinn Fein endorses the full range of secularist and neo-Marxist polices: abortion rights, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, undermining marriage and family, as well as favouring the violence and revolution of the IRA.

But the real reason why Sinn Fein is making the running and may go on to take eventual control in both North and South is simply because Ireland has been on a downward path to secularism for a very long time, the more so since the Republic was declared in 1948. In the current climate, Sinn Fein’s brand of neo-Marxist secularism, abetted by deceitful propaganda of the kind at which Communists excel, has been able to hoodwink a great many Irish voters into supporting their neo-Marxist policies.

Having before our very eyes the results of what happens to a country when its government is taken over by a neo-Marxist revolutionary elite, unless the Irish voters wake up before it is too late, Ireland is headed in a direction that could end by imperilling its freedom, its prosperity, it safety and security and, indeed, render it into a state far worse than anything that British rule ever imposed upon it, even in its darkest days.

James Bogle is a barrister, historian and writer.

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