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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Happy Xmas From Little England
Eamon Sweeney • 12. 12. 03

Last week the Conservative Party confirmed the expulsion of their Peterborough Councillor Neville Saunders.

The reason behind his exclusion was his abject refusal to withdraw remarks he had made concerning the suicide of Royal Irish Regiment soldier, Paul Cochrane at Drumadd barracks, County Armagh in 2001.

Mr. Saunders who had been the leader of Peterborough council had said that anyone who joined the Army “should be prepared to deal with a bullet”.

Paul Cochrane took his own life, after complaining about abuse within the army at his regimental quarters.

Still, Mr. Saunders remained unrepentant even though he admitted that his remarks may have upset people in Northern Ireland. Further more he stated that “What I said was how I felt at that moment in time. An honest politician does retract what he has said. ”After this point he contended, ”I am uncouth, yes, I agree, but I have done an awful lot of good for the Conservative Party. ”

This episode had begun after Saunders had received a letter from Carrickfergus Council asking every council in the UK to support an investigation into Mr. Cochrane’s death. At that time Councillor Saunders had also stated that he was fed up paying taxes to cover for the “lazy Irish”.

The comments of the former councillor had however been sufficiently embarrassing for the Conservative Party for them to send, Quentin Davies, party spokesman on Northern Ireland over here to apologise for any hurt caused to the Cochrane family. They had also deemed the incident sufficiently serious, to involve the party’s deputy chairman Raymond Monbiot to lead the investigation into the debacle. The subsequent spurning of the opportunity to apologise by Saunders lead to his eventual dismissal from the Conservative Party’s ranks.

Current statistics indicate that from 1990 to May 2002, 1748 people have died in and around British military property from what has been termed “non-natural causes”. That Mr. Cochrane’s father had said that he found the comments deeply insulting, did not seem to hold any sway with Councillor Saunders at all. Mr. Cochrane senior had been simply following the footsteps of the parents of four young soldiers who died whilst in service at the Deepcut base in the south of England.

These parents reject the Army claims that the troopers died as a result of suicide through shooting and have accused the military of a cover up.

This particular incident struck a number of chords with me.

In these times of supposed reconciliation with the “aul enemy” it is plain as plain can be that English attitudes towards Irish difficulties are changing little. I have often heard over the years from many English people that they really don’t understand what we are all fighting about over here. From many more I have heard that the English started all this and should go home at once. I liked those people. Although, I realise now that their shallow reading of our situation was born out of nervousness and eagerness to submit some of sort of apology for the sins of their fathers, for want of a better phrase. These English people now remind me of Harry Enfield’s German character who felt an overwhelming compulsion to “apologize for the conduct of my nation during zee war”, but felt an even stronger compulsion to crack under the strain and scream “Zis would never happened under zee Nazi’s”.

As you shall see I have no intention of trivialising what I consider to be a very serious topic. This is partly due to the fact that I have also encountered genuinely likeable English men and women, whom I have to say came from the geographical location of Birmingham or above. The majority of those below this point and heading towards London are those from whom I have encountered the most hostility and bitterness, for no other reason than I am Irish and because a particular section of my community has been successful in the past in sending their “brave boys” home in coffins. These are the “Little Englanders” like Mr. Saunders who feel proud of the British Army’s contribution to life, and most likely the taking of life in places such as these. He is not however sufficiently generous with his pride to extend it to a British soldier who was after all born in the UK, but who spoke with an Irish accent. As the Christy Moore song, ”Missing You” once very smartly contended, it doesn’t matter what you think you are in London, if you speak with an “Irish” accent you are condemned to be considered simply “Paddy, Billy or Mick”. Whether you drown your Shamrock or your Poppy in your stereotypical twenty pints of stout a day, or whether or not your ancestors drowned the Shamrock in their blood at Flanders or at Dunkirk, you are sub-culture, a servile colonial to be treated with the appropriate disdain. You are lazy, work shy and rebellious and totally ungrateful for the noblesse oblige that unselfishly structured the civilisation that has improved your quality of life and without which you would still be cowering in the bogs consuming the vegetation that surrounded you for survival.

Thank God for Walter Raleigh and the potato then, that really saved our ungrateful Celtic arses!

