View Full Version : The Irish Resistance & The Black Martyr

lord patch
04-27-2007, 12:37 PM
The Irish Resistance & The Black Martyr

The Irish Resistance
Nasser Mashadi - 07/03/2007 - 22:53 | Hits: 296


And you dare to call me a terrorist, while you look down your guns!

"Resistance(1) to a foreign force's violations of a country's
sovereignty has always been a religious and moral right intimately
related to the human right to life, dignity and freedom."

Alia Youseff's statement is well illustrated by the history of Ireland
and its people. Having been a centre of European Christian
civilisation (2) for several centuries, the Irish found themselves
marginalized and threatened by the Roman Church and the newly evolving
feudal system. The Norman conquerors of England and Wales brought this
alien system to the doorstep of Ireland.

The invasion of Ireland by the Norman king of England Henry II in
1169, started centuries of conflict between England, [and its
political successor the United Kingdom] and the Irish people for the
control of Ireland. The Norman led armies from England and Wales and
the subsequent invaders upholding the English monarch's rule in
Ireland, found a vigorous indigenous culture, with its own legal
system, the Brehon Law, which was a subtle as anything created by the
English, Normans or any other people.

The emphasis of Brehon Law on the collective ownership of natural
resources, and the payment of taxes to support the welfare of the poor
(3), is both Christian and Islamic. The feudal concept of absolute
ownership of land was never fully accepted by the Irish whose
indigenous system gave the clan leaders a trusteeship over land on
behalf of the whole clan.
The legitimate right to resist England's rule in Ireland has been a
constant theme of Irish rebels, be it by constitutional or military
means (4). Often the right of the overwhelming majority of Irish
people, who lived by agriculture, to the land of Ireland itself, was
the origin of these resistance movements.

Irish resistance was expressed through a network of secret societies,
carrying out violent reprisals against oppressive landlords and their
exploitative agents and middlemen. These societies such as the "White
boys ", so-called because of the long white shirts they wore (5),
reflected the rage of the peasant farmers and labourers at their

If the land wars were a bitter stream running through Irish history,
no less was religious discrimination. As the Norman rulers of England
had enforced the feudal Latin Church on the clannish Irish Christians,
the later British rulers made the established Protestant Anglican
Church the official religion of Ireland as it was in England. This was
the religion of a minority of settlers, who had been planted in
Ireland by the English rulers. The great mass of the Irish by staying
within the Catholic Church found themselves without political or civil
rights. Those who preferred unofficial Protestant churches, such as
the Presbyterian sect favoured by most of the Scottish settlers in the
northern province of Ulster, were similarly subject to discrimination.

The discontent of the oppressed peasants and disenfranchised urban
artisans and merchants, made fertile ground for republicanism, the
revolutionary doctrine being articulated by the American Founding
Fathers, in the last decades of the 18th century (6) The stage was set
for the United Irishmen the first of a succession of revolutionary
republican movements, whose courageous but unsuccessful attempts at
military over throw of the British rulers, inspired new generations to
carry on resisting (7).

Theobold Wolf Tone the most prominent leader of the 1798 rebellion of
the United Irishman had a clear view of how democracy and religion
complimented one another:

"The rights of man in Ireland (8) . The greatest happiness of the
greatest number. The rights of man are the rights of God and to
vindicate one is to maintain the other. We must be free in order to
serve Him whose service is perfect freedom"

These political ideas were more dangerous to the British Empire than
the abortive risings of the ill trained and poorly equipped "United
men". The United Irishmen had a political vision, which linked them to
revolutionaries in France and America and oppressed people in England,
Scotland and beyond. Of more immediate danger to British rule was
that supporters of the United Irishmen came from all the Christian
sects. The British were determined to encourage religious divisions
amongst Irish people, to weaken the appeal of republicanism. The
anti-Catholic Orange Order (9) became an important factor in helping
the British divide and rule in Ireland.

With the defeat of the United Irishmen and the suppression of the
secret societies, some turned to constitutional methods. Wealthy but
disenfranchised Catholics successfully won the right to be MPs
[Members of Parliament]. They formed a succession of Irish Parties
within the British Parliament. Some of these Irish MP's merely
defended the interests of the wealthy minority, others like Charles
Stewart Parnell, although a wealthy Protestant landlord himself, stood
up for the rights of the tenant farmers.

Many wanted to shoot those who evicted tenants, or moved onto their
land. Parnell said ostracising them was more Christian. One of first
to be defeated by this tactic was a ruthless land agent Captain
Boycott, who evicted poor tenants from the lands of Lord Erne. Captain
Boycott, even with the support of pro-British Orangeman and the
British Army its self, failed to overcome the servants, labourers,
tradesmen and shop keepers who refused to work for him, or trade with
him. Thus the tactic of "boycotting" was born, and has been a vital
weapon in the armoury of resistance movements ever since.

