Northern Ireland is a complicated place with a difficult history that has been caught in cycles of violence for what feels like forever. The reasons for it are never one-dimensional and they’re never just about external factors or high level politics.
Throughout my life it’s always followed a pattern: tensions rising, politicians trying to stoke those tensions to maintain their power, sparking point and a release in the form of disruption on the streets. Finally, belated and often cackhanded condemnations by said pol.
It’s against a backdrop of an unfolding Brexit - that was never going to give what the DUP / British govt promised - enduring paramilitary activities, the spark point of an IRA funeral, poor political l’ship, pandemic exhaustion ... It wasn’t inevitable but it was clearly set up.
If you’re not from NI, not familiar with it, or haven’t closely followed what has been unfolding for the past months / years then try to avoid inserting your own take on what is a complicated situation. This isn’t just about a protocol or Brexit but it’s not separate either.
While the local situation creates the circumstances - rioting still isn’t rare in Ni, it just isn’t usually reported much outside - the uncertainties of Brexit are now an enduring backdrop that has reactivated the national question. It’s mishandling does have consequences.
The factors that aren’t always filtering outside of NI is social deprivation (rioting in always in areas that have least benefited from peace); paramilitary (criminal) gangs that haven’t really gone away; long-term recourse to recreational rioting in tense situations.
Ever in the backdrop is a dysfunctional society that it has been politically expedient for both nation-states to ignore while politics is dominated by sectarian head counts. Normalization of a post-conflict society has not included desegregation so two communities are maintained.
At election time sectarianism is whipped up though real and fake crises to ensure two communities are maintained and their most extreme voices are revoted in. In the meantime, peace dividends do not drip down, political corruption is not punished and the cycle continues.
It sometimes feels that these cyclical crisis points are as inevitable as they are stubbornly hard to displace - to put bluntly: it suits too many people and especially political parties for divisions to be maintained and this unhealthy situation to continue.

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More from @LMcAtackney

7 Apr
Sometimes I wonder how many historians have really clear understandings of how archives work. How much the papers and ledgers (microfiche and scans) they access are shaped, wedded and refined by the institutions that created them, used them and finally archives them?
Most historians know archives are not neutral repositories of the past. They know about the huge scandals - of colonial archives burnt and hidden by the British - but do they know how much the humdrum holdings of archives are also hugely selected?…
Most government archives hold only a tiny fraction of the files ever created - probably not even 5% for large archives like TNA; maybe a little more for somewhere like PRONI - and that selection used to take place at various points in time (5/20 years) and now is more automated.
Read 6 tweets
7 Apr
Where do you even start with such a disingenuous article? Its twisting logic, half truths and factual inaccuracies?

All Europe has a racism problem. Colonialism was lead by some countries, more benefited and its logics have permeated the continent…
Many imperial countries are the most multicultural- and for the longest period - for obvious reasons of having long-term ‘connections’ across the Globe but also due to push-pull factors. The UK retained colonies and ‘invited’ many subjects to rebuild the country esp post-war.
The indignities and explicit racism that many of the eg Windrush generation experienced in the UK is well documented and continues through to today in various forms but often more subtle and structural, not simply the explicit ‘No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish’ kind.
Read 6 tweets
1 Aug 20
The media reporting on the removal of orientalising and sexualising 19thC decorative arts outside an international 5 * hotel in Dublin has been disappointing. There have been many opinions on this issue on twitter and the nuances of many of those discussions are being lost.
The daily deluge of articles claiming emerging ‘expertise’ and ‘trench warfare’ on twitter misrepresents some of the interesting, measured and at times heartfelt opinions being shared as one note and polarizing. They have not always been.…
There have been some reductive points made in some of the media reporting that has not reflected the discussions I’ve seen - the idea that these statues represent the Transatlantic Slave Trade (many of us having pointed out this was not the only form of european colonialism).
Read 13 tweets
15 Jun 20
It is quite dispiriting how soon after #BLM protests started the resurgence of #Irishslave #scottishslave and #wewereallslaves memes and bullshit ‘articles’ started circulating. I seem to be spending a lot of my time posting rebuttals to ppl / pages that should know better.
Some basic facts for those who want to fight the good fight. Yes a large number of Irish and Scottish were forcibly sent to the Caribbean by Cromwell but that’s a tiny % of those who went in total. This included many Europeans (even the English) and was often voluntary.
The Irish and Scottish who went to the Caribbean went as (indentured) servants. This meant they signed up for a period of service - varying between 2-7 years generally - once it was over they could renew their service or move on. They were often granted small parcels of land.
Read 11 tweets
12 Jun 20
Important article for Irish people to read, digest and sit with. As we know, Ireland has a complicated history. We like to talk about ‘800 years of oppression’ not so much the reality of being colonized but also benefiting from colonization…
Let’s deal with a few of the most typical ‘whataboutery’ comments that always appear BTL with such articles. Those Irish people who directly benefited from slavery were not just the ‘Protestant upper classes’. The Catholic landed and middle classes were slave owners too.
Catholics and Protestant Irishmen made up the backbone of the British Imperial system (alongside the Scots) as many of the soldiers and administrators of the British Empire. Many owned slaves but even if not the directly benefited from the inequalities of Empire.
Read 11 tweets
8 Jun 20
Why is it so difficult for some Irish people to use the term indentured servitude when talking about INDENTURED SERVITUDE? There are very clear differences between it and chattel slavery in tenure and status without mentioning the racialized nature of slavery. Don’t do this.
Using the correct term - indentured servitude - doesn’t lessen what was an horrendous experience for many but it does recognise the basic legal differences of being recognized as a human being (IS) bonded for a term of service -v- being assigned as property (CS) perpetually.
It also recognizes that indentured servitude was a long-term mechanism, which included the mass, forced removal of the brutal Cromwellian conquest but has a much longer history. It was a condition that could be voluntary, could be voluntarily extended and wasn’t uniquely Irish.
Read 7 tweets

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