Letters to the Editor

‘Planters' is still the fitting name


Samuel Morrison (June 3) referred to the Ian Knox cartoon that mocked the loyalists and unionists who took offence to the term ‘Planters’. Samuel then follows it up with his own offensive language whereby he claims that nationalists tend not to know what Hewitt meant when he used the word ‘Planter’ to describe himself. Samuel seems to want to portray himself and the fellow unionist who made this remark to him in the past, as being intellectually superior on the subject of Hewitt. To reinforce this idea, he tells us that “Hewitt’s poems occupy a space on my bookcase” and infers that some nationalists will have copies of the Fenian Cyclesinstead and will feel the same way about these copies as he does about Hewitt’s poems, rather than feeling the way he does about the poems. I think he has given us a snapshot of the delusions of superiority that still pervade some of the more intellectual unionist circles today. It’s a shame that he didn’t enlighten us all as to what the correct interpretation was of Hewitt’s self-description of the term ‘Planter’. I understand Samuel’s desire to quash any problems that can and have occurred from people being regarded as, or feeling as if they are, blow-ins and outsiders, but this shouldn’t be to the point of denying reality. There was a large-scale plantation and colonisation and imperialist project by peoples from outside of Ireland, by those who were ‘other’. This was not a natural migration by those seeking new opportunities on empty, unowned, unpeopled, lands. Nor was it a migration where they sought to work with the people who were native to Ireland to enhance the quality of life and prosperity of all. Instead, they came here to dispossess those who had ownership of the lands, to enslave and abuse, and enforce foreign rule and Anglo-cultural and religious domination, through violent military oppression and racist, sectarian administration. In doing so, over the generations, they actively sought to ‘other’ themselves, precisely in order to maintain their position of privilege, strength and domination. They hoped to bully and intimidate and bribe the people of Ireland into accepting the English crown and government as their masters, but they could never extinguish the flame of Irish distinct nationhood. The spirit and pride of the Irish nation among the people is felt too keenly, with our awareness of our rich and ancient history going back thousands of years. Sadly, most of the descendants of those original ‘Planters’, in the six counties still under foreign rule, have continued to maintain this historical injustice and still seek to ‘other’ themselves. Hewitt felt that those of the ‘Planter’ community had worked and toiled and been part of this land for long enough to have earned the right to be regarded as native. I agree, and I’m sure so do 99.99 per cent of nationalists and republicans, which is why there hasn’t been a desire to mimic the South Africans and Zimbabweans who have been taking farms and lands by force from the people of ‘Planter’ stock. But being now native to Ireland, doesn’t give them the right to insist on maintaining the historic injustice of British rule here. Hewitt recognised that this was the tradition of the community that he came from, and sadly, while they seek to maintain the same project of their forefathers, then ‘Planters’ is still the fitting name. It will be a great day when those formerly of the ‘Planter’ stock and those of the Gaelic and other communities in Ireland are all working together as one, making amends for the mistakes of the past, with pride in the part they are playing to strengthen Irish nationhood and making it a nation that continues to punch above its weight in all fields and where all have a fantastic quality of life.  

Ann Ceide, Co Ard Macha


Brian’s well-worn cliches not afforded critical analysis

Brian Feeney’s article – ‘Young unionists not buying DUP’s fear tactics’ (August 10) –  referencing Dr Patrick Anderson’s recent publication on the analogies between France abandoning their colony in Algeria and the likelihood of Britain doing likewise here made for very interesting reading. Unfortunately, it fell flat towards the end as Brian once again repeated a couple of well-worn cliches without affording them the necessary critical analysis.

Britain did not at any time state that they had “no strategic or economic interest in remaining in Ireland”. Nothing in fact could be further from the truth. They readily accept that they have a strategic interest in remaining ‘in Ireland’, not just the six-counties, an intention to protect their western flank at all costs at all times which they would claim is not motivated by selfish concern, more by an absolute sense of self-preservation and as an Atlantic seaboard Nato bulwark. 

He goes on to quote the meaningless content of the Belfast/Good Friday (dis)Agreement, “...it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment to exercise their right of self-determination.” Any politics student would see straight through this nonsense given the ‘external impediment’ that actually exists; the fact that only one single British politician with no electoral mandate in Ireland has the binding legal authority to decide when, if at all, there is to be a referendum in the six-counties and what the question or questions is/are to be. The Dublin authorities may well decide to mirror this exercise, albeit the vast majority of the Irish electorate’s wishes will be rendered redundant if the unionist veto continues in the north.

Even if there were to be concurrent votes in favour of ‘Irish unity’ in the two statelets the matter would then return to the British Parliament for legislation which proposes to ‘give effect’ to the will of the Irish people. Failure to grant limited Home Rule, the suppression of the First Dáil and the imposition of the coercive Anglo-Irish Treaty should remind us of Perfidious Albion in all its glory. Any notion that the British can be trusted to leave Ireland to the Irish is for the birds and the ‘New Agreed Irelanders’ who even now are championing Britain’s continuing strategic interests in Ireland in its many forms and disguises. 

Galbally, Co Tyrone


Freedom of expression

The murderous attack on Sir Salman Rushdie illustrates the awesome price which sometimes has to be paid for exercising one’s right to freedom of expression. It should prompt everyone to be ever vigilant in ensuring that in every context and in every public discourse in which they find themselves this right is universally respected. This would also be an appropriate way of acknowledging the renowned author’s remarkable courage and integrity as he not only exercises this right but continues to be a champion of it. 

Blackrock, Co Dublin


Letters to the Editor