Mr. Cronin’s book raises a fascinating subject: ideology in Irish nationalism. His own treatment of the subject is unsatisfactory, but he deserves some credit for making the attempt. In this article I propose to consider his treatment, briefly, and then the subject in itself, at some length.

Mr. Cronin’s book is based on a PhD thesis for the New School for Social Research, New York. In his introduction he tells us: “For the purposes of this study ideology means ‘the political ideas and outlook of Irish nationalism.”‘ We are plunged immediately into confusion, for, as I shall argue, there is no such continuity of political ideas as might make the idea of Irish nationalism, as a distinct ideology, meaningful or useful. Irish nationalism is a historically formed amalgam of sentiments and traditions. Its “political ideas” are protean: at the end of the seventeenth century, for example, they took Jacobite form; by the end of the eighteenth century, a Jacobin form. Irish nationalism is not itself an ideology, but it has acquired an ideology: that of Irish Republicanism.

Irish Republicanism affects Irish nationalism—along with other forces, by far the most potent of which is Irish Catholicism—but the Republicanism is neither identical with the nationalism, nor coextensive with it. By treating Irish nationalism as itself an ideology, Mr. Cronin loses touch at the outset with what should be central to his subject matter: the relation between Irish nationalism and a quite distinct entity, the ideology which it has acquired.

The theoretical part of Mr. Cronin’s book goes down in that confusion, bravely flourishing irrelevant quotations from Mannheim and Morgenthau. But for the most part, the book is not theoretical but “historical”: a rambling survey of recent Irish history from an Irish-Nationalist-Catholic-Republican point of view, proving yet once more how right the Catholic people are, and how wrong the Protestants; politically speaking, of course. The book is not so much an analysis of its subject matter as a specimen of what the subject matter secretes and exudes.

Mr. Cronin’s title, however, suggests an interesting train of ideas, which I should like to pursue. There is a real continuity of Irish nationalism: not an ideological continuity, but a continuity of the traditions and feelings of a people. That people sees itself as the people of Ireland, and that perception is a large part of the problem. For these are not all the people of Ireland. They are the Catholic people of Ireland, formerly Gaelic-speaking. These were the losers in the seventeenth-century wars—wars that were dynastic, social, cultural, national, and religious, all at the same time. The forms of oppression which this people suffered—as a result of their decisive defeat—throughout the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth, were economic, social, and cultural, but justified by a politico-religious criterion: the presumed disloyalty of Irish Catholics to the British Protestant Crown. This presumption of disloyalty was generally well founded.

The main theme of Irish history, for nearly three centuries now, has been the recovery of the Irish Catholics: the Catholics getting their own back, in more senses than one. Throughout this long period, the Catholic clergy have been at or near the center of the process of recovery. It was a struggle, after all, not only against alien domination but against domination—until the process of recovery was already well advanced—in the name of an alien and false religion.

The tactics of recovery shifted widely: hence the impossibility of identifying any continuity of their ideology. At the time of the American Revolution, for example, the tactic pursued in the interests of Catholic recovery was demonstration of loyalty to the British Crown. By this tactic, Catholic leaders wrong-footed the Irish Protestant community—whose more radical members supported the American colonists—and at the same time sought to establish that Britain could now safely remove Catholic disabilities. That was the strategy of the leaders. What the mass of the Catholic people—then mainly Gaelic-speaking—thought about this matter, or whether they thought about it at all, we have no means of knowing. Gaelic literature of the period does not contain any reference to the American Revolution. Contrary to assumptions that later became general among Irish-American Catholics, enthusiasm in Ireland for the American revolutionary cause was exclusively a Protestant affair, at the time.

If the American Revolution left Irish Catholics cold, the French Revolution was very different. Only at this point does it become meaningful to talk about an Irish nationalist ideology, because up to this point no ideology distinguishable from Irish Catholicism exists among Irish Catholics. From the sixteenth century well into the eighteenth, the Faith and the Nation were one. The people are oppressed for their loyalty to their Faith: the people of Israel enchained by infidels—the parallel is explicit in Gaelic literature. The people had looked for deliverance to the Catholic powers of Europe: to the Pope and the emperor, the king of Spain, the king of France; or in practice to whichever of these happened to be at loggerheads with England at any particular time.


