Almery Tessarolo, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Junior First Minister Jennifer McCann

Almery Tessarolo, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Junior First Minister Jennifer McCann

Almery Tessarolo, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Junior First Minister Jennifer McCann, November 2013


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April 1, 2014 · 1:18 am

More Sunday Independent cartoons from the Dublin Lockout.

Amusing cartoons from the Sunday Independent!!

Come Here To Me!

A recent post looking at some cartoons printed in the Sunday Independent during the Lockout proved popular, and in reality the cartoons we selected were only a small percentage of those that appeared in the publication. Cartoons were a form of propaganda used by both sides in the dispute, and these cartoons always ran on the front page of the newspaper. All the cartoons I have chosen for this post come from 1914, as the dispute dragged into that year before ending in failure for Larkin’s movement. The cartoons are the work of Frank Rigney, cartoonist with the Sunday Independent.

This cartoon from the month of February focused on the issue of pay for DMP men. The role of the DMP in the dispute, and in particular the events of Bloody Sunday in August 1913, ensured that their place in Dublin folk memory would not be as a revered force…

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Consociationalism, sectarianism and society.

On my previous post, i made the case of explaining the basics of consociationalism, because the truth of the matter is that, consociationalism itself is not a very well known notion outside the territories that use the system.

As it usually happens, talking about theory doesn’t really show how it will actually work in practise, and this has to do with the fact that there is always external agents that we are generally unable to control/predict their behaviour. The best example of this, is Society.

Society is the object on which elite politics and the institutional fix is overlain. Both approaches (integrationists and consociationalists )decouple their defence from a contextualisation of consociationalism, assuming that the forms and structures of the deeply divided society in Northern Ireland are inherently self-evident, and, importantly, that the societal divisions are somehow predetermined and set. The nature of the societal divisions, and how they are reflected in socio-economic structures and everday realities, is fundamental to the debate about the “root cause” of the conflict, and therefore fundamental to evaluating the outcome of the conflict. Social processes are dynamic. The nature of the deeply divided society in Northern Ireland is in flux, and new social factors, such as new immigrants, are in play. Consequently, we cannot evaluate the Agreement without taking account of this social dynamism.

For the argument that the Belfast Agreement of 1998 is the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973 redux, suggests that the nature of the social divisions are static. Is the divided society in Northern Ireland fixed or in flux?. Also, by analysing social dynamism we may be better positioned to evaluate some of the elite discourse and mindsets about the outcome of the peace process. In particular, there is a swelling elite discourse around the notion that Northern Ireland is a “model” of conflict resolution – but what kind of “model” is it? The elite discourse shares many of the same obsessions as those in academia with technocratic fixes to social disequilibrium and violent conflict, and the objectification of society in Northern Ireland.

As its been perceived many times, The Belfast Agreement is seen as historic precisely because it is presented in a manner to bring to a conclusion not just the thirty years conflict in Northern Ireland, but also the deeper historical ethnonational conflict between British and Irish identities. The political rhetoric of the elites about the Agreements reveals that they perceive the outcome as a kind of “end of history”, where nationalist antagonisms have been transcended. Although the Belfast Agreement itself recognised that changing society was a critical element of stabilisation, its content in this area was rhetorical.

We could interpret the Agreement in a positivist frame by understanding it as a sequenced, two-stage solution to the conflict: achieve elite accommodation first, and society will follow (though the erosion of the parallel living of the two communities was seen as a much longer term project). Whereas the minutiae of the governing institutions, security arrangements, and the relationships between the UK and Ireland were detailed, no such policy specifications were made for societal transformation. This kind of elitist institutionalist approach is intrinsic to the core thinking underlying consociationalism. For Lijphart, one of the first scholars to introduce consociationalism, “accommodation” was a value that was to be understood first and foremost as a “spirit of accommodation” between the elites involved in making the consociational institutions work.

However, we can examine the challenge of social transformation in a segregated society along several key dimensions: housing, education, public service provision, culture, and employment, among others. There is a general recognition that the two key pillars of the parallel communities – housing and education – are durable features of Northern Ireland‟s divided society.

