Friday, 24 December 2010

Irish Labour Party

Recently on Facebook I seem to have acquired some 'friends' who belong to the Irish Labour Party.  I was therefore interested to read the following in an article by Kevin Myers in the Belfast Telegraph last night, 23 December.  The article had previously appeared in the Irish Independent on 21 December:
Most readers are now acquainted with the Rome Rule that emerged following independence.  By 1949 the Irish Labour Party boasted that its policies were based on papal encyclicals and that it acknowledged the authority of the Catholic Church in all policy matters.
It is easy for people in the Irish Republic to point the finger at Northern Ireland and brand us as a sectarian state but the fact is that for the first fifty years of the southern state Home Rule was indeed Rome Rule.  In spite of the efforts of some courageous politicans such as Noel Browne, Irish political parties, including the Irish Labour Party were largely subservient to Roman Catholic authority.

The situation in the Irish Republic has changed in recent years but what happened in the Republic helps us to understand what happened in Northern Ireland.


  1. I see that "whataboutery" is alive and well in the DUP. It's time that you applied yourself to the real issues that are facing people in Northern Ireland and which are blind to religion or nationality ... unemployment and job security, people's standards of living, cuts to public services and the corrosive legacy of tribal sectarianism that disappointingly remains the leitmotif for both DUP & Sinn Fein politics in NI.

    This is an itch that you really need to learn not to scratch, Nelson. Happy Christmas by the way!

    Desmond O'Toole
    Central Council of the Labour Party and PES activists Dublin (personal capacity)

  2. Desmond - Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

    I agree that building the economy and creating jobs must be a priority. Within my own department we have identified the creative industries and cultural tourism as the potential growth areas and are working hard to ensure that the right support is there for creative industries and that the right product is there for cultural tourism.

    As regards addressing sectarianism I am very much committed to a shared and better future and have made that a departmental priority. However one of the elements in that must be around exploring and understanding the past. There are so many myths and misunderstandings that contribute to division and prejudice. Moreover what happened in the Free State and the Republic had an influence on attitudes in Northern Ireland. This is not whataboutery. Every community and every party can look back and see things that we wish had been done differently. Yes, some more than others, but none of us are perfect and we all get things wrong.

    You say that whataboutery is alive and well in the DUP but I would suggest it is in an even healthier state in some of the younger members of the Labour Party.

  3. Nelson those claims need to be based on fact, and not an article by Kevin Myers.

    Des is right. You're budget has been severed and you have a lot on your plate now without all of this.

    And I reject your claim that whataboutery is "in an even healthier state in some of the younger members of the Labour Party". Again, where is your claim. Labour Youth is an open, active and progressive organisation and that kind of behaviour frankly does not exist.

    I hope you had a good Christmas, and I wish you a happy 2011.

    Darren Bates
    Recruitment Officer, Labour National Youth Executive

  4. The original post contained the following statements:
    1. Kevin Myers observation on the Irish Labour Party
    2. During the first fifty years of the southern state Home Rule was indeed Rome Rule.
    3. In spite of the efforts of some courageous politicans such as Noel Browne, Irish political parties, including the Irish Labour Party, were largely subservient to Roman Catholic authority.

    As regards the first point you might care to respond directly to Kevin Myers but as regards the subservience of many southern politicans to the Roman Catholic Church there is ample evidence. For example, at the 1936 Labour Party conference Patrick Corish, a Labour TD from Wexford, said: 'I am neither socialist, syndicalist or communist. I am a Catholic, thank God, and am prepared to take my teaching from the Church.’ Patrick Corish was the father of Labour Party leader Brendan Corish and his son was to hold similar views. This was demonstrated during the Mother and Child controversy when he declared himself a ‘Bishops’ man’ on the issue.

    I am glad to hear that Labour Youth is an 'open, active and progressive organisation' but can you really claim that 'whataboutery' does not exist in it? Some of the arguments and attitudes I have encountered on Facebook suggest otherwise. However that is not surprising. Every organisation has members who fall short of the standards expected.

    Finally, I am surprised that this post has received so much attention. I have not seen a single response to it in the Belfast Telegraph and that is the place to respond to Kevin Myers.

  5. Nelson McCausland's point that what went on in the south helps to explain what went on in the north (and vice versa) is a fair point. I think it's a characteristic of border-drawing post-WW1 here and in east/central Europe. The rush to create post-imperial states based on homogenous ethnic or religious populations did not have a happy outcome anywhere.

  6. Out of all your posts I have read so far this one makes sense to me... I would like to elaborate more on this topic in the future...


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