Long before the French Revolution, however, it had become clear to educated Catholics that no deliverance was at hand, from any Catholic power. The best hope seemed to lie in dropping all that, and pursuing equal rights for Catholics under the British Crown: in effect dropping what had been up to then the political aspect of Irish Catholicism. This was pragmatically sound, but psychologically difficult and divisive. The people’s songs were telling them quite different things from what their bishops were telling them. The old unity of Irish Catholicism was under stress.

The French Revolution not only vastly increased that stress; it created new and complex stresses and syntheses of its own. For Irish Catholics, the French Revolution was a wildly confusing and intoxicating phenomenon: anti-English and antilandlord, and powerful; all that was great, but was it anti-Catholic as well?

The confusion was greatly increased by the blazing simplifications of the revolutionary idea itself. There was to be an Irish nation modeled on la grande Nation itself. Irish revolutionaries, Catholic and Protestant together, transcending the outmoded superstitious animosities that monarchy, aristocracy, and the English had created, would make the new Ireland, of free, equal, fraternal citizens—“United Irishmen,” as the revolutionaries called themselves.

French revolutionary ideas, more or less in their original form, caught on among radical, educated Irish Protestants—mostly in what is now Northern Ireland—and among a few Catholics of the same class. But where it caught on in rural Catholic Ireland, as in Wexford, it caught on as an opportunity to overthrow Protestant landlords and their Protestant hangers-on, and the English power behind them. The story of the “United Irish” Risings of 1798 is covered in two splendid modern books which complement each other: Thomas Pakenham’s The Year of Liberty and Thomas Flanagan’s recent novel The Year of the French.

What is relevant to look at here is the condition of Irish nationalism and ideology as these developed in the period following the bloody and comprehensive repression of the 1798 Risings. One should note first the disappearance of Protestants from an Irish nationalism whose “French revolutionary” manifestations they had done so much to stimulate. Eastern Ulster, the only area where Protestants are in a majority, was henceforward committed, as it is today, to being no part of any united Ireland separate from Britain, or of any political union with Catholics. The course of the Rising (and particularly the massacres of Protestants in Wexford) convinced Protestants generally that “United Irish” ideas had been a disastrous illusion. Henceforward there would be isolated Protestant adherents to Irish nationalism but they would be adhering, in practice though not in rhetoric, to an Irish Catholic nation.

Some Protestant intellectuals—Thomas Davis, John Mitchel in the early nineteenth century, and later W.B. Yeats—played an important part in keeping “United Irish” ideas alive among Catholics. Charles Stewart Parnell, at the end of the nineteenth century, was a Protestant leader of Catholic people, on their terms.

Among Catholics, the primary effect of the Rising and its suppression was to reinforce the authority of the Catholic hierarchy, and the more conservative elements generally. The year 1798 was to look romantic in a far later retrospect, but in its immediate aftermath it had to be seen for the bloody disaster it actually was. The bishops, who had warned of the ruin attendant on monkeying around with French revolutionary ideas, were felt to have been proved right: no more of that, was a general feeling. Few Catholics seem to have thought any the worse of Daniel O’Connell for helping to crush the Protestant Robert Emmet’s hopeless United-Irish-type rising in 1803. O’Connell, as leader of the Irish Catholic people, pursued, in essentials, the course set by the Irish bishops in the eighteenth century: removal of Catholic disabilities, improvement of conditions for Catholics, under the British Crown. This was the general strategy of Irish nationalism, with mass support, throughout the nineteenth century. As democracy in the United Kingdom developed—Ireland’s separate (and Protestant) parliament was abolished in the aftermath of the 1798 Rising—political autonomy for Ireland under the Crown (“Repeal of the Union,” “Home Rule”) came to appear an essential goal.

That was the mainstream of Irish nationalism: pragmatic, Church-conditioned. But there was an undercurrent, and this took the form of a distinct ideology: Irish Republicanism. Republicanism, defying the bishops, took its inspiration from 1798 and the United Irishmen and especially from the teaching of Theobald Wolfe Tone, the United Irish leader and martyr. The goal was Tone’s: “To break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils.” The connection, of course, included the Crown, and this was what made the central formal distinction between the Republicans and the mainstream “constitutional” nationalists, who were willing to accept autonomous national status under the British Constitution and Crown. The Republican objective could only be attained, if at all, by physical force, and Irish Republicanism was and is a physical-force movement.


After yet another hopeless insurrection, in 1848, the Republican movement, like others of its kind in Europe, became embodied in a secret, oathtaking society. This was the Irish Republican Brotherhood, founded in 1858, begetter of the Irish Republican Army. The IRB had strong Irish-American links and its members were known as the Fenians.

