Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Irish Holocaust

I used to post a great deal on Irish issues for a different blog. Everything from Irish history, to The Troubles, to the current struggle to secure freedom for ALL of Ireland. I have gotten away from that, considering all the bloggable moments we see everyday in our own Diocese and in the nation abroad.

But let me talk to you briefly about one of the issues that plagues me about being Irish. It is the period of time that most of you refer to as "the great potato famine" and how in a different way, war is still being waged on Catholic Northern Ireland by the British government.

As most of you know there was a blight that destroyed the Irish potato crop, but there was no reason that this disaster should have been responsible for the deaths of over 5 million Irish citizens. Ireland produced enough other food, and had livestock enough to feed a population 20 times the number of people that died during the years between 1845 and 1852.

The only correct term to use in reference to this period is to call it a holocaust.

So what happened?

The British government used military force to ensure the mass population starved.

The only way the Irish Catholics were legally allowed to consume food produced from within the country was to renounce their faith. This is a very difficult concept for some people to comprehend. Why would a government starve someone because of their faith or religion? The Irish Catholics were hated by a foreign Protestant government, the government of Britain. They wanted to destroy or at the very least reduce the population, so they used the failure of the potato crop as a springboard to invoke policies that would ensure the deaths of a majority of the native Irish Catholic population.

By 1845 there was already a sizable Irish community in the United States and these proud immigrants organized substantial relief efforts for their brothers across the sea. Shiploads of famine relief food was sent across the Atlantic but were never allowed to reach their destination by the Brits. These ships in some cases, were diverted to England, or the food was left to rot in Irish harbors.

Relief was not allowed to reach the Irish by the British government. A genocide of the Irish people was taking place.

The faith of these good Irish Catholics struggling for their survival was so strong, that the overwhelming majority would not renounce their faith in order to save themselves from hunger.

The Church to this day has unbelievably refused to deal with the issue of martyrdom for those that died rather than renounce their faith. There is a formalized request to have the victims of the holocaust elevated to martyr status but the Church has not, according to my information, acknowledged the request.

During the holocaust, some examples of the conditions imposed on Irish Catholics by the British Protestants:

The Irish Catholic was forbidden the exercise of his religion.
He was forbidden to receive education,
He was forbidden to enter a profession.
He was forbidden to hold public office.
He was forbidden to engage in trade or commerce.
He was forbidden to live in a corporate town or within five miles thereof.
He was forbidden to own a horse of greater value than five pounds.
He was forbidden to purchase land.
He was forbidden to lease land.
He was forbidden to accept a mortgage on land in security for a loan.
He was forbidden to vote.
He was forbidden to keep any arms for his protection.
He was forbidden to hold a life annuity.
He was forbidden to buy land from a Protestant.
He was forbidden to receive a gift of land from a Protestant.
He was forbidden to inherit land from a Protestant.
He was forbidden to inherit anything from a Protestant.
He was forbidden to rent any land that was worth more than thirty shillings a year.
He was forbidden to reap from his land any profit exceeding a third of the rent.
He could not be guardian to a child.
He could not, when dying, leave his infant children under Catholic guardianship.
He could not attend Catholic worship.
He was compelled by law to attend Protestant worship.
He could not himself educate his child.
He could not send his child to a Catholic teacher.
He could not employ a Catholic teacher to come to his child.
He could not send his child abroad to receive education.

Starvation, death, disparate treatment, and systematic discrimination were all accepted conditions imposed on the Irish Catholic. Today, things are better. There is a free Irish state, consisting of 26 of Irelands 32 counties. However, there are 6 counties held hostage by the British government. Until Britain honestly deals with its crimes against the Irish and quits rewriting and tempering history to make their crimes seem less brutal, there will be Fenians and Republicans that fight for justice and the end of imperialism.

Never, in any context, has there been apologies or reparations or even fair treatment of matters relating to Ireland by the British government. The brutality of the British government in respect to the treatment of Catholics and the native Irish population has never been reasonably or fairly dealt with by the modern government. In fact, the struggle still continues for a united Ireland to this day. The Brits remain constant in their obstinance to maintain their presence in Northern Ireland despite resistance from the Catholic population and many different Republican organizations.

It is odd that Britain was one of the first to condemn Saddam Hussein in 1990 for invading Kuwait, but the international community has never so much as scolded Britain for holding Ireland's 6 northern counties against their will for so long.

Will we ever see a united Ireland, free to pursue her owns dreams? Free to choose her own form of government? Free from the rule of a foreign power?

Remember: 26+6=1


Father G said...

This is a part of Irish history that I find very interesting but unfortunately know little about. Thanks for 'enlightening' us. I wish I were Irish, that way I too could be an unrepentant fenian bastard, or do you really have to be Irish?

The Rockin' Traddy said...

You don't need to be Irish! And you can do much with your prayers for the Irish Catholics to relieve their suffering.

Did you know that while walls are coming down in other parts of the world, that they are going up in Northern Ireland? As we speak, the British government is erecting walls segregating Catholics from Protestants.

That's the Brits answer on how to keep the peace. Do you know that violence is starting up again in the north? You won't see Katie Couric talking about it though, we can't afford to show Britain in a bad light on the nightly news.

But I can show you.

So stay tuned.

And I have decided to name you an honorary "Unrepentant Fenian Bastard"!

Congratulations! Have a Guinness, enjoy!

Hm. I've never called a priest a bastard before.

Do I need confession now?

Father G said...

I'm sure I've probably been called worse...;)and I won't hold you to confession. I would think that this is one case where being called a bastard is a good thing!
I always knew that England was a problem for the Irish and especially Irish Catholics but I didn't know it was that bad...not surprised though. I'm looking forward to learning more, so keep it coming. Thanks for the UFB honorary nomination and I think I will have a wait better, some Irish whiskey...yeah...a toast to you Sir...and to a united Catholic Ireland!

Anonymous said...

Yes, that to me is a shameful part of the church hierarchy's history: the Bishops who sided against the Irish rebels. At least the parish priests supported them (Some Bishops did as well, but not all.)

Rome SHOULD recognize these martyrs. It seems that the Irish always get the shaft, yet, there is divine justice. Ireland's standard of living is higher than England's no. Unfortunately, they are forgetting their faith, after the scandals especially.

May God return to us a Northern Ireland free of the rule of foreigners and a (United) Republic free from the grasp of the secularism that now creeps.

-Half Irish, Full Catholic