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Socialist Review Index (1993–1996) | Socialist Review 184 Contents

Peter Mulligan


Through English eyes


From Socialist Review, No. 184, March 1995
Copyright © Socialist Review.
Copied with thanks from the Socialist Review Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


What on earth are you trying to say about Ireland? Heading for Divorce by Goretti Horgan (January SR) presents Ireland as some religious and sexually repressed nation. The comments would not be out of place as an editorial in the Times following the recent scandal of the Catholic priest involved in child abuse. Indeed it would be even better placed as an editorial in the Belfast Telegraph to justify the Tory/Unionist demand for partition. How could they possibly want to be involved with the tragic and pathetic picture painted of Ireland by Goretti Horgan?

But surely half of this is what the English want to see in Ireland. A former colony that has broken away from the empire cannot be truly based on self interest. The constant reference to tenant farmers, without reference to who the landlords are, leaves the reader with an incomplete picture.

Goretti Horgan did not tell us that when the Irish gained their independence by force of arms (led by many socialists including James Connolly) Britain maintained an economic blockade against Ireland just as the US currently has against Cuba. The new Irish government had, in those days at least, no alternative but to turn to the church and volunteer Republican teachers for help in running the schools and even more importantly the hospitals.

The new republic with its faults would not have lasted very long without the politically motivated and religiously motivated help of those working for the new republic. We seem to expect that out of the turmoil of working class revolution, and that is what it was, there will arise some kind of perfection.

Revolution and reaction existed side by side. The revolutionary side carried the day, perhaps not in the shape we would all desire. Sure Ireland is a Catholic country. So are Italy, Poland, France and many others. They all have their problems but they are not Britain’s problems. They are the problems of that particular country.

Ireland fought for its independence against the strongest empire in the world. It won that independence. Ireland is a sovereign state. Nobody in the current government went to Eton. There is no House of Lords. The judges are not called right honourable or lords. They speak the same as everybody in the street.

The class system does not exist like it exists in Britain. Ireland still has the potential to complete the unfinished revolution.

Britain for its part is still a monarchy. It still has a House of Lords and it still has an upstairs and downstairs mentality. Perhaps the imperial mentality still exists and perhaps Goretti Horgan is catering for this dream of lost empires.


Peter Mulligan

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