Let us explore one of the key dimensions – housing segregation – as a means of illustrating some of the bigger questions about cause and effect in the conflict. Segregation implies a strong emotive content to social values but it may be driven by many factors, including cultural distance and mutual repulsion, racism, and most obviously in a conflict zone, by fear, anxiety, risk and insecurity. It is seen as a negative social phenomenon that embeds and reinforces mutual ignorance, which in turn both may consolidate the support of hardliners and conflict entrepreneurs, and also be manipulated by such groups.

So how does consociationalism helps to modifying the core of sectarianism? Thats the subject of my next post!

See you later, alligators!!

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Consociationalism… the KEY to the new Northern Ireland?

Talking about consociationalism, is for some an abstract concept, and the reason is that only in very particular places we can talk about this very specific form of government and get away with it without any further explanation.

In simple words, Consociationalism is a form or government involving guaranteed group representation, and is often suggested for managing conflict in deeply divided societies. It is often viewed as synonymous with power-sharing, although it is technically only one form of power-sharing.

This was the key for the success of the northern irish peace process this time around, although those familiar to the Sunningdale agreement (and consider the good friday agreement is only “Sunningdale for dummies”) have been familiar with the basics of this term for a long time now.

But why does consociationalism work? why is there so much opposition to it?

This form of government is to some the end of integrationist, and to others, only the beginning. I tend to agree with the latter.

Integrationists, who passionately oppose consociationalism, argue that the structure brought by that form of government doesn’t really leave room for new ways of reorganising society because the core of this system lays in the fact that political parties are divided according to the social/ethnic/religious divisions there are in said society, which clearly will remain so for as long as the system is implemented.

Consociationalists on the other hand, consider that in deep divided societies such as northern ireland, the only way forward to get a peaceful structure of government that will continue and that, ultimately will be able to rule without terrorism ready to act every time a sector doesn’t feel rightfully represented in the making of a bill. And this has been proven through 30 hard years of struggle, where governments that didn’t include the political arm of “liberation groups” only made room for more violence.

The reality of the matter is that, after 9 years since the “final peace” was sign, the north has done nothing but move forward. Granted, maybe slower than other countries, but the fact that the system alone is working proves integrationists wrong.

On my next post, i will specify where the future of northern ireland will be leading us, thanks to consociationalism.

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The TRUTH Behind Partition III: The Government of Ireland Act of 1920

Okay, before i start ranting, i would like for you to take 2 seconds to read one of the most important points of the Government of Ireland act of 1920:


AN ACT to provide for the better Government of Ireland[1].
[23rd December 1920.]


Establishment of Parliament of Northern Ireland.

  1. On and after the appointed day[2] there shall be established for Northern Ireland a Parliament to be called the Parliament of Northern Ireland consisting of His Majesty, the Senate of Northern Ireland, and the House of Commons of Northern Ireland.
  2. For the purposes of this Act[3], Northern Ireland shall consist of the parliamentary counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone, and the parliamentary boroughs of Belfast and Londonderry. * * * [1] Applies to N.I. only, 13 Geo. 5. sess. 2. c. 2. s. 1.


I think its essencial to establish that the partition of the north was planned since the Government of Ireland act of 1914 (also known as the third home rule bill) if not before.

One of the famous quotes of the time was indeed “Home Rule means Rome Rule”  ….but what to do with the settlers?

There was a long haul from the land wars of the late 1870’s to the first home rule bill to the Governmet of Ireland Act of 1920 . Some might say that partition was inevitable, others think it would have been best to move the settlers back to england/scotland forgetting that those were second or third generation settlers and that would have been impossible at the time.

From a revisionist point of view, i believe, partition was inevitable. The question that remains is… what would have been the better option in this situation?


Refs. to Southern Ireland are included only when required to explain the context.
[2] 3.5.1921, S.R. & O. 1921, No. 533 (Rev. vol. XVI. p. 933.
[3] The extent of N.I., as fixed by this sub. s., was confirmed by the Agreement 3.12.1925, see art. 1. of sch. to 15 & 16 Geo. 5. c. 77.