Attempts to alleviate the oppression of tenant farmers were partially
successful, when the British parliament conceded certain rights to
them, including the right and means to buy their own farms.
Republicans still wanted the land and natural resources to belong to
people, and the country to be an independent republic. A more modest
demand for Ireland to have a measure of Home Rule while staying within
the British Empire, was continually undermined by the Conservative
Party and their political allies in the Orange Order and the British

A small band of men including the secret military Irish Republican
Brotherhood and the revolutionary socialists of the Citizens Army
carried out a series of risings in Easter 1916. The crass brutality of
the British government's subsequent suppression turned the rebels from
an unpopular band of hotheads into national heroes. Although the
rebels political front Sinn Fein won the vast majority of Irish seats
in the 1919 parliamentary election, the new national assembly they
created was not recognised by the British or their Irish allies. The
first meeting of this Assembly called the Dail Eireann passed a
Declaration of Independence.

A bloody and exhausting revolutionary war, followed by a civil war
between hard line republicans and "Free Staters" failed resolve
Irelands problems, and led to a typical imperial solution, the
partition of the land into two states reflecting narrow sectarian
traditions rather than broad republican virtues. The six counties of
"Northern Ireland" remained part of the United Kingdom, a Protestant/
Unionist dominated canton run in contradiction to the principles of
proportional representation agreed between the British and the

The recent unsuccessful attempt by republicans to drive the British
out of the six counties of Northern Ireland, has led most republicans
to put aside their weapons and try to pursue a purely political
campaign. While Northern Ireland's Unionist leaders refuse to sit
around the table with the republicans of Sinn Fein, the success of
this political phase of the struggle is far from sure.

The history of Irish resistance and its use of legal and
constitutional methods, as well military campaigns, is rich source
of instruction and inspiration for all those struggling for
liberation. Irish republicans certainly reciprocate by showing
solidarity with all those in struggle against imperialism. Wall murals
in Republican areas of

Northern Ireland depict international fighters such as Nelson Mandela
and Malcolm X as well as Irish revolutionaries and martyrs.

Mural of Malcolm X (10)

Quote from Al Hajj Malik al Shabbaz [Malcolm X] on the Republican mural.

"We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be
respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in
this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring
into existence by any means necessary."

Patrick Pearse's oration at the funeral of O'Donovan Rossa, August 1st, 1915

"Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women
spring living nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in
secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland.
They think that they have pacified half of us and intimidated the
other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that
they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the
fools! - they have left us our Fenian dead - And while Ireland holds
these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace."

Lyrics to the song Joe Mc Donnell [an Irish Republican who died while
on hunger strike in 1981] by the Wolf Tones (11):

"And you dare to call me a terrorist, while you look down your guns,

When I think of all the deeds that you have done.

You have plundered many nations, divided many lands,

You have terrorised our people, you ruled with your iron hand,

And you brought this reign of terror to my land. "

(1) The Right to Resist Under International Law Alia Youssef

(2) Nothing but the same old story: Liz Curtis states " Students from
all over Europe attended Ireland's famous medical and religious
A History of the Irish Working Class: P. Berresford Ellis

(3) Whereas the Irish People is by right a free people And whereas for
seven hundred years the Irish People has never ceased to repudiate and
has repeatedly protested in arms against foreign usurpation.

(4) The Declaration of Independence enacted by the Parliament of the
Republic of Ireland 21st January 1919

(5) The purpose of the white shirt was so that they could recognise
one another in the dark, according to Neill O'Donnell

(6) see http://english.wa3ad.org/index.php?show=news&action=article&id=1073
"a government by its citizens in mass, acting directly and personally,
according to rules established by the majority."

(7) Patrick Pearse's oration at the funeral of veteran republican
O'Donovan Rossa, in August 1st, 1915 is a classic example of this.
"Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women
spring living nations "

(8) WHAT IS IRISH REPUBLICANISM? By Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President Sinn
Féin http://www.rsf.ie/irishrep.htm

(9) "Orangeism, the ideology which promotes and protects Protestant
domination over Catholics in Ireland, reaches back many centuries, and
for most of the history of Modern Ireland, has been the basis of
official state policy" A Brief History of Orangeism in Ireland by
Jacqueline Dana http://larkspirit.com/general/orangehist.html

(10) http://www.dannymorrison.ie/gallery/CRAZYFENIAN/Human_rights

(11) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ybcgc8BQlQQ