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‘A terrible ignorance’ – By Brian John Spencer

Easter, 1916 – a terrible beauty was born. It had a dark and little seen twin; a terrible ignorance of the people of the North. South of the border, the Easter Rising is almost universally acclaimed. A singular understanding of history imposed, and a singular way of being Irish understood. Professor Michael Laffan wrote: “When I…

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How right Leon Uris was when he said of Ireland: “There is no future: just history repeating itself.” Brian John Spencer reflects…

George Bernard Shaw portended Northern Ireland as “an autonomous political lunatic asylum”. How right he was. I’m not sure that was the creator’s intention, however. The ideals of Easter 1916 are well known, but the ideals of Edward Carson were just as high; he wanted every Irishman to enjoy the rights and liberties enjoyed by…

Seeing through a shut eye

  In the 1960s Gerry Fitt, the icon of Northern nationalism, identified the Achilles heel of unionism – its professed devotion to ‘British standards’. These ‘British standards’ of fairness, opportunity and equality didn’t apply to the Catholic minority. As long as this discrepant thread existed and was picked at, the unionist monopoly was doomed. Fitt…

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‘The North Began’ declared Eoin MacNeill… Brian John Spencer asks ‘Amidst 1916 celebrations has the South forgotten?’

A torrent of letters, books and articles have discussed the Easter Rising and Ireland at the one hundred year milestone. As a northern protestant* I welcome the breadth of the debate and the courtesy that is afforded the non-orthodox voice. However, much work remains. The northern Catholic is semi-eclipsed, and the northern protestant remains entirely…

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‘The Class of 1916′ by Brian John Spencer

The rebels of 1916 came from all ranks of society, but a majority were lower-middle-class. In a time of high unemployment, the vast majority of the rebels were employed. David McWilliams wrote, “most were from the class that Marx would describe as the hated petit bourgeois.” The Irish rebellion of 1916 was a moment precipitated…

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Edward Carson, father of the Irish revolution? 

How can unionists condemn a rebellion when they threatened rebellion? During a recent discussion on BBC Spotlight on the Easter Rising, Jim Allister of the TUV said the Ulster Covenant was an “entirely peaceful exercise”. He was responding to David Ford who said it was a “seditious document”. Like the leader of the Alliance party,…

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‘Them’uns get away with everything’ … by Brian John Spencer

In 2011 a study at Harvard and Tufts found that white people in America, on average, believed that anti-white racism was a bigger problem than anti-black racism. Perception is different from reality. Further research showed that this perception, of black privilege, was bogus. The reality is that the white community still enjoy many privileges and…

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‘Republicans have done a unionism’ argues Brian Spencer

We’re all unionists now. Being a member of a group of nations that pools power and decision-making is all the vogue. For unionists, having a partition between east and west is abominable as partition between north and south, and between Ireland and Europe is, for nationalists. Being Irish and British, British and Irish is, for…