Northern and Southern Ireland: What do They Want?

a commentary on issues in “Michael Collins

Regardless of whether or not you saw “Michael Collins,” the 1996 film based on the uprisings in 1920's Ireland (led by Michael Collins and the Irish Republican Army), it would benefit many of us to get a short history lesson about the feelings of Northern and Southern Ireland, and the past and present day IRA. Please consider the following article sent to us from one of Christian Spotlight on the Movies readers living in Scotland. Mr. Renton supplies us with some interesting information to ponder regarding this volatile situation.

Ken James, Reviewer of “Michael Collins” for Christian Spotlight on the Movies Web site

Letter from: Mr. David Renton

During the 1920's, the Catholic South of Ireland desired independence from Britain. They received it. But why, after earning their freedom, did they continue fighting? Due to settlers from England and Scotland, Northern Ireland has been largely Protestant for hundreds of years. In fact, the 2/3's of Northern Ireland which are Protestant do not even consider themselves Irish in any way. If you were to ask them where they live, “Ulster” would be their response. Ulster has been around for centuries. Surely any claims on this land by the South are no longer valid. An Ulsterman considers himself British and desires to stay a part of Britain. Ulster, consisting of several counties, has already given two of its counties to the Republic years ago to keep the peace.

During the last 25 years, the IRA has taken to killing innocent woman and children. Many Americans don't realize, however, that for every British citizen killed by the IRA, the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) kills a Catholic in revenge. Both the IRA and the UVF are outlawed by the British and Irish governments, and both are murderers, most of whom are no longer fighting for a cause. The British army stationed in Ulster is there to keep the peace—they are not on either side. I will not try to deny, however, that the army sometimes shows favoritism against the IRA. But if you were a soldier in Ulster trying to keep the peace between two factions of terrorists, one side (the IRA) trying to kill you and your family, while the other side not targeting you, who would you be biased towards?

Perhaps if the United Nations sent troops to replace the British army (a military presence is certainly necessary) and became the targets of the IRA, maybe then nations around the world would not be so sympathetic towards the IRA.

In Ulster, the IRA and UVF run organized crime, much like the Mafia. Everyone here knows that Senn Fein is the political front for the IRA. Gerry Adams is their leader and this man was given an audience by the President of the United States, probably to get Irish American votes, against the wishes of the American secret services. Gerry Adams backs and supports the IRA. He will never condemn the IRA even when they kill innocent woman and children. A couple years ago the IRA set off a bomb in the Shankhill Road in Ulster and killed many innocent people in a cowardly act. One of the bombers killed himself accidentally in the bombing. At the funeral, who was carrying the coffin? Gerry Adams. Yet, he has nothing to do with the IRA! Senn Fein only got about 1/10 of the vote in the north because the majority of those in Ulster who want the 2 countries united don't even back Senn Fein.

The IRA are not freedom fighters. Whose freedom are they fighting for? The Catholics in the North? How can this be? They are British citizens just like me. I'm free. I assume they are too. If they want to be part of the South they should go live there (but they don't because the North is better off as part of Britain). Ireland will never be one country again because the North does not want it. Even if Britain gave into the IRA and said the Republic could have the North, it would never work. The North would fight before they would join with the Catholic south. I personally know good Christian men in the North who are totally against both terrorist organizations and don't agree with violence to solve the problem in any way. Yet, if they were told against their wishes that they were going to be given to the South, they would certainly take up arms to defend their country. A bloody civil war would erupt.

Living in Scotland where we also have the Protestant/Catholic divide, we live with it every day. In Scotland we don't blow each other up, we just shout at each other at football matches. But the divide is still present.

On a different note, I would like to comment on “In the Name of the Father” (mentioned in the review of “Michael Collins”), a film about the Bradford bombers and one of the four people who were falsely arrested for the crime. One of these 4 (I don't think it was the character the film focused on) after he was freed got an interesting job; he became an advisor on the set of the film Blown Away starring Jeff Bridges. His expertise focused on scenes involving bombings. His own Father, who fought for years to free his son, said he was ashamed by this action. Draw your own conclusions.

Yours in Christ,
David Renton