The Church, or at least the bishops, condemned the Fenians: as carriers of the alien godless ideology of the French Revolution, as bound by a forbidden oath, and—above all—as inciting people into a hopeless, and therefore by Catholic teaching immoral, insurrection. After the Fenian Rising of 1867, one bishop proclaimed that hell was not hot enough nor eternity long enough to punish the Fenian leaders.

The mass of the people remained loyal to the Church, and supported the constitutional nationalists. But they also admired the Fenians, for their courage, their tenacity, and their uncontaminated continuity of Irish Catholic feeling. For what the Fenians were doing, and what the IRA is now doing (in practice, as distinct from rhetoric), was carrying on the political aspect of the Irish Catholic tradition, as it had existed in the Counter-Reformation times: root-and-branch hostility to the British Crown and all it stood for. The bishops, with their—relatively—novel doctrine of loyalty to the British Crown (and therefore the Protestant succession!) were on slippery ground, emotionally speaking.

Intellectually, it was the Fenians who were, and are, on slippery ground. Formally the Republican ideology is a modern, secular, post-Enlightenment affair. It preaches, in theory, union between the Irish people of all religious denominations, transcending the tragic sectarian divisions of the past, and so on. It all sounds very nice. At a distance and in a poor light, it is possible to mistake an Irish Republican for some kind of liberal.

But there is a catch, and the catch is that, as well as preaching nonsectarian unity among the Irish people, Republicans have as their prime objective the breaking of the connection with England. So what happens if—as is actually the case—a community of Irish people, the Protestants of Northern Ireland, refuse to break that connection, but on the contrary are determined to defend it?

In that case, with respect to Republican doctrine, the relevant characteristic of these people is not that they are Protestants—in which capacity Republicans, theoretically, welcome them with open arms—but that they are Unionists. Unionists can be regarded either as British, part of the occupying forces, or as Irish traitors. In either case Republicans have warrant from their ideology to shoot these people down, whenever opportunity offers.

So when, in our time, Catholic Republican gunmen systematically pick off Protestant farmers and shopkeepers in the border areas, they are not carrying on a sectarian civil war, as you might imagine, and as Protestants in their ignorance believe. No, they are breaking the connection with England, by killing the people who form that connection.

“We have nothing against Protestants as such,” the executioners explain.

You see the importance of ideology.

Sectarian—that is politico-sectarian—civil war in Ireland was always latent in Republican ideology. It did not, however, come to the point of actual Catholic-Protestant (Republican Unionist) civil war until as late as 1971, after the emergence of the Provisional IRA, the heirs to the ideology in its purest, perfected, and most deadly form.

So let us look back at some of the stages in the maturing of that ideology.

By the late nineteenth century, what looked like a rather stable symbiosis had been achieved in the political culture of the Irish Catholic community (or nation). The people went to Mass, and voted for constitutional nationalists. The Church, through the bishops, condemned the Republicans, and so sometimes did the constitutional nationalists, but not so loudly or so often as the bishops. The constitutional nationalists, unlike the bishops, depended on popular suffrage, and they knew that the people had a “weakness” for the Republicans. They wouldn’t follow them, or swallow their ideology, and they felt uneasy about them, but at the same time they liked to feel that deep down they were on the side of these patriotic men, up to a point and in a way. Under these conditions the Republicans could ignore the Church leaders. A Republican leader knew that, while he would have little visible following in life, there would be a marvelous turnout at his funeral.

So this bloody subcult firmly established itself within an otherwise exceptionally docile body of religious people whose religious leaders fiercely condemned the subcult. Religion is a bit like that: compare nonviolent Hinduism, with its subcult of the Goddess Kali, and her strings of human heads.

A hundred years ago, however, the subcult didn’t look serious. The Republicans very seldom actually killed anyone in those days. “The Church versus the Fenians” was a kind of standing political and cultural Punch-and-Judy show, adding to the fun and color of life. You knew the Church wasn’t really all that down on the Fenians. And you also knew that most of the Fenians were really good Catholics, and would probably make their peace with the Church before they died—and there would be a lovely funeral. It was all very cozy. But then around the turn of the century, a number of things happened to dispel the coziness.