Believe me when I say that I am putting it incredibly mildly when I tell you I am no fan of the British Army, but I am always astounded when I encounter the opinions of the Dads Army Fan Club. This disservice is done not only to all sections of our society in the six counties but also stretches, in my experience, to these same people adopting exactly the same attitude towards Brummies, Scousers, Geordies, the Scots and the Welsh. These are the sections of British society that whilst we feel uncomfortable admitting it, we have probably much more in common with than the people of the south of Ireland. Saunders and his kind are the people whose attitudes put the flesh on the bones of the lie that Britain has no longer any selfish, strategic or military interest in Ireland. This is also the type of faceless little establishmentarian who would make these comments, but then defend to the death “Ulster’s right” to remain British.

The legacy of the British Empire has left nothing but discrimination, poverty and death for nationalists and republicans not only in Ireland, but throughout Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle and Liverpool, and of course in what are often glibly referred to as “the Celtic peripheries” of Scotland and Wales. It matters little to people like Saunders that the inhabitants of all these places through economic necessity fill the ranks of the British Army even to this very day.

It also still rankles with people such as these that Ireland was the first to take the chance and succeed in crumbling their shabby imperial façade.

It matters little either that those from there as well as Belfast, Derry, Dublin and elsewhere built the places he probably feels so proud to pin his sense of Englishness upon. To this day northern nationalists are apt to refer to Dubliners as “Jackeens” as it is claimed they waved the Union Jack as proud as punch on every royal visit and again, whilst they also spat, on the republican volunteers of 1916 as they were hauled off to jail. Therefore the contention that many nationalists make about being dowsed in the blood of Pearse’s sacrifice is largely nonsense, especially in the south.

The tragedy of the North of Ireland is that Unionists fail to realise that to a substantial proportion of Britain they are viewed as simply Irish. The Ulster Volunteer Force formed in 1912, led the charge under the banner of the 36th Ulster Division on 1st July 1916, the start of the battle of the Somme and were butchered in their thousands. In most major engagements in British military history it has been the Irish, the Scots and the Welsh that have always lead the charge.

They were merely Irish, Scots or Welsh men at this point. It is only when the flag is lowered and the last post sounds each rememberance Sunday that they are allowed to be termed British. How true then was Connolly’s assertion that his Irish Citizen Army served neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland?Connolly had served for a while in the British army.

It is the failure of Unionism to realise that being cannon fodder inspires only a thin veil of loyalty from the crown.

Unionists will always be classed as minions, never co-equals of the English. Blair in his quest to devolve the UK seeks a strong stock broker belt in the south of England, to rival the financial centres of the rest of Europe. New Labour equals old Thatcherism and anywhere north of Watford will eventually wither in the same way it did under Papal Dame Maggie.

Had he a time machine, I believe Tony Blair would assassinate the original architects of the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921.

Blair wants out of here. It is fantastic that those who prevent from him doing so are the British/Irish, whom he really does not have much respect for anyway. Always remember that Englishmen fought for an English republic long before it had entered any Irishman’s head.

In 1995 the BBC announced the winner of that years Noble prize for literature was a British poet. It was Seamus Heaney from Londonderry they said. In the same way Barry Mc Guigan was British until he was beaten, then he was Irish again, yet do not ever say that he is Irish in his home town of Clones, believe me they do not appreciate it!

Christy Moore’s take on the Seamus Heaney incident was to pen a song called “On the Mainland”.

Since the English had chosen to claim Seamus Heaney, Christy wrote that …“You never claimed George Best or Alex Higgins, and you never claimed Bellaghy’s other bhoys, but that’s the way things are upon the mainland, where the Quare hawks are still sucking the wee small birds eggs dry…. ”

That says it all.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

17 December 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


An Autopsy on the Provos
Sandy Boyer


The PSNI Threat

Anthony McIntyre


Seize the Opportunity, Seize the Moment
Liam O Ruairc


Happy Xmas from Little England
Eamon Sweeney


Dublin Cover-up Was Government Policy
Father Sean Mc Manus


Warm (Flat) Earth
Michael Youlton


13 December 2003


The Right Road to Power
Anthony McIntyre


University Challenge

Seaghán Ó Murchú


Money Talks
Mick Hall


Bloody Sunday Inquiry
Liam O Comain


Stalemate for the GFA
Paul Mallon


The GFA and Other Fairystories
Proinsias O'Loinsaigh


Dies IRAe
Ruth Dudley Edwards


Conversion of Constantine
Terry O'Neill


Republican Prisoner Attacked in Hydebank YOC



Civil Rights Veterans on Prison Situation
October 5th Association




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