Points To Consider On The Irish Question

© 2017 Tom Rogers

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Points to consider. The following is in no particular order, though I will try to re-group the topics thematically at some stage.


What are the historical roots of the conflict in Northern Ireland?

How were (and are) the paramilitaries and main political parties financed?

Which business people supported the paramilitaries?

Why Ireland? Why didn’t other Gaelic separatists - the Scottish, Welsh, Cornish or Breton nationalists - become violent on the organised scale that the Irish did? Why, on the other hand, did the Basque separatists pursue a similar violent strategy, like the IRA?

What were the ideological, philosophical, methodological and ethnic differences within Irish Republicanism and Ulster Loyalism respectively?

What were the links between Northern Ireland paramilitaries and political movements in Britain and Ireland, and other countries?

What was the relationship between Irish Republicans and foreign separatists, including the Basques?

To what extent are the IRA and Sinn Fein ‘socialists’ and ‘Marxists’?

What was the organisational structure of the IRA?

Does the IRA still exist?

To what extent did the southern Irish aid the IRA?

Were working class Catholics the biggest victims of the IRA? What did ‘armalite and ballot box’ mean? Was it a community intimidation strategy used by the IRA against their own people, or a wider political strategy?

What is the political significance of the Irish language, if any?

Are the founding myths of Irish victimhood – Cromwell, the Great Hunger, Bloody Sunday – in any sense well-founded or even true?

Why did Ireland become a weaker and less-developed country than England and the rest of Britain (including, later, Northern Ireland)?

Was Ireland a Third World country during the 20th. century?

Was post-independence Ireland just a client state of the UK?

Why does Sinn Fein support liberal internationalism?

What is the difference, in an Irish context, between Nationalism and Republicanism?

Are Sinn Fein Nationalist or Neo-Nationalist?

Are the Irish in fact just another British nationality? Is ‘Irishness’ any more distinct from Britishness than Englishness is?

How Irish are the Irish?

How Irish are the British?

How British are the Irish?

Which were the English ‘republican’ towns? Luton, Rochdale, parts of north-east Leeds, Manchester, etc. What was their role in the Troubles?

What effect did Irish migration have on England? Are white English working class social problems a legacy of Irish migration in the 19th. century? Are the white English underclass descendents of the migrating Irish?

What is the significance of the Irish-descended English in support for the Labour Party? Does this section of the English population tend to vote for the Left?

What was the significance of sectarianism in Scotland to the Troubles?

What is the appeal of Ireland to the English Left? Does Ireland provide a model for a possible ‘republican’ Britain?

Should the Provisional Republican strategy in the Troubles be reconceptualised as Red Terror?

What was the nature of the Troubles? Was it an ethno-religious struggle or a purely economic struggle projected on to ethnic and religious tensions? Or something else?

How complicit were the British and Irish governments in the Troubles? Did the police, intelligence and security services of the two states – especially the British – collude with paramilitaries on either side or both?

Was there collusion or co-operation between the two sides of the paramilitaries? For instance, did the IRA and the UVF ever meet and reach agreements or accords?

Are the Troubles still ongoing? Are devolved politics a continuation of the Troubles by other means? If so, can Northern Ireland move beyond the ethno-sectarian divisions and ‘normalise’ its politics?

Is Northern Irish ‘normalisation’ a false objective? Can any politics be ‘normalised’ and homogenised? Should it be?

Has the British policy of Ulsterisation entrenched political sectarianism?

Were there ethnic divisions within the IRA and other paramilitaries?

What was the role of Protestants and even British people within the IRA and the wider Republican struggle?

Why did the English militant Left aid Irish Republicans?

Was the ‘armed struggle’ necessary?

What were (and are) the ethics of armed struggle?

How significant was the role of Martin McGuinness in the Troubles and in post-Troubles Northern Ireland and wider Ireland and Britain?

Why did Adams and McGuinness advocate a political strategy for the IRA?

Was Martin McGuinness a British agent?

Were Adams and McGuinness as perspicacious as they appeared to be, or were they being played all along by the British?

How dirty was Britain’s Dirty War against the IRA?

To what extent did the Troubles 'happen'? Was it mostly just a virtual media event or state-created 'strategy of tension', or both, that left the main population of Northern Ireland largely unaffected?

What were the major socio-political antecedent factors of Provisional IRA violence? Can the Provisionals be considered in the context of the Catholic civil rights struggle or the Years of Lead or a combination of these or something else? Or was 'Provisionalism' and its violent militancy a natural development out of the IRA's own history?