The first of these events was the downfall of Charles Stewart Parnell in 1891. Parnell in that year was corespondent in an undefended divorce suit. In no part of the Victorian United Kingdom, including Ireland, could a political leader expect to retain his leadership under those conditions. Parnell, nonetheless, attempted to hold on. In this way, he created an extraordinary coalition against himself. The coalition consisted of his former allies, the British Liberal Party, headed by Gladstone; the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland; and a majority of the constitutional nationalists, his own party.

This situation presented the Republicans with a truly wonderful opportunity to reshape the whole political culture of Ireland to their own advantage. In their version of history, the English had decreed the fall of the greatest of Irish leaders, and the fawning bishops and fawning constitutional nationalists had hastened to do their bidding. As the writings of W.B. Yeats and James Joyce reflect, this scenario had a powerful appeal to the young, making them at the same time more refractory to Church control and more anti-English: two key points as far as the expansion of Republican influence was concerned.

As far as the young were concerned, the channel of Irish nationalism began to shift its course at this time: away from its tamer shore of Church approval and compromise with Britain and nearer to its wilder shore of Republicanism and human sacrifice. Kali had assumed a higher place in the pantheon.

The post-Parnell period—the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first decade of this one—was a period of apparent political quiet. In fact it was a period of major politico-cultural change. A cultural nationalism grew up—especially among the middle classes and in the cities—highly charged with romantic Republicanism, and resistant to the influence of the Church. W.B. Yeats of course—a Fenian of sorts himself at the time—played a notable part in all that, especially through his play Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902), with its mystical glorification of the blood sacrifice of 1798, and its evocation of further blood sacrifice to come. By this time, a great deal of explosive emotional material had accumulated.

Ironically, it was the triumph of the constitutional nationalists that supplied the detonator. Their triumph, followed by their undoing. For nearly forty years, since Parnell’s day, it had been the strategy of the constitutional nationalists to win Home Rule—devolved autonomy—by parliamentary action: in practice by controlling the balance of power in the House of Commons and enacting Home Rule through an alliance with a British party, the Liberals. In 1912, Asquith’s Liberals and the Irish nationalists together made up a Home Rule majority in Parliament. The House of Lords, which had vetoed the last Home Rule Bill, no longer had a veto. To Irish nationalists of all descriptions, Home Rule seemed home and dry.

The whole thing then struck a rock, in Ulster. Ulster Protestants first by mass demonstrations, then by arming and drilling, showed their implacable refusal to be incorporated in a Catholic majority, Home Rule State. They were supported by the British Tories. Asquith realized that there was no way by which he could compel Ulster Protestants to accept Home Rule. If Irish Catholics wanted Home Rule, they could have it for themselves, but they would have to do without Protestant-majority eastern Ulster. Rather than get no Home Rule at all, the constitutional nationalists agreed, with bitter reluctance, to a formula of “temporary exclusion” of eastern Ulster. Everybody knew “temporary” meant “permanent.”

The best-known account of these transactions is contained in George Dangerfield’s spirited and entertaining The Strange Death of Liberal England.1 The reader should be warned, however, that this account suffers from an underestimation of the autochthonous component in the Ulster crisis. As its title implies, Mr. Dangerfield’s book is an Anglo-centric account, with its emphasis on the amusing and unedifying gyrations of the English parties. The author assumes, without proving his case, that the English government both could and should have transferred a million Ulster Protestants out of the jurisdiction under which their ancestors had lived for centuries and in which they insisted on remaining, into a new jurisdiction which they passionately refused. This seems a large assumption, and I for one refuse to make it.

It was, however, and is, the almost universal assumption among Irish Catholic nationalists, and these generally regarded the partitionist outcome of the Home Rule crisis with deep shock and disappointment.

One group, however, that did not share the disappointment was the Republican hard core. For them the Home Rule debacle—as they saw it—provided an even more favorable conjuncture than the downfall of Parnell had done. That debacle did two things, both of them satisfactory to the Republican ideologues. First of all, it comprehensively discredited the constitutional nationalists. Second—and even more vital—it reaccredited physical force. Republicans had always said that the only argument England paid any attention to was the gun. The Ulster Volunteers had proved that this was true. In fact it would have been impossible for Britain to force a million refractory Ulster Protestants into Home Rule, even if they had had no guns, but it suited the Republicans to put the emphasis on the guns.

So the Irish Volunteers were founded in response to the Ulster Volunteers. (In reality Irish Catholic volunteers, but the religious labels are unnecessary; everybody knows, without saying, what the realities are.)

