The North Star

Nora Connolly 

Image © Flickr: Mural on the Solidarity Wall

To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy licence; your national greatness swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy, a thin veil to cover up crimes to which would disgrace a nation of savages…Frederick Douglass 5th July 1852

The 50th anniversary of Dr King`s iconic speech, is a good time to reflect on the significance of the Civil Rights Movement both within but also outside the USA. In 1967 for example, the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was formed in an attempt to address the manifest discrimination the Catholic population experienced in areas such as housing, jobs and in the gerrymandering of the political system. The Irish Civil Rights Movement clearly attempted to emulate the USA campaign but it appears a symbiotic relationship existed between the Irish and US civil rights experience long before Dr King emerged to lead the civil rights movement.   Read more of this post

Robert Kee – A Television History of Ireland – Episode 3 `Two Nations 1700-1845`

Nora Connolly 

© Image The Library of Congress photostream

Tis the most distressful country that ever yet was seen (John McCormack)

In a broad sweep Kee examines Irish nationalist development up to the Act of Union (1801) the episode concludes with the famine. The two nations described are identifiable by religious affiliation, the largest Catholic and by virtue of the Penal Laws a discriminated group. While religious observance for Catholics was difficult, it was grudgingly accepted by the authorities (though in reduced circumstances). The quid pro quo at the heart of this tacit arrangement was recognition that Catholic civil rights were completely curtailed. Catholics were not permitted to hold political office, disqualified from voting and as episode three illustrates, severe limitations were imposed on land ownership including the transfer of land through inheritance. The Presbyterian Protestant dissenter`s in the North (not identified as a separate group by Kee), were also penalised, e.g. the requirement of paying tithes to the Anglican Church. These grievances would be a unifying factor, in the formation of an embryonic Irish Republican movement. Read more of this post

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