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The TRUTH behind Partition (Part II)

Right so here we are…

On my last post, i presented what i believe are the 3 (immediate) points that led to partition.

Yes, it’s true that we would certainly have to go way back to the Ulster Plantation to fully understand the reasons why partition was even conceived on the first place BUT, since I’m trying to make these articles bareable for those who want to understand what happened but maybe are not really that keen on reading 300 pages on one go, i will divide the issue in “contemporary” reasons and “the rest”.

Today i will talk more specifically about the prelude to the Government of Ireland Act of 1920.

To this day, i dont understand WHY people relate the Anglo Irish Treaty with partition, when this issue was decided not only a year before(if not earlier on with the last home rule act), but only spoken about (at the AIT negotiations) in secret meetings between lloyd george and arthur griffith on the early meetings in london without michael collins knowledge on the matter. (I’m pointing this out for those who take the film Michael Collins as “actual history”. It is fair to say that when it comes to explaining the treaty that film is an epic fail)

The first time i understood the depths of what went on between 1917 and 1921 was while i was reading the book  “Michael Collins and the Treaty:  his differences with de Valera” by T. Ryle Dwyer. I highly recommend this book for those who want to get the full story about the relationship between the two and the negotiations of the AIT.

There are very few politicians that are remembered for their greatness in the XX Century, and for those of us who are deep into Geopolitics and strategy, names like Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and Chamberlain are definitly between those that can be called the “Titans” in the world of politics.

Those 3 men were political geniouses and they knew their way around the irish politicians. I truly believe this is one of the reasons why de Valera declined to meet up with Lloyd George several times before negotiations were even conceived and the times they did meet, most issues ended up unresolved. De Valera would not give in under pressure (some would even argue the levels of hostility that led de Valera to decline joining the delegation that went over to london to discuss the AIT (among other strategic reasons, obviously).

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The truth behind partition (Part I)

A couple of years ago i did a very thorough research regarding the influence of mass media on the general public, more specifically how the lack of proper education and misleading films affected younger generations who took certain films/tv series as historical facts.

Films like Michael Collins and Braveheart (and the devil’s own) were some of the most regarded ones when it came down to irish history (even though braveheart tells the story of a scottish attempt for independence from the english, but anyway..)

The area i chose to do the research was east Boston, obviously for its historical background (having one of the most “irish” populated areas in the united states AND due to the fact that a couple of years back, a journalist from the BBC had been attacked by a gang of so called american “IRA freedom fighters” who were “defending the right for irish freedom under british rule”

Suffice to say, i was shocked by the lack of knowledge these kids had that were fighting for a cause that was “long ago” settled. Sorta.

When i asked them about unionists, most of them (i will have to upload my statistics) didn’t have a clue who they were; all they did “know” was that the IRA (not the Provos or RIRA) was fighting a righteous cause for freedom and they would do “whatever it takes” to keep the “fight” alive.

Since some of them were actual gangsters i was in NO position to throw a book at them and shout “GET A CLUE!!!!!”. Instead i decided to congratulate them on their “fight for freedom” recommend a few somewhat objective films (no way they were gonna actually read something) and get the hell out of there.

Even though this is a very extreme example, it is true that most people influenced by tv series or films (plus the fact that most historians make the historical facts kinda long and boring to read) end up not really getting the whole story, specially when it comes to partition (in my opinion one of them most important turning points in irish history).

So.. whats the TRUTH behind partition, what really happen?

First thing i’m gonna say is.. FORGET ABOUT THE FILM MICHAEL COLLINS. It’s absolutely misleading about the actual facts. I’m not a Dev lover, but any rational human being knows nothing is SO black or white as that film tries to portray.

To understand partition, we need to go a bit further back the declaration of independence of 1916 and talk about home rule (i know, most people find this kinda boring).

Now, to make it clear enough, i’m gonna mention the 3 most historically important moments that lead to partition:

1- Home Rule Act (attempt n3) of 1914


3- Anglo Irish treaty of 1921 under the section of the boundary commission.


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