The Irish Volunteers were nationalists of all descriptions, many still adhering to the constitutional nationalist leaders who, though shaken and demoralized, still at this stage held much of their former respect. But then the First World War broke out and the constitutionally minded among the Irish Volunteers went off to fight the Germans. The Volunteers who remained in Ireland were heavily under Republican influence; the controlling element among the Republicans was the Irish Republican Brotherhood; and the Brotherhood had decided on insurrection. The Easter Rising of 1916 was in preparation.

The IRB, on the outbreak of the First World War, decided in principle, in accordance with its historic doctrine, “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity,”to bring about an insurrection at some time during the war. The timing and methods were left to a kind of subcommittee: the Military Council of the IRB. By 1916, the Military Council consisted of seven members, including Patrick Pearse and James Connolly. The members of the Military Council became the signers of the Proclamation of the Republic. When the insurrection had been crushed, within a week, the British executed the members of the Military Council, along with others.

While the insurrection was unpopular in Catholic Ireland when it was actually happening, the executions of the leaders and other events brought about widespread revulsion against the British and the constitutional nationalists, and a corresponding retrospective glorification of the men of 1916. By 1917 this swing to the Republic dominated most of the political life of Catholic Ireland.

It is at this point that the decisive event occurred for nationalism and for ideology. The old antagonists, the Church and the Fenians, now tacitly came to terms. The interlocutors were two exceptionally able and pragmatic men: Eamon de Valera, the senior survivor of 1916, and Archbishop Walsh, of Dublin.

Each had something to gain by coming to terms. De Valera intended to fight the postwar elections through an appeal to the mystique of 1916. Such an appeal was highly vulnerable, from the side of the Church, for according to the traditional teaching of the Irish Church, the enterprise of 1916 was literally damnable: it was a hopeless insurrection irresponsibly precipitated by a secret and oath-bound society, many times condemned by the Church. De Valera did not need the Church’s blessing for his political movement (now called Sinn Fein). What he did need was the Church’s neutrality: to be able to get on with the political sanctification of 1916 Republicanism, without awkward episcopal interventions reminding the faithful of the traditional theology.

The archbishop and his colleagues, for their part, had some strong reasons for according neutrality, at least. The constitutional nationalists were going downhill rather fast. The Church’s interests had to be protected in the event of the disappearance of these politicians. De Valera and his friends showed themselves respectful to the Church, and churchmen. With regard to 1916, there was the traditional teaching of course, and that could not be set aside, but there were other considerations too. The signers of the proclamation may have been secret and oath-bound, but they died exemplary Catholic deaths. Indeed all these people in their ordinary lives seemed to be exemplary Catholics; much better than the constitutional nationalists, many of whom had been contaminated by too much living in London, rubbing shoulders with godless English Liberals.

What exactly happened will probably always remain unknown. Irish historians have generally not looked very hard at this crucial transaction in the history of Republicanisn, the Church, and Irish ideology. By far the fullest exploration of this is contained in an admirable book by an American historian: David W. Miller’s Church State and Nation in Ireland.2 From Miller’s account, it looks as if de Valera convinced the archbishop of the essential point: that in a Sinn Fein Republican Ireland, the Catholic Church would be left with the same tight control over Catholic education as it had achieved under the British. And so indeed it worked out.

In any case, the Church refrained from intruding any awkward theological points into the election campaign of November 1918—and also generally refrained from warning that a Sinn Fein victory would lead to further violence. (They didn’t of course know that it would, but as prudent men they ought to have been aware of the danger and warned against it. Archbishop Walsh voted for Sinn Fein himself, and announced the fact.) Sinn Fein, in the name of the Republic proclaimed in 1916, won an overwhelming victory in Catholic Ireland. Republicanism became, and still is, the official political ideology of Catholic Ireland.

Pearse’s Republic did not, however, arrive and has not arrived yet. Three years of guerrilla war and reprisals, following Sinn Fein’s victory, ended in a treaty with Britain in 1921. That treaty accepted what all Republicans had contemptuously rejected in 1914: autonomy for the homogeneously Catholic part of Ireland, while the Protestant part (with some Catholic areas attached) remained in the United Kingdom. And this of course is still the case today.

The Irish (Catholic) people electorally endorsed the treaty. They had not known what they were letting themselves in for when they voted Sinn Fein, and they were only too happy to let themselves out again. A minority of Republicans, however, opposed the treaty by arms. These were excommunicated by the Church and crushed militarily by the pro-treaty forces.

Ten years later, however, the most eminent of the excommunicated, Eamon de Valera, came to power through free elections, in the state that the treaty had established. In substance, but not in form, de Valera now accepted the treaty arrangements. But even while doing so he insisted that what he represented was the 1916 tradition. Nineteen-sixteen Republicanism was now tightly fastened as the official ideology of the Irish state, now known as the Republic.

In today’s Republic the schools of the Catholic people are controlled by the Catholic Church. And in many such schools there hangs a copy of the Proclamation of the Republic, with the portraits of the seven men who made up the Military Council of a secret and oath-bound society many times anathematized by the Church. The Church acquiesces in the enthronement of the Fenianism that it had so long condemned as today the official ideology of the state.

The contemporary IRA, however, rejects that state quite consistently, precisely in the name of its own official ideology. They point out that this Republic, not being all Ireland, is not Pearse’s Republic; and it is not. They quote, to deadly effect, Pearse’s statement, “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.” They show from Tone that an Ireland still politically connected with Britain—through Northern Ireland—is unfree. They claim the right to use violence, as Pearse and Tone did, to achieve the objective of Pearse and Tone. If they are told they have no democratic mandate, they ask what democratic mandate did Pearse and Tone have? To which the only honest answer has to be: none whatever.

The official ideology of the Republic fully legitimizes the IRA’s “war” in Northern Ireland and so helps that “war” go on and on. The people of the Republic do not endorse that war, very far from it. We are nationalists in the sense of wanting to run our own affairs, not in the sense of wanting to annex territory and crush other people. We dislike the IRA, most of us, and fear it. We are a peaceful and democratic people. But our history, our “idealistic” pretensions, and our fatal ambivalence have stuck us with an ideology that is warlike and antidemocratic, and calls increasingly for further human sacrifice.

Our ideology, in relation to what we actually are and want, is a lie. It is a lie that clings to us and burns, like the shirt of Nessus.

Postscript: With the advent of Mr. Charles J. Haughey as taoiseach (prime minister) on March 9, the shirt clings tighter. Mr. Haughey prides himself on being more Republican than any other Irish leader; more Republican than former taoiseach Jack Lynch, much more Republican than Dr. Garret FitzGerald (outgoing taoiseach, now leader of the opposition). And the elements in Mr. Haughey’s Fianna Fáil party that are less Republican than Mr. Haughey are crushed, for the moment at any rate. Unlike Mr Haughey’s last government—which fell in June 1981—the new government is a fully Haugheyite one, with Haughey henchmen in all the key positions. The toughest of these henchmen, Mr. Ray McSharry, now emerges as deputy leader (replacing an eminent dove, Mr. George Colley). Mr. McSharry is a Republican too of course, and a Republican with a sense of humor to boot. Some years ago, at a meeting in Mr. McSharry’s native Sligo, a speaker quoted the statement of the Irish Catholic bishops that a million Protestants cannot be bombed into a United Ireland. Quick as a flash, Mr. McSharry replied: “Maybe they can be bombed out of it.” This was a joke.

As Freud knew, jokes can light up scary realities underlying the respectability of literally intended discourse. In this case, what the joke lights up is the reality of the drive toward politico-sectarian civil war that underlies the “United Irish” rhetoric of the Republican tradition.

Mr. Haughey, in his first speech as taoiseach, said that Northern Ireland would be the first priority of his government. He must, it seems, have progress toward a United Ireland, and British withdrawal—even though a majority in Northern Ireland does not want either of those things.

Mr. Haughey’s ambiguous record in relation to the Provisional IRA in 1970, the composition of his new Cabinet, and his present heavy emphasis on unification are all calculated to raise the temperature in the North, and revive the fortunes both of the Provisionals and the Paisleyites—both of which were flagging at the beginning of this year.

I write this postscript on March 16. Yesterday, an IRA bomb went off in the crowded shopping center of the Protestant town of Banbridge, Northern Ireland, killing an eleven-year-old boy, and injuring thirty-four other people. For that, Protestant paramilitaries threatened “retaliation,” i.e., against Catholics. Tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day, Mr. Haughey is due in Washington, to look for a United Ireland. Any encouragement he may get in America can only make a still hotter shirt for the real Ireland to burn in.

This Issue

April